Category Archives: Culture

Wanda and Waldo

Recently I spent some quality time with a long distance friend, in a private conversation on Facebook. It was nice. She needed an escape from her current woes, and as she loves my art, I was welcome to do a little show and tell with one of my current projects. She is quite taken with my technique(s), and so occasionally I’ll take the time to indulge her curiosity.

Through the course of explaining certain things, a new painting came into being. I described it as a marriage between two separate pieces. One is a bright & colorful and over a decade old. That’s “Palms Up”, as shown below. FYI, this is originally some simple streaks of ink markers on aluminum foil. Once those streaks were scanned, they were remolded into what you see here. The other picture is from this year – “The Rub” – based on an ink sketch on paper.

art by Lawrence Grodecki

The marrying occurs when the image of one is layered on top of the other. The result of the consummation is something entirely different, yet holds a noticeable resemblance to each:

art by Lawrence Grodecki

While the initial consummation only took a few minutes, the growth of the new creation took a little time . . . it has its own stages of development.

In this case though, my creation became two distinctly different figurative compositions, though the changes are minor in the big picture. And somehow The rub became more dominant over the poor palms. Trying to decide upon one of these new pictures over the other has become a real dilemma. Luckily, as an artist I am free to show you both. However, as in the parable of the chicken and the rooster, I cannot tell you which came first!

I’ll show you both pictures shortly. It took awhile to select the right titles, especially if I wanted to maintain the mystery of this chronology. So in the spirit of ladies first, I present to you, “Finding Wanda” followed immediately on the right by “Finding Waldo”.

new art by Lawrence Grodecki

I’m thinking of adding them both to my Saatchi Art Selections, hopefully in the next  day or so. But for now, out of curiosity, would you care to guess which came first? As to which one you prefer, I’ll leave that matter alone . . . none of my business . . . and I don’t want to make any political statement on the matter.

17 on 28 or 9 Feels As Good as 31!

Every so often I’ll post a blog that’s number-related. I suppose this is one of them, though perhaps in a roundabout way?

By roundabout I mean stuff like superstition. For example, in my youth I had a favorite number for my hockey jersey. I was a goalie, and back then each of two goalies on a team would pick between the lowest jersey number and the highest one. So one goalie always wore #1 and the other would get #30 or #31.

I hated #1 . . . was forced to wear it a few years. I swear I played better as #31, my favorite.

I got thinking about my superstitions over the weekend. I had just spent almost the entire week on taking a hard look at SaatchiArt.com. By Friday I was in the process of signing on with them. While I would like to say I’m really excited about it, for now it is best to say that I’m thrilled with the opportunity the site provides . . . they are doing a lot of things right.

I had hoped to have some art up by Saturday night. That didn’t happen. I was surprised at how long it took me to decide on a body work to introduce myself on SaatchiArt.

I actually did a little research as to what constitutes a body of work, especially in the context of quantity. That was a smart move. I had been thinking of doing somewhere between 15 and 20, and in the end I decided on 17, largely because that was my suite number when I began this creative adventure almost eleven years ago.

It’s a sweet 17!

After so many hours of self-curation, I knew it was a good selection. That was confirmed when I hit the preview button for the set (on my computer, not on the site). The slide show presents in alphabetical order, and I’ll be damned – I wouldn’t change a thing! Believe me, that’s such a rare thing for me in such matters . . . a good omen? Perhaps.

Now to cap it off, sometime through Sunday evening it dawned on me that if I wait until Monday (February 29th) then my future anniversaries on the site can only happen once every four years . . . very cool!

But then something else crossed my mind.  SaatchiArt is headquartered in California, which is two hours earlier than Manitoba time. So what I did was wait until just after midnight to submit my first creation . . . basically I began on February 29th in Manitoba . . . easy peasy. However, that work of art went live right away, and in California the art was launched shortly after 10:00 at night, on February 28th!

So it appears I will get my cake and can eat it too? I can legitimately claim my first anniversary will be on February 28th and once every leap year and I get 2 celebrations!

My apologies about being so nostalgic about the future. And now I’ll leave you with one more thought – a question, “Given the above, is my art now officially timeless?” If so, who knew it would be so easy, or involve such irrational numbers?

Finally, here is one of my limited edition creations . . . it’s available through SaatchiArt.com . . . clicking the image will take you there!

New art by Lawrence Grodecki

Observing Tess

2016 – Another Odd Year?

My last blog post of 2015, and the first that involves the taking of notes! What’s next? An artist making New Year’s resolutions? Now that seems outlandish, even perverse?  The very notion of it reminds me of a small part of my novel, the part where a love-struck Ben struggles with how he will win over the woman of his dreams. He is so sure that destiny will bind them together – an uncontrollable fate – a certain unity. Then it hits him, the hypocrisy of all his planning, and the gnawing of the supreme irony of it all . . . trying to plan one’s destiny!

As I review these notes all I see are two lists, and partial ones at that. The first one concerns what I’m thankful for over the past year. The other gives you some of my predictions for 2016.

Thank You 2015!

Every moment with my daughters was a precious one. Many of you may think that’s a little exaggerated, but the truth is that since we are about 1,000 kilometers apart, the time we spend together is very little, and so if anything my gratitude is understated.

  • My art. I think the only important about art is the question it ultimately brings, “Is there something invisible about it . . . something much more special and endearing than any of us . . . something timeless and not our own?” Of course the answer is yes, and I will always be so thankful for “the Yes”.
  • My mother and sharing in her triumphs, as she finds ways to find joy and laughter in spite of her aged condition . . . the trials of dementia . . . she seems to live for each day these days. It’s a hard way to live, but this too is precious.
  • Emma. She’s my neighbor’s eight year old granddaughter. She’s also one of the smartest people I know, and so very funny . . . sharp, quick wit. She symbolizes all those who bring a laugh or smile into my life pretty much every day, even on days when that seems near impossible.
  • The sun, simply because it is shining a little brighter through the clouds and my window, as I’m writing these notes. It only gives, seems to ask for nothing in return, though I sometimes wonder about that . . . what it wants from us. Then I do some more art and stop wondering.
  • My many long distance friends . . . and my fans . . . all of you inspire me more than I can ever explain . . . thank you!
  • Love

I could probably keep writing about 2015 until this time next year, but now it’s time for something a little more lighthearted. So pardon me for a minute as I firmly insert my tongue in a cheek (one of my own), and begin:

LG’s Fearless Outlook for 2016

  • Sixto Rodriguez will finally get his music heard more in North America, and his 1970 album “Cold Fact” will become an “instant” success.
  • The UN will establish a new fund to end all poverty and it will be called the “World Trade Foundation”. I encourage you to give them your full support by sending lots of money. Send your check now and be sure to remember to make it out to “WTF”!
  • Apple will launch a new home study math program in West Thumb, WY. It will be named the ePi, despite protests from some crusty old math profs and Don Cherry. Grammar experts shudder at what’s ahead for them, calling the idea of a similar writing app “half-baked”.
  • Manitoba’s first transgender judge’s popularity will show mixed results in the polls.
  • Sarah Palin and Donald Trump will become running mates. However, the announcement will be marred by controversy . . . the pair are caught on camera doing a dine and dash from a Taco Bell in Fairbanks Alaska.
  • People magazine will take off where Playboy fell behind by announcing its new magazine, “Peep Hole”. Things really take off when Marilyn Monroe is named their Person of the Year for 2016.
  • Hillary will veto her first Bill just before the swearing. Closely related, Bill volunteers to give Madonna kissing lessons, but privately.
  • Disney announces its plans to do a movie specifically for future space travelers. It’s a science fiction film about a distant planet. The film is tentatively called, “Earth”.
  • The pope becomes uncomfortable when Jesus returns and immediately highly recommends some redecorating. When the suggestion is made to have Georgia O’Keeffe do something floral with Chapel, Francis smirks, telling Jesus that Georgia is dead.  Jesus just grins.
  • Paul McCartney announces plans to bring The Beatles back together; Ringo sues for being snubbed!
  • Jesus surprises everyone by playing Royal Albert Hall with Ringo Starr and then announces Bono as Pope. Bono goes on tour with Ringo in his back up. In the meantime Francis takes painting lessons.

As you can see, it will be one heck of a busy year! I wish you all the best of the timeless ones in these times . . . “times”? Hmm . . . now where’s my iPi?

 

 

 

Something Fishy About Noses

Occasionally an admirer will mention that I don’t put faces in my art. That’s almost always true, and I used to worry about that a little.

Some of those worries concerned the sensuality that fans often sense in my creations, perhaps always? When you think about it, several of us somehow get offended by that combination . . . all those heavenly curves but with no head, or a head with no facial details. There are several art teachers that would insist that what I’m doing is a no-no. I seem to have a nose for no-no’s!

I wonder whether some people see my art as disrespectful . . . the absence of the character that can be shown in a subject’s face, and so the art becomes purely erotic? Or purely sensual? This may sound a little like a bit of a hangover from some Victorian era, and I can fully empathize with that. After all, I’m quite a fan of the show “Downton Abbey”, largely because of the old-fashioned way in which the characters act. While the sexual aspect is certainly there, romance and personality is always upper-most . . . it’s more about the conscience mind than about our more primal urges and reactions.

I also wonder whether some people think that because of the lack of those faces, perhaps the artist doesn’t have the skills to draw with such detail? That’s a valid question, and again I think it relates to a lot of our traditions. I noticed this a few years ago, while breezing through a book of paintings by Rembrandt. The paintings demonstrate amazing anatomical correctness and proper portraiture, and oddly, almost always about the men. Of course the skills are there, but I’m not really struck by the characters.

The thing is, I simply have no urge to draw in this level of detail. If I did I would do so by hand on paper. When it comes to faces, for me that is much easier done on paper than on-screen, though I’m fully aware of how for some the opposite can be true and here’s an amazing example of that.

More importantly though, I strive the expression of the ideal in my art. By that I mean the expression of something beyond the individual. When you think about it, when you are really drawn to a portrait, especially the likeness of a stranger, it is that ideal which lures you, something beyond the individual . . . something powerful and emotional.

The truth is, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who draw in details, very realistically so, and especially when they also capture something beyond the details. In fact I have so much respect for them that I choose not to be among them. By that I mean that there are so many artists out there like that, there is simply no need for me to add to their ranks.

Snippets From The Past

When I learned to draw it was in a very traditional way . . . the basics are wonderfully simple really, and it’s amazing how quickly a person can learn. So there were fruit baskets, windows and curtains, nude models, and then there was this mounted bird. That’s when I learned not only to draw, but also that I could draw! My teacher gave me the ultimate compliment. When she saw my work, she was speechless for a moment, almost catching her breath. She gave me this warm smile and told me about a wildlife artist named Robert Bateman. When I discovered who he is by looking in another at book, I was truly flattered. However, even back then, over 30 years ago now, I remember thinking that there is simply no need for me to draw like that . . . he’s already doing it.

Perhaps it is also because of my first degree, one in psychology, where I learned about all the biases that can go along with facial impressions. While the expressions can be wonderful, our current cultural norms of beauty seem to have distorted much of that . . . thank you Madison Avenue. It’s sad really, but what can a person do? What can I do? I really don’t know . . . I just keep doing what I do!

Finally, the number one reason for me to leave out the faces is this . . . by doing so, I don’t need to worry about someone cutting out the good parts. Let’s just call it a Polish thing . . . if you watch this video you will “catch my drift”! ha ha

The Story Tellers

Some of my fondest memories are about simply telling stories. I can’t remember reading my kids a book at bedtime – that was a long time ago –  but there are several precious times where tales were told, and not just at bedtime.

There were campfire stories, for sure. However, the fondest tale happened on a day at the beach. hottest day of the year. My girls were around the ages of 10 and 12. There was just the three of us and it was the hottest day of the year. I was so worried about lasting in the scorching heat, not being able to keep up with the little ones. However, it was they who suggested finding some shade, and they led the way with their tiny folding chairs to a spot close by, under some poplar trees and very close to the water pump. As soon as they had the chairs open, they each took their plastic pail, filled it with ice cold water, parked that in front of their chairs, sat down and plunked those twenty toes and four heels into the water. You could hear the cool comfort immediately, as they looked at me sitting across from them and said, “Dad, tell us a story.” Such leaders, even back then.

So I just started the telling of it, an adventure of course, one from my youth in Dauphin, when I was about their age. You see, my friends and I found a buried treasure chest in the river, but we had no way of opening it. That’s how it started . . . the thrill of the discovery and then the frustration . . . and to this day it has never ended. I doubt that it ever will.

Other Telling Traditions – The Elder Ones

Several years later, while writing my novel, I did a little research on gypsies. There was this fascinating account about the Romanian gypsies, of their various story telling traditions. By memory, it was the men who told shorter, funnier tales. The women told more epic ones, full of drama, tragedy, adventure and so on. It was nothing to spend two hours in an evening in the telling and the listening, much like we now watch a movie I suppose.

I’ve done other research that talked of a similar tradition, and that was in the mid-east . . . ancient Iran or Iraq, or maybe both? I’m sure you can find all kinds of material online if you want to know more on the subject. Apparently they used the inside of their large tents to put these stories into pictures. This was thousands of years ago, and I believe the material was vellum, not canvas.

In our busy lives we so easily forget how short a time the printing press has been around, but story telling seems to be almost as old as language, with or without the written word. It must have been quite something, both the telling of it and the art of it, on a cold desert night, or during a sand storm.

I’m sure that over time the stories changed – never quite the same way twice – and legends emerged. No doubt having the pictures handy would help the evolutionary process; as images are interpreted differently, new twists come to mind, and the telling becomes as intriguing as the listening.

Modern Story Telling – A Sponsored Tradition

I sometimes wonder if there is a lot more to the true history of those ancient times, and whether it was recorded in those tents . . . among all that art. I wonder about that when I think back to that first attack on Iraq, that night bombing that we got to watch live on TV . . . part of “Operation Desert Storm”. I remember watching CNN that January in 1991, surprised to hear that the first targets were museums . . . how odd. A few weeks ago I heard a little clip about some terrorists damaging museums, somewhere in the same region. In the context of what happened back in 1991, it seemed so hypocritical to hear the TV person trying to describe this act as something barbaric.

Something else that seems so strange is that despite all our talk of freedom of speech – the importance of freedom of the press – the broadcast rights of that first bombing of Baghdad was given exclusively to CNN – modern day story telling? I’ll just leave it at that. Besides, I don’t do political blogging. I don’t do religion either, but I do wonder why there is no original art to go with all those ancient words . . . so very, very odd.

But enough of all that. Who needs more controversy right?

In my art I do like to pay homage to the finer aspects of humanity, and this new painting follows that personal tradition. It is simply called, “The Story Tellers”. I hope it says something about each of us, at least once in awhile, and that your stories are good ones, and the telling of them precious, at times.

It’s time to go now . . . my mind keeps drifting back to those tiny toes in the little buckets . . . where was I now?

Painting - The Story Tellers

The Story Tellers – Fine Art Paper (Edition of 75 Prints)

Image size: 18″ h x 24″ w (46 x 61 cm). Price: $295 USD + $30 shipping.

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The Story Tellers – Canvas (Edition of 30 Prints)

Image size: 24″ h x 32″ w (61 x 81 cm). Price: $450 USD + $30 shipping.

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Pickled Eggs and Other Food for Thought

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything ethically related, and no, this isn’t going to be about Ferguson or Iraq or the Ukraine or Gaza, or Venezuela or Nigeria or Syria or Afghanistan or whether Germany will export another $60 billion of military “stuff” this year. It’s not even about drones peeping into Vancouver apartments.

This is about life, and the creation of it, or in this case is it best to say the production of it?

I came across something today that has me in a pickle, and it can be a little jarring. It has to do with the bio-mechanical womb, and it seems just around the corner . . . you can read the post here . . .

Would You Grow Your Baby In An Artificial Womb?

Is it just me or are we basically doing everything ass backwards now? By that I mean, “shouldn’t the ethical decisions be covered long before the technology gets this far?” The truth is that for a very long time now, one can always find an ethical justification for anything we are capable of inventing or doing . . . hello folks, everything is allowed! The legal people just put up some rules & regulations to complicate matters further. Still, shit happens!

Please Stay Kosher

When I look at that womb container the first thing that comes to mind is a pickle jar, and it seems everything gets privatized sooner or later? Private or not, who among is worthy to make these decisions? Perhaps none of us. By that I mean how the technology is applied.

So instead of worrying about pregnancy, and stocking up on pickles and ice cream, you will worry about something else. “How is my little Bick baby doing today?” Then as you snap pictures of the work in progress, you ponder, “Shall it be Ben or Jerry?”

I’m one of those who is completely against things like colonizing Mars, and this artificial womb stuff only solidifies that concern. After all, at some point isn’t it all just a little too excessive? When did nature become so irrelevant?

Roll over Beethoven! Another Turner Classic?

Something Completely and Wonderfully Different

There is this small outfit that does remarkable videos, some of which have gone viral on Youtube. It’s called Zoochosis and to me it’s absolutely amazing what they are doing.

There is no need for to try to explain what they do – you can easily see that on the first short video (see below).

For some reason I think of my daughters when watching anything from Zoochosis, or perhaps them and the entire young-adult population. There is a lot of crazy out there, much of it pretty disturbing, and I know this sometimes troubles them. Also, so much of the truth of our collective history is well-hidden or sugar-coated, or both?

The messages in Zoochosis productions are stark in contrast . . . some are real eye-openers. Many would find much of their work disturbing or repulsive, yet my hunch is that those same people would probably prefer to bury their head in the sand and pretend some of the issues addressed are not important or even real.

There is usually humor involved, and it’s right up my alley. It’s so much more relevant than anything you will find on mainstream television.

That’s about it for now. The video below is the Zoochosis summary mentioned above. After that I’ve shared a link to one of my favorite videos of theirs . . . really amazing how this is all done mostly on a volunteer basis . . . set the knowledge free!