Inside My Desk

The Arts

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Sample of paintings, drawings, etching, etc. by Sarah Elise Jones,
Mono Print by Alison Lee, Amanda Wilner,
Paintings by Robert Kocher, Dolly Lee, Erica Svec,
Print by Zachery Wollard
A Big Fan of Pei Pyramid,
Wood Carvings by José Sabogal,
Art of Brother Mel Meyer.


I've spent far too many hours in art museums and galleries. Recently while living in Paris I could walk from my apartment to all the major museums. Le Marais (my neighborhood) and surrounding neighborhoods had scores of galleries as well. One of my favorite museums, Pompidou, was across the street and a short distance down an alley. I have no idea how many visits I made to Pompidou, but it could have been once or twice a month.

I have a small art collection, most of which I've assembled since I retired in the mid-1990s. Part of the rationale for The Arts page is to show some of the art that I own and talk briefly about why I like it. I have no plans to do art criticism, but all these years I have developed certain tastes. Although I often ask myself what is it about art that is so luring, especially since I grew up in a home and community that had little interest in the arts. I have absolutely no artistic talent, although over the years I have added sketches to my journal entries, but I still have no talent. I have benefitted from sitting through a few art history courses, and I selectively read art criticism. When looking or buying I tend to follow my initial instincts. They are not always rights, but they have served me well over the years. Sometimes it's the "whole" composition that appeals to my aesthetic sense, and sometimes it's a detail that pulls me in. I'm a sucker for color expressed boldly or subtly. When I'm asked what style appeals to me I often respond non-representational, although I'm not sure I could define the term. For whatever it's worth, I find something deeply creative and dynamic in abstract art. Because I learned about the Baroque Period from an exacting scholar, Harold Wethey (Michigan) I can walk through a room of Old Masters and be in tune with what I'm seeing. No one can deny the power of a Velásquez or a Rubens. Even before the Wethey experience, however, I had been drawn in by compositions that changed the focus from subject matter to the composition itself. I liked the mystery of the less representational and relished the challenge of the abstract. What sticks in my mind is what I have trouble explaining, and honestly I don't have any way of explaining that.

Another rationale for The Arts page is a chance to present the artistic efforts of others. In some cases I am acquainted with the artists; in other cases I have seen an exhibit or run across a web site that I may decide is worth giving some space to. The range is wide because it will include not only the plastics arts but also architecture and design. I often joke that in my next life I'm going to show up as an architect during the day and a jazz pianist at night. It is always fun when a friend sends along a suggestion (usually a web page for an exhibit or gallery) that I also find intriguing and if possible will add to The Arts page. (Of course I try to observe the proper protocol in showing art from exhibits or galleries.)

This page will change with some frequency. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Art lends itself to social interaction because often after looking we want to talk about what we've observed. it.


I'm a bar participant - not the counselor's bar but the boozer's bar. Once a bartender, know the rest of that line.

Sarah is a barkeep among other things. A mutual friend told me she was her own job center. Not unusual for artists and writers on the rise.

I discovered she made a finely-muddled Old Fashioned (my bar drink of choice when not drinking it straight), and, she learned, as others have, I like bar conversations. Only on my second or third visit did I learn from this modest woman, she was an artist. I told her I was a museum hound (which you can read about on this website), and I asked if I could see her work. She wrote down (she still likes to write things down) a web site for me to visit.

When I did, I was so completely drawn in I spent more than an hour flipping back and forth. Since then, we have shared many thoughts about art in general and her art in particular, and we have exchanged images and websites on design and art. Her range is enormous, her eye is acute (as are her eyes), her whimsy is everywhere, her irony is central.

Below are several examples from her oeuvres: a drawing, a painting, an etching, a collograph. I have posted a more extensive page devoted to her work at my other website Inside My Right Brain click here.

Happily and sadly Sarah left last summer '12 for the West Coast to study printmaking at the California College of the Arts. I will miss the Old Fashioneds, the talk about art, the joking and teasing, but all for a good cause - more art by JonesSE (not a moniker she may approve of but that would not be my first disapproval - the list is long, Sarah, very long).

Self Portrait #1 [Our faces, it is said, both explain & hide us.]


Untitled Painting [Keep the mystery alive.]


Do-Nothing-Machine [Life's perfect summing up.]

Do Nothing Machine

Untitled Collograph [Hard to forget.]


Click here to access her website


Pei Pyramid

PEI PYRAMID YouTube video click here

I am a big fan of I M Pei’s first infamous and now famous glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre’s three major pavilions. (There is a small pyramid adjacent to the main one.) I was from the beginning and did not have to be converted. The Internet is full of technical information and architectural commentary about Pei's achievement. For me the addition of a modern structure in the middle of a large Baroque courtyard, surrounded on three sides by monumental architecture and opened on the fourth toward Tuileries, a courtyard I ran through 30 years before to get inside for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa before the car was ticketed, that structure created the most interesting courtyard to stand in or walk around in, day or night, in all kinds of weather — snow flurries, mid-day sunlight, wind-driven rain and heavy clouds that I know. Although I’ve not kept count, I’ve been in that "redesigned" courtyard hundreds of times, and if I were still living in Paris, I could easily rack up another few hundred visits.

The interior views are memorable as well and in a curious way more artistic. This is the entrance to the Louvre. The pyramids sit atop a spacious underground area that contains the so-called facilities for museum visitors. But looking up into the tip of pyramid, following the grid work that holds the triangles together, seeing the tops of the surrounding pavilions, watching the sky float by, these are a few of the experiences from inside a prism. Climb the stairs or ride the escalator to the courtyard and watch the emergence of the Louvre’s architecture in all its grandeur as if it were being lifted back into place. The pyramid can enhance the thrill one can feel upon entering one of the world’s great museums, and they can mollify the exhaustion one can feel after walking through some of the longest corridors ever built.

As a historian, I find it notable that we enter one of the world's largest buildings with the world's largest art collection through a structure called a pyramid that in the ancient world was the largest structure, then opaque, now transparent, but still a reliquary.

One sidelight: the motorized washing machine that makes its way up and down the glass triangles is good viewing on a sunny summer day.

By the way my favorite approach to the Louvre is by the Pont des Arts, a pedestrian bridge across the Seine that connects the Left Bank Institut de France, where in addition to great scholarship the defense of French language and culture is carried on daily, with the Right Bank Louvre. On warm days and even some days not so warm the Pont embraces living in the real world and its conflicting aesthetics that worry the didactics inside the Institut and affirms many of the themes of the treasures inside the Louvre. Have a picnic, open champagne, listen to music, watch the river traffic, talk to artists, friends, passer-bys or no one, and by all means make love. I must admit, though, religion is pretty much ignored on the Pont. No bridge like it in the world that I know.


Fallaces sunt rerum species. (Seneca)

The most captivating and the most taunting of all I own. I love this painting; that the artist & I could be as close as I am to the painting; but thanks anyway, Erica.


Odi et amo.

WOOD CARVINGS by José Sabogal, Peruvian Artist, 1888-1956



José Sabogal was a twentieth-century Peruvian artist whose wood carvings helped to establish his artistic reputation. The aim of this brief film is to try to broaden the audience for his carvings. He studied in Mexico in 1922. His carvings and drawings appeared in many books, journals and newspapers during his lifetime, and they are notable for their starkness, power, simplicity and beauty. Sabogal was also a painter whose canvases vibrate with color and intensity, and they contrast sharply with the black and white style of his carvings. He held many administrative posts in Peru's national arts community and was a major force in expanding the role of the arts in the first half of the twentieth century. Web link to biography and paintings:


Landscape by Robert Kocher

Not counting the posters of Picasso, Braque and Klee this is the first piece of art that I acquired. Actually it was a gift to me and my ex from the artist. It remains one of my favorites. It is pretty much governed by color, and forty years later I continue to find the choice of colors and the texture of the oils arresting. I often sit across from this painting on my sofa. To the left of the painting and fireplace is a sliding glass door that looks out on a wooded area. The real landscape has many charms, and depending on the light it can dissolve into a mixture of greens, brown, whites, reds, etc. Bob's landscape doesn't change with the seasons as the real landscape does, and in the dead of winter when the glass door scene is pretty bleak and gray, Bob's rendition offers some hope in an abstract way.


Brother Mel Meyer, a member of the Order of Mary, is a well-known artist in St. Louis area and in that part of Mid-West. His work spans a range of media. The chair above is from his from his metal-working series. He has completed a series of paintings - whimsical renderings in eye-riveting colors - in acrylics of houses along a Missouri biking trail available at To see the full collection, go to They include acrylics, watercolors, paper, glass, wall and outdoor sculptures and for those with a religious bent crucifixes and enamels. A journey through Brother Meyer's large, diverse portfolio will leave one with a sense of joy and pleasure in a modern world that is too often crazed.


I never meet Dolly Lee when I was living at Lake Tahoe. I knew her work, and I found a photo of this self-portrait at Cynthia Ashe's Galley, Artist of Lake Tahoe. I was immediately intrigued, and I asked Cynthia if it would be possible for me to see the actual painting. She thought I could, and several weeks later she called to say she had the painting.

When I arrived at the Gallery, both Cynthia and Dolly's daughter, Alison Lee, a painter and print-maker (whose "Joys of Man" is posted below) and a framer at the Gallery, were there. Cynthia unfolded the painting, watercolor on paper. This was the first time Alison had seen her mother's painting, ands she made the first comment exuberantly - something to the effect, how wonderful the flow is, and she moved her right hand from the top of painting, down the right side to the bottom, and up the left side. That summed it up far better than I could have. It is not only the flow, but, as I have come to appreciate more and more in the past decade, it is the combination of color and movement: the yellow on the right side and the orange on the left, with swirls of green and blue. In her own words in a local publication she referred to "feeling the movement of the colors as they flow over the paper, as one might 'feel the music' of Mozart or Eric Clapton. . . .Ŏ It is indeed musical. Finally, for me the face is as much a mask as a face, and I like the mystery of that.

This like most of Dolly's paintings is a watercolor. Again to quote Dolly: "The excitement, unpredictability, and transparency of this medium seems just right for my personality, as I paint intuitively, from my inner spirit and emotions. . . ." Her style has been described as free-flowing, energetic, and whimsical and that it leaves much to the imagination of the viewer. She is well-known for her floral and expressionistic pieces (I own one which I will also soon post), and like many Tahoe artists she paints the lake. "I never use photographs, and love finding just the right spot, where I set up my beach chair to get lost in the experience of 'DA-WA-GO.'". A free spirit, I am told, as much in person as on the canvas.


Alison Lee is another artist I came to know during my Tahoe years through Cynthia Ashe, the wonderful owner of Artists of Tahoe Gallery in Incline Village. She is the daughter of Dolly Lee, another Tahoe artist I have featured on these pages. A versatile artist, Alison had special interest in mono prints . I will not try to enlighten you on the complexities of mono prints, mono types and related matters, and I'll let you consult the Internet on how curators and critics define this art-form. I will say that because it involves applying ink or pigment to a surface over which paper is laid or pressed to transfer the image it is generally regarded as the most painterly of printmaking methods. Also the quality of lighting and shading or its translucency often changes with successive "pulls", and even more innovatively the artist can modify the surface and therefore the overall image between pulls.

I own three of Alison's works: two mono prints and one lino cut. Eventually I will post all three, but the first to be posted is a mono print entitled "Joys of Man". It took me about 30 second to decide to buy this after I first saw it at Cynthia's Gallery. At the time I did not know Alison, but when I picked up the print in its new frame, I met Alison because she also worked as a framer at the Gallery (and from that point on she framed most of the items I bought from Cynthia). Our friendship continued until I left Tahoe several years later. Alison is now a mother and a teacher, and I hope but do not know if she is sill her own creating art.

"Joys of Man" has a central arched figure that captures the eye almost immediately. What frames the body are two arched images, one on top, more rounded than the arch of the body, in shades of blue with white spaces, and one underneath, more pointed, in shades of red also with white spaces. The areas outside the arched center continues the same shades of red and blue inter-spaced with white. The figure appears to be on a ride, perhaps a wave, and the spread of the arms plus the relaxed pose suggests care-freeness rather than danger. But of course any such ride will eventually come to any end. Without knowing how it will end I'm prepared to climb abroad.

A decade later I still love to look at "Joys of Man", which hangs on the wall next to the place where I dine, another joy of my life. I own 3 of 5 pulls, and I often wonder how the translucence might differ in the other 4. I will probably never know, but I can continue to admire #3 without knowing.



The Ann Arbor Art Fair 2008 proved to be full of surprises for me. Many of the same artists from previous years were in attendance, but what I saw on the walls of their booths seemed more interesting than I'd expected. Last year I made no purchases; this year I made up for last year's deficit.

The AA Fair is so large, and since I've yet to find the fountain of youth, I take several days to walk through the entire fair. On the third day after having spent what I had budgeted, I discovered some booths that I had missed. One belonged to AMANDA WILNER from Ann Arbor. Her booth featured mainly her drawings and paintings. I was hooked from the first moment I stepped inside. Standing in front of the booth a few minutes later I had not yet seen the artist, when from behind I heard, "Hi, I'm the artist." Indeed, when I turned, I was face-to-face with the artist.

After talking to her for a half-hour or so I bought a small "fine art" reproduction - The Swimmer. The larger drawing - technically a mono print - was entitled French Curve With Fish. Amanda described the process this way: ". . . the original was 22" x 30". . . is mixed media, most soft pastel on paper." The reproduction was done with archival ink on archival paper.

With her permission I have included a photograph from her web site of the original. The Swimmer as shown is a photograph of the reproduction on my wall. She also has a web site with much more - drawings, paintings, sculptures and masks. Go to

I love the quirky and whimsical nature of her right brain that matches up with a lot of skill in execution - is that the left side? At the booth I found myself so taken in that I thought I was supposed to start a conversation with the subjects on the canvases. They had something to say to me and perhaps to the artist. I'm not sure that they were entirely happy with how the artist's right brain. Sort of like, "now let me ask you, would you draw. . . ." Behind the quirkiness and whimsy of these drawings was something serious. Human figures and especially faces have long been favorite subjects, and with these you will want to rethink how you look and what you see.

On her web site you'll find an interesting exhibit of "Feet" sculptures. She says that they are as much about wheels as feet, but you may find yourself musing over the feet. I told her they made me recall from many years ago a romance when the artist I was seeing asked me what my favorite body part was. I answered something commonplace like eyes. "Totally uninteresting," she said. When I turned the question around, she replied "My feet!" Our romance was all downhill from there, although for the record I did later buy one of her paintings. Amanda's rendering of feet made me think how unobservant I can be.


This print is unique in my small collection. I own nothing else like it. It is allegorical and iconoghraphic on a level that I'm utterly incompetent to deal with. I was very much taken by the compositional quality. It has a magnetic flow that cannot be ignored. For a print that embraces new technologies it has a strong painterly surface. The blue in the center was the first thing to catch my eye, and then there is so much more including the gold leaf at the top, the vibrant, almost vibrating funnel in the middle and the skulls in the soil at the bottom. Initially I thought I was looking at a tree, and then I realized the tree was inside the funnel. Beyond that I will leave it to the viewer.

Historian though I am, I am not a Classicist. I had seen the quote in the banner but I knew not from whence it came. The banner reads The cause is hidden, the effect is visible to all. Thanks to Goggle I soon found Causa Latet Vis Est Notissima from Ovid, Book 4 of Metamorpheses. It is also the motto of a social fraternity, different but close.

Contemporary print-making often requires the talents of others, especially in a design like this with so many layers and angles. The engraver, Universal Limited Art Editions, Inc, acknowledged the contributions of others, as will I, who cannot begin to fathom how such a print was pulled together. And I quote:

An etching with pigmented inkjet, gold leaf, and embossing in an edition of nineteen with six artist's proofs and four printer's proofs.

One printing from one plate over pigmented inkjet on the Brand etching press by Kyle Gruber. Digital manipulations by Brian Berry and Noelle Weber. Embossment by Bruce Wankel and gold leaf application by Kyle Gruber. The paper is Somerset Velvet in Radiant White hand torn. . . .

Incidentally my framer made sure that the hand-torn border were accentuated just enough.