My friend the artist Scott Noel just recently took down his magnificent show of still lives, cityscapes, portraits, and nudes from the Gross McCleaf Gallery. It was a very ambitious exhibition, including some monumentally sized paintings. Expanding the Convention Center measures 72″ by 148″. Winter to Spring on the Parkway is 80″ by 264″. But it is not just the scale that marks the ambition of these works. The painterly quality and the mythic overtones that Scott so lovingly creates set him in the highest rank of contemporary realist artists. He truly is a poet who happens to work with paint.
Scott is a very articulate professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He talked to me at length and in this film he reveals his ideas about painting, mythology, eroticism, and the beauty of the world.
Scott Noel, Master of Realist Painting
Most of my videos are about visual artists but through the influence of my partner Nancy I have developed a real love for jazz. I recently made a movie about a fundraiser at the Rosenfeld Gallery for a group in Germantown called Neighbohood Interfaith Movement NIM. At this fund raiser, three great artists, who happen to be African American, were present. The art on the walls was by the wonderful Earl “E.B.” Lewis. But there was an amazing live performance that night as well.
Sonia Sanchez, Philadelphia’s poet laureate, reads a moving poem about encountering her brother, who came to New York at 17 in a green suit. Accompanying her is Philadelphia jazz legend Odean Pope who plays Round Midnight on his tenor sax.
The sound setup was not ideal, Sonia’s voice , in my opinion, should have been amplified, but I think you will hear well enough this powerful poem. And no one can top Odean Pope for soulful saxaphone!
My father was a great man. Yesterday would have been his 91st birthday but he died in 2003. He was brilliant, enthusiastic about life, very funny, and in his later years extremely empathetic to his fellow human beings, especially his identical twin sons, me and Jim, and the kid perhaps most like him, our terrific sister Lizie.
When I told him after I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a math degree that I wanted to become an artist, he was pretty dubious at first. But as I grew in my creative life, he let me know that he was very proud of me. His emotional support was invaluable, not to mention his financial help over the years. He had been quite successful as the President of a Pittsburgh company that made springs before manufacturing in America began its sad decline.
Our mother pre-deceased him and this was a blow, but he didn’t give up on life and had some pretty intense romantic relationships in his late 60’s and 70’s. Our mother was wonderful too, and as I near 60, it is hard not to think back on the good ole days of childhood.
Just in case you don’t believe I have a twin brother, here is an old movie I made about him (the sound is bad, it was made with a Canon Powershot camera, but at least you will get to see Jim!) So here is 3 Time Loser, The James Thornton Story
And Happy birthday Dada, Thanks and Love,
Your Fortunate Son
My output of these video profiles of artists connected to Philadelphia has been somewhat prolific. Over the past 5 years, I have obsessively collected email addresses of people who may be interested in watching my films.
When I have a new film online, I will send out emails to all those on my list. This often occurs on a Sunday night, and in fact, tonight I will be sending links to three new films.
Chris Feiro is a remarkable painter and draughtsman who works in a closely observed realist style. In my film about him, 2 other prominent Philadelphia realists, Scott Noel and Jeffrey Reed, talk about Chris and his work.
Jimmy Clark makes ceramic pots and one of the wonderful things he does is to integrate found pottery shards into his work, which adds a feeling of time and history.
Laura Pritchard creates extremely imaginative and whimsical images not with paint, but with the process of batik. Her work features people and animals and an invented language!
Welcome to my new blog about a passion I have had since 2007. That is when I began making a series of videos about visual artists with a connection to the city of Philadelphia. As of today, I have made about 136 of these profiles.
A number of these videos were at the behest of a wonderful man named Richard Rosenfeld who runs one of the best art galleries in Philadelphia. He has been very encouraging to me and I am very grateful to him for his support.
It was actually thanks to an artist friend of mine that I got into making videos. His name is Fred Danziger and he is a wonderful artist. He made a movie and uploaded it to youtube. I was amazed! He told me that all PC’s came with a free program called Windows Moviemaker and that it was easy to figure out. My first movies were made with a Canon Powershot and Windows Moviemaker.
Here is a movie I made a while back about my friend Fred. (I made this movie before I was fully formed as a filmmaker, not that I am fully formed now, but I have learned a bit since I made this one, so pardon the camera shake et alia…)
As time went on, I switched to a Mac, Final Cut Express, and much better equipment.
The variety of styles of art that is made by these artists will astound you. Please visit my Youtube channel and check out my playlist for Philadelphia Artist Profiles.