Thursday, July 24, 2014

Somebody's Reading This Blog

Three years ago I wrote an entry titled Nobody Reads This Blog, in which I discussed another blog post by cartoonist Hugh MacLeod called Why Most Artists' Blogs Fail. He was basically making the point that no one visits an artists' blog to see their paintings. They want more, something that means something, something inspiring.

I think in the three years since I followed his advice some of the time. I'm not going to follow it tonight, mainly because I'm tired and I don't feel like writing more than a few short paragraphs. I'm also going to forsake his advice for the duration of this next painting, because the vast majority of my blogging will be in regards to the new piece, working title blue. There's a lot of blue sky in it, and I don't often use blue, even in the sky. I just liked the idea this time and thought how fabulous it would be to have a large blue painting. Here's a sample of that...

(see? a lot of blue on the palette...)

Something noteworthy that I will mention, and this is entirely unrelated to the new painting, is that the American Dream project in the Meadowlands, formerly called Xanadu is back in the headlines. Some readers might remember the chronicles of a painting I did of this building called Xanadu, in which I followed the news stories and wrote about them in conjunction with the Xanadu painting.

I guess I'll start following this story in the news again, and I may make that my next destination for new photos. In the mean time, you get this...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Been a while for a number of reasons, the most significant being that its summer and who really wants to be stuck in a cave in the summer. But I'm back now, motivated by confirmation of a solo show in March 2015 and a very lean inventory. 

Its also worth mentioning that the FMFTS project will most likely not conclude like I claimed several times in the past. The Meadowlands calls and I'm way too obsessed with the place to stop now. And the LA River dream project is just not feasible since I live in New Jersey and traveling out there puts too big of a strain on my budget.

You may also want to check out me on my podcast interview from the artblog. It was recorded in January after I stalled due to a sore throat, and has taken until recently to be made public. Enjoy...

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Sky Is Falling

It came as no surprise to me that the Pulaski Skyway was becoming a serious risk to public safety. NJ DOT decided that the time has come for the 82-year old, iconic commuter viaduct to be repaired before it falls into the Hackensack River. The two-year project will require each direction of the span to close for a year at a time, causing traffic nightmares on the local roads below.

This bridge, which cuts across the horizon between Newark and Jersey City like a dark serpent, was graded a "D-minus and about to become an F" by engineers. They consider it worse than the bridge in Minneapolis which collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people.

When officials use the word "crumbling" and "structurally deficient" to describe a structure that carries 74,000 cars a day, it should send a chill up the spine of anyone who has ever used it. Drivers should think back to the last time he or she drove over such a crossing and consider whether or not it was a good idea. By the time projects like this begin, they are already well past the danger zone and into reckless endangerment territory.

I had my own white-knuckle moment on the Pulaski Skyway last spring, but it had nothing to do with infrastructure issues. I was in South Kearney taking photos of the bridge, and I used one of the center on-ramps to re-enter the bridge. The Skyway was built in the 20's and 30's, and was not meant for 21st century driving. There was no acceleration lane on this particular ramp, and I had to really put the hammer down to get up to speed before the oncoming traffic ended up in my back seat.

This renovation project will start on the northbound side of the bridge. In the meantime, it will remain open for motorists heading south. What dangers lie ahead for them as they travel over the 82-year old span? When it was opened, it was hailed as an engineering marvel, the first limited access expressway designed to reduce travel times between the two cities it connected. Less than a century later, its not only an eyesore, but a rusting, crumbling hulk of steel and concrete and a shell of its former self. I guess time is the enemy of progress.

Matthew Green, Skyway, oil on canvas, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Is The End

I'll be starting a painting this week which will be the last one for this project. Five Miles From Times Square was a minor artistic odyssey lasting over 5 years, conceived sometime in the Fall of 2008, officially begun in January 2009 with my first field trip to Snake Hill and the surrounding areas. It involved an unsuccessful campaign for grant money, was caught up in the UPS incident, and produced 18, soon to be 19 paintings in the series.

This blog will take on a new direction, aimlessly wandering across the murky depths of my next artistic journey. If asked whether or not FMFTS was successful, I would have to say yes. My initial goal was 10-12 canvases, and I not only surpassed that, I created a body of work that I can hang my hat on, most of which have been sold.

The next and final image has been selected for the new painting, and work will begin tomorrow evening. I'm not ready to share the subject (it won't be the photo posted below). Maybe I'll do another photo series like Xanadu. My next project is chosen but not planned, but again, I'm not sharing that yet.

Thanks to anyone who has ever read this blog, and especially to anyone who followed the project from start to finish. It hurts to set you free, but you'll never follow me...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Heart Of Darkness

This river is becoming to me what the Congo River was to Joseph Conrad. The story of this painting, when finished, will center mainly on a play between light and shadow, between seeing and not seeing. Its about how reality is born from patterns of contrasts, what we see, what we feel, what we believe. Love and hate. Good and evil. Life and death.

The Hackensack River snakes through the heart of the New Jersey Meadowlands and highlights the contradictions of human existence. An urban wilderness such as the Meadowlands feels the push and pull of the tides, but also the struggle between Man's needs and wants, between civilization and nature, each rushing headlong into the other, the former turned barbaric, pre-occupied with a savage desire to turn a pristine wetlands into wealth.

I have 3 weeks to finish this painting and start a new one. "The horror..."

Monday, February 24, 2014


When you break down the sense of sight to its most basic function, you find that it only works because of contrasts. Simple creatures with simple eyes see only extreme areas of light and dark. More developed eyes see contrasts in color as well, and can break down light and dark into more complex gradations, creating a deeper understanding of the environment outside of the body.

Whats beginning to emerge on this canvas is a study in light and dark. Simple contrasts that form a perception of reality. I'm studying the light as well as the shade here. The two together will weave a tapestry of highs and lows like interlocking fingers in two joined hands.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tell Me Your Muddy Little Secrets

In May 2010 I was paddling a canoe upstream in a marsh near Lyndhurst, NJ. I was accompanied by my brother who, like me, was physically exhausted from fighting an extremely brutal outgoing tide in the New Jersey Meadowlands. I suddenly realized two important things. One, it is one step below impossible to paddle against outgoing tides in the Meadowlands. Those tides mean business. The other is marshes that are filled in with garbage to make new land will be disgusting forever.

I've been accused of being negative and a pessimist. My art focuses on things that are not exactly pleasant. They are things regular folks would rather not be reminded of, but I can't help it. I am not denying this. But I also can't deny that things like this are my passion, and passion is what one needs to make art, whether that passion is for unicorns and rainbows, or degradation and filth.

The Muddy Little Secrets series I did in 2011 was conceived in that moment on that canoe trip in 2010. I saw first hand what becomes of garbage in a landfill, and what becomes of garbage in a landfill when the people who put it there try and pretend that it isn't there. The people who created the garbage also pretend it isn't there, or at the very least, don't know its there or where it goes once it leaves their home, other than that it goes into trash cans and gets placed curbside, is picked up by sanitation workers, and disappears forever into a truck.