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Read my latest piece on striking a balance between popularizing and protecting the incredible Underground Cities of World War I in northeastern France. Thanks to photographer Jeff Gusky for his time and energy during two long interviews for this story.

As I’ve said here before, I consider it my duty to be writing about this important archeological project. Time is running out to properly preserve these sensitive sites. Vandalism and decay are accelerating down there.

One of the models for the new show, The Tattooed, takes in some of the paintings at the opening, Thursday, Aug. 27. Thanks to the hundreds of people who came out to Guardino Gallery to celebrate with me and my esteemed colleague, sculptor Christopher Wagner. We had a great time!

Join us here, at Alberta Street’s venerable Guardino Gallery, for a sweet mix of painting and sculpture about tattooed people. As usual, I worked with live models, and I worked with sculptor Christopher Wagner, to make a two-media portrait project. The snacks and revelry will be in full effect at the last Thursday goodness that is Alberta Street in the summer. Carnival!

Also, Chris and I will be talking about the work on Saturday, Sep. 19, at 2pm. Eloquently.

Guardino Gallery, 2939 NE Alberta Street, Portland, Oregon

Take a look at our unfolding photo essay on Instagram, available here, about how we at Rutz painting in Oregon recycle the broken bass pipes at Rutz Pipe Organ in Minnesota (my father’s company) into stretcher bars to support oil paintings. These pipes, made of perfect century-old fir, hold tension in a canvas wonderfully.

Sometimes I get to write on a topic really close to my heart.

Did you know under the artillery roar and mud of the Great War’s trenches, thousands of people built underground cities that have laid undisturbed for a century? Many are secret, for now, but unprotected. Check out this article I coauthored on the effort to both promote and protect them.

It’s just a privilege to be a part of this effort, especially on Memorial Day weekend.

Thanks to the editors of PDX Magazine for their support. I wrote an article for their latest edition citing three of the books that have most influenced my thinking about what painting is, chief among them… What Painting Is, by James Elkins. It’s about materials. And bodies. Find the piece here, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Follow this unfolding essay on Instagram

My daughter turned two last month, and I have never taken a photograph of her. For the month of April, I’m going to explore why. What kind of parent would do that?

#whyidontphotographmykid #newbornfeet #tinyfeet #pdx #bornyoung

I want to take the standard of “beautiful” away from my daughter’s photographic image and give it to the growing toddler’s in-the-moment, complicated, contradictory self. That may be impossible, but I’d like to at least slow down the glut of photos of her every cute moment.

#whyidontphotographmykid #susansontag #photography #pdx #art #warpedstandardsforbeauty

Let me be clear: I am not putting down photography per se. (I’ll be using lots of photos in this series, including this photo of drawings.) I am saying our diet of images is so loaded with one food group—photography—that we’re forgetting the benefits of a balanced visual diet.

#whyidontphotographmykid #newbornsketches #newborn #baby #pdx #drawing

How to prepare my daughter to handle the impulse to equal or embody billions of seductive images? Perhaps showing her I care more about her than her image will help her navigate the smartphone culture into which she has been born—and the evermore photo-centered world she’s going to mature into.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #raisingstrongwomen #johnberger #waysofseeing #beauty

When I tell people I’ve never taken a photo of my daughter, many seem to assume it’s evidence that I don’t care enough about her. On the contrary I think about her so much, and I’ve read enough about her mind/body development, that I’m convinced not taking photos of her is better for us both. Getting myself to mark big moments in other ways takes lots of attention and flexibility.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #drawing #newborn #sketches #exhaustedmother #learninghowtonursethenewborn

Paglia is an art critic. She’s preaching here the value in slowing down and looking at images that challenge us. As parents we talk about what kind of example we demonstrate for our kids. I want to give the example of patient attention to my daughter. I want to teach her to attend to a room in ways that don’t involve posing for a camera.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #camillepaglia #art #fineart #savethechildrenalittlebit

It began as a small vow: As a painter and new father, I would not take a photo of my daughter for her first year. Knowing others would take PLENTY of photos of her, I would take this precious opportunity to add my own image-making abilities to the mix of pictures. I’d let other people shoot the photos while I drew and looked for other ways to document my daughter’s early years. It became a habit.

#whyidontphotographmykid #baby #crawlingbaby #drawing #pdx #sketchthefamily

Cartier-Bresson knew how to balance his visual diet. He took some of the most famous photographs of the past century, and yet his book is not a wholesale celebration of the photo. It’s a look at what photography can—and cannot—accomplish. Drawing reminded him not just that all experience can’t be captured in a photo but that drawing makes us alert to our world in ways we miss when we point, shoot and move on.

#whyidontphotographmykid #thedecisivemoment #photography #drawing #pdx #meditation

As Henri Cartier-Bresson says in yesterday’s quote, there’s a difference between the photographer’s quick recognition of the moment and spending time in the moment, unfolding with it. Drawing and painting help us slow down and meditate on what’s now instead of flipping through to the next, and the next.

#whyidontphotographmykid #training #triathlete #pregnancy #triathlon #pdx #painting #oilpainting #bikingbeforethebabybirth

Painting is slow. It takes patience. My wife’s face shows her effort posing here. I believe inviting that kind of strain is good for a picture. The work itself between painter and model to slowly build one picture for weeks: we invest, concentrate together, navigate each other’s moods, and thereby make the picture more special.

#whyidontphotographmykid #triathlete #pregnancy #pregnantathlete #oilpainting #mothertobe #pdx #painting #strongwomen

This photo represents the only oil painting I’ve finished of my daughter so far. We have tried others, and abandoned them, which is what I do with many paintings. That trial and error, I think, is good for both daughter and papa.

#whyidontphotographmykid #painting #oilpainting #pdx #baby #infant #nursing #tirednewmother #sleepwhenyoucan

What was I thinking when I vowed not to photograph my daughter? When this started I was worried about inadvertently teaching her to mug for the camera, annoyed at the thought of the machine getting between me and her, and uncomfortable with the idea that my duty as a parent was to find a perfect photo moment instead of living in the moment.

#whyidontphotographmykid #sonogram #pdx #fetus #androgynoussoundpicture

You can imagine my wife’s unhappiness with my announcement that I didn’t want to photograph our newborn. She came up with imagined scenarios to show that there would be times when I would NEED to take Elcy’s photograph. How could I be so selfish? She wasn’t the only one who thought I was being ridiculous.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #toddler #fingerpaint #handprints #babymarks #fingerprints

When our daughter was born, I was doing regular physical therapy to recover from shoulder surgery. A couple days after her birth I had a PT session, and the very nice therapists asked to see photos of her. I didn’t have any, and one PT asked, “What kind of father are you?” I stared back at her for a moment trying to find the most honest way to put it: “What kind of a father am I? One more interested in paying attention to my child than in showing other people I did.” I don’t know if that answer satisfied her, or if it satisfies anyone but me.

#whyidontphotographmykid #surgery #pdx #labrumrepair #stitches #physicaltherapy #igotinked

Surrounding the scars from my surgery, this tattoo preserves the actual touch of my wife and daughter. Whit started the process, holding her hand on my shoulder while the tattoo artist worked his way around her hand. Then we did my daughter. They’re meant to echo Paleolithic cave paintings, some of the oldest images of human touch we have, and I love that they took a long time, that they’re etched painfully into me.

#whyidontphotographmykid #tattoo #cavepaintings #paleo #portrait #pdx #alternativeportrait

I think Mitchell is saying we’re not rational when it comes to images. We believe pictures of people are echoes of real people, and they seem to have the power of the things they depict. We feel like the photo of mom brings mom into the room and acts a little like the real mom, comforting or judging us, depending. The movie moment of covering or turning the photo to avoid its gaze—that works because we feel as if photos can gaze. We give pictures power.

#whyidontphotographmykid #wjtmitchell #pdx #art #images #philosophy #whatdopictureswant

According to the Population Reference Bureau (, in 1850 the number of people who had ever lived was 92.6 billion. Since then only 13.8 billion have been born. Just think of all the people who lived (some of whom we still admire today) who loved and thrived without taking photos of anyone, including their children.

Niépce was only one of many gentlemen-scientists who were looking for a way to chemically fix the image of light through a lens in the early 1800’s. He developed his “heliographs” of the 1820s  independently of Louis Daguerre’s “daguerreotypes” and William Henry Fox Talbot’s “photogenic drawings” of the 1830s.

#whyidontphotographmykid #photography #photos #pdx #niepce #oldestphotograph #history #billionsandbillionsofpeoplewithoutcameras

Sontag wrote this in the mid-1970s, and it’s even more true today, and way beyond vacation. The cameras perpetually in our pockets burn with an invitation to document and upload not only every pleasurable moment, but also to alleviate boredom and shame those we want to push below us. I want to give other shapes to experience than stop-point-click-upload—or better yet, I want to let experience shape me.

#whyidontphotographmykid #susansontag #sontag #pdx #photography #work #vacation

Here’s a way to reshape experience, something many parents do. How far can we take this? How much can we decorate the door jambs and rearrange the other props of our lives to help us remember our children’s growth in a more immediate, intuitive way than photos can do?

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #growingchildren #parenting #toddlers #lovemarksonthewalls

Here’s another way to shape experience: We can trace experience and revel in the moment. These lines represent me and my daughter goofing around in a typical afternoon. She asked me to trace her hand, then her foot (she had shoes on). I love looking back here on how her hand moved because at age two she didn’t understand she had to hold her hand still the whole time I drew around it. Then she asked me to put my hand on the paper and she drew all over the thing without any apparent attempt to trace my hand. I look at this and remember like many do their photos.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #hands #drawing #parenting #toddlers #drawwithyourkids

This quote comes from not just an expert in photos, but one whose life work is based in motion pictures. Errol Morris’s skepticism about photography and his wily use of it got someone off death row (see his film “The Thin Blue Line”) and yet he maintains strong doubts about the relationship between photos and what they depict.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #parenting #photography #errolmorris #believingisseeing

If this is not a photo of my sister-in-law with her favorite singer, what is it? It’s a joke, of course. A fake. Is there a clear difference between fake photos and real ones?

#whyidontphotographmykid #michaeljackson #popicon #pdx #fake #pettingmichaeljackson

To feel a loss in not photographing your kid, I think you have to believe photos are a slice of the truth, that they at least partly capture and preserve the moments we share with our family. I don’t believe that. I believe photos lie as much as they depict truth. And in this quote Morris lays bare his own healthy doubt. Photos equal truth for you only if you believe they do. (By the way, Morris also hardly ever takes photos of his family.)

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #parenting #photography #errolmorris #believingisseeing

How crazy strong has Crossfit made my sister-in-law!? Framing matters—how we choose the picture one thing instead of another, how we crop our photos, how we choose the “best” picture on the camera and delete the others. I make pictures for a living, and I’m aware of what pictures cannot do. If you were on the scene, this lift wouldn’t look remotely real.

#whyidontphotographmykid #strongwoman #pdx #weekendantics #lift #crossfit #crossfitxfactor

She wasn’t pressing me overhead on a sunny afternoon—not that she hasn’t made serious strides at the gym. And we didn’t need Photoshop to fake yesterday’s photo. We just chose what deserved to be in the frame. Everyone does that every time we take a photo. We cut out context.

#whyidontphotographmykid #strongwoman #pdx #weekendantics #lift #crossfit #crossfitxfactor

Photographer Sally Mann, whose work I admire, knows as well as anyone that photos don’t capture people. As scandal swirled around her photos of her own naked children in the 1990s, she reminded viewers that photos are at best totems or icons that invite viewers to consider children or childhood in some way. All images are like this. If I were a photographer, I might be doing a project like Mann… but I’m not. I’m a painter. I’m doing my own project.

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #parenting #photography #sallymann #somewonderisitchildpornography

Anthropologists make huge efforts to record and preserve rare languages because embedded in each language are unique ways to make sense of the world. The same can be said for modes of imagery. I quoted Susan Sontag at the beginning of the month, on how photography has become our standard for what’s beautiful. Let’s allow our aesthetic standards to broaden beyond the tiny realm of the photogenic. Preserve difference!

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #keepportlandweird #parenting #art #photography

I carry these scribbles by my kid around with me like other parents carry photos. I let my daughter draw here and there in my many notebooks for work, and I like to run across those scribbles when looking back at sketches of ideas for paintings or notes about the business. These moments of pure mark making fill me with cheer and questions. Where will it lead? What will she draw next?

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #drawing #parenting #kids #toddlerscribbles #toddlers

#whyidontphotographmykid #pdx #parenting #photography #art

Follow this unfolding story on Instagram

This is kind of how I remember the portrait, a hovering glimpse in the dark above my uncle’s bed in the farmhouse where I spent summers growing up. It scared the shit out of me as a child, and I love it.

I own the painting now. My wife, bless her, puts up with it hanging in our house’s most prominent spot. (But she thinks the dress is white and gold, so all her decor opinions are suspect.) Visitors young and old call the portrait ugly and ask, “What’s it doing up there?”

That’s a good question, and it’s been asked enough that I’ve decided each day this month I’m going to post a slice of the answer.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #portrait #painting #blueandblackdress #dressgate

My uncle Ralph owned the painting before I did.

I don’t know why, but on a short visit home from grad school May 22, 2007, I took a lot of photos of him and the farm where the Rutz family lived since the 1890s.

This photo is the closest thing I can find to the painting in situ where I would encounter it as a child. It was hanging directly behind me as I shot this photo of my father pulling aside the curtain in his brother Ralph’s room to get a better look at the piano. For some reason we were documenting that kind of thing that day—where and when things on the farm were built, what shape they were in, who might want them some day.

I try to avoid nostalgia, and I see a fine line between that and an honest look at how our past echoes in us. I aim to stay on this side of that line.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #painting #portrait #pdx #oldminnesotafarmhouseinseriousneedofdusting

I took this photo of a photo on a pile of old pillows that day in May 2007. The framed aerial shot shows the family farm, taken from the air about the time Ralph’s portrait was spooking me from a dark corner any time I snuck into his room. It was still a working farm. They had ducks and chickens and a few cattle. My brother and I helped feed them and get the eggs each summer. This scene doesn’t exist anymore. All but two of these old buildings were torn down because they were falling in anyway.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #painting #art #bulldozeitbecauseitisfallinginanyway

This series of posts is about how pictures affect us… not that they do or why they do, but the ways we carry images and associate them with the rest of our world, the ways their meanings change while we grow.

Soon after this moment petting the cat in 2007, uncle Ralph would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. His heart is still beating today (March 4, 2015) but it’s been years since he recognized any of us.

I just didn’t think to ask him about the painting until it was too late. Now there’s this puzzle. In 2010, after he moved from the farm to a retirement home, I met with him and asked when he got the portrait. He looked at me with a wan smile for a few beats and said, “About… ten years ago.” Twenty years before ten years ago I was already being frightened by it.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #painting #portrait #art #alzheimers #oldmancatlove

This photo shows uncle Ralph around 1969, about the time he would have received the portrait, a gift from a friend. Here’s Ralph—a little younger than I am now—as he often appears before Alzheimer’s softened his exterior: tough, clean cut, unsmiling, focused on something more important than this stupid picture. Ralph loved boxing and ham radio. He never married, never talked about having kids, and only once did I hear a story about a girlfriend.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #art #pdx #painting #1969

On the back of the portrait, scribbled in pencil, it says: “Art Schaible 1968 The Indian Gall Fought against Custer and gave the best account of the battle.”

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #art #painting #1968

Photo from “Peterian ’67,” St. Peter High School, St. Peter, MN, 1967.

I never met the man who painted the portrait over our mantel. And until last week I had never seen a photo of him either.

Art Schaible (pronounced “shy-bull”) taught high school art in St. Peter, Minnesota, for decades. My ma, who grew up in St. Peter, says she probably took art from Art in 8th grade but doesn’t remember it. There are photos in yearbooks, she said, and scanned three for me. Here’s the first, with some excellent yearbook strangeness to come tomorrow.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #painting #art #portrait #highschoolyearbookdiscoveries

Apparently Art Schaible painted pictures of Nazis in front of children.

This is the second of three photos my ma scanned from her St. Peter high school yearbook, vintage 1967, showing Art in his teaching prime.

This photo fascinates me because it depicts the chasm between today’s school climate and the one my parents grew up in. I’m trying to imagine the circumstances that would get a photo like this published in a 2015 yearbook. The school leadership would have to totally disregard political correctness and potential parental complaint. But that’s just the beginning for me. It’s not just the Nazi, professionally framed yet staged on an easel as if Art is still working on this painting. It’s the suits they’re wearing in an art classroom and the gesture with the brush’s wood tip. What are they doing? Who was this guy who the next year painted the portrait of a Native American that I own? Was this painter/teacher a Fascist, or a war-loving provocateur, or something else?

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #portrait #painting #nazisinstrangeplaces

“What do I remember about Art? He was eccentric. He had the balls to wear leotards to teach school on occasion. He was a painter of dubious quality…” – Roland Rutz

A man’s leotard balls in midcentury rural Minnesota! I’ve been asking around about Art Schaible, and my dad, Roland, gave that wacky account of the man. He recalled other details: Art was married, had kids, then divorced. He loved antiques, worked as head wrestling coach at St. Peter High School, and died young—of what he doesn’t know.

In this, another photo from the “Peterian ’67,” Art poses with his assistant coach. The guy on the right would be replaced by uncle Ralph in fall 1968. Ralph taught tool and die making and helped Art coach wrestling. Ralph’s brother, my dad, has no idea why Art painted the portrait or why he gave it to Ralph.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #painting #portrait #pdx #wearyourleotardtowork

I contacted uncle Ralph’s lifelong friend Larry for more on Art Schaible and the portrait. He supported my dad’s line about the leotards: “Art would wear what he wanted to school, especially if they were in art instructionals,” Larry said. “He was a muscular, big guy, and no one would give him grief.”

Larry started working as an administrator at St. Peter high school in fall 1968, the same time Ralph started teaching there. He remembers the portrait as a going-away gift: “Ralph got it from Art when he left St. Peter.” Larry said Ralph cherished the portrait less for the subject matter and more because it came from his friend. Ralph and Art did college together at Mankato State and had same wrestling coach there. According to Larry, Art excelled at college wrestling and Ralph didn’t exactly. Ralph looked up to him, I think.

After his divorce Art married one of his former high school students and died of diabetes in his late 50s. “He just didn’t take care of himself. He liked to drink,” Larry said.

And the Nazi painting? Larry doesn’t remember anything about that.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #painting #portrait #pdx

Larry said Art probably painted the portrait during a special topics art class on Native Americans, which Art would teach every two years or so. “He had a special attachment or fondness of Native Americans, and Art liked to connect students to the local history, especially with the treaty here in Mankato.” Art would paint right along with his students, explaining the techniques he was using. “He was very hands on,” he said.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #portrait #painting #dakota

From “Harper’s Weekly,” January 1863.

The treaty Larry mentioned took place in Mankato, Minnesota, in the 1850s. The U.S. Government broke that agreement in 1862 and got what people now call the “Sioux Uprising,” a war between feds and Dakota, that ended in the trial and hanging of 38 Native Americans—the largest mass execution in American history.

I liked hearing the story as a kid, the big things that took place where I grew up, how the troops took this road or camped over there. It took until I was well into my own military service for me to fathom the terrible brutality and lack of honor in it.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #portrait #painting #art #massexecution

For years I thought Art’s title for the painting—The Indian Gall—was a bit of sarcasm about “gall,” as in bold, impudent behavior. “Those galling Indians. How dare they violently fight for rights to the land they’ve lived on for hundreds of years?” Turns out that was probably a misreading. “Gall” also means “gall bladder,” of course, and people get named for the strangest things.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #painting #art #portrait #pdx #custerslaststand

Chief Phizí, whose Lakota name translates to “gall bladder,” acted as military chief for Sitting Bull in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. Gall, as he came to be known, took five years to surrender to U.S. forces after defeating Custer, but when he did surrender he worked peacefully with federal agents on a South Dakota reservation until his death in 1894, trying to reconcile the two peoples.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #painting #art #pdx #portrait #thegallofthatman

This is my best guess at the source Art Schaible used to paint his portrait of Chief Gall in a St. Peter high school classroom, 1968.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #painting #portrait #art #gall

The photo on the left represents a bunch of fish on ice. On the right, a roiling cauldron of netted fish. Have you ever heard of seining? These photos show something of how my grandfather, Elmer, did it. He and his brother would drive a crew onto one of Minnesota’s many lakes—when the ice is a foot thick, you can park a truck on it—they’d drill a series of holes through the ice in a big ring and use long poles to work a net under the ice, then they’d pull all the fish in the area out with one big sweep. The “rough” fish got tossed into live tanks for the trip to restaurants in New York.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #portrait #art #painting #seining

The Rutz Bros. had Native Americans on their seining crew, pictured here. One story about them, with segregationist tones, destroyed the idea in me that my neighbors were better than those people down south who gave African Americans such a hard time. After a long day seining, Elmer and the crew sat down at a restaurant in tiny Morristown, MN. The waitress refused to serve the Indians. Apparently Elmer’s blood took a quick boil and a major argument broke out between patrons and the restaurateur. I don’t think there was any violence that night, but the story makes me wonder how often this kind of thing still happens. Minnesota racism—echoes of the Sioux Uprising?

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #portrait #art #painting #minnesotaracism

This photo, like Art’s portrait of Gall, conjures many strange beauties for me—like an archeological artifact, battered and struck through by new growth. My brother Karl took this photo as a teenager in the late 1990s. If you look closely below the bullet-riddled window on this dead husk of truck you can read, “Elmer G. Rutz/ Waterville, Minn.” It’s a relic of those seining days that sat in the cow pasture, an inviting place for a tree to take root and for growing boys to build a fort.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #pdx #art #portrait #treesgrowinginfunnyplaces

That’s a stuffed fish on a pile of junk on the farm, and my father going through boxes—photo by me in May 2007. A world record for a carp at the time, Elmer’s seining crew netted it on Parley Lake in the early 1950s. At the time it was caught, my dad’s nine-year-old body matched the length and weight of the fish. He said it was the Rutz Bros’ big claim to fame, and they tried to cash in. Elmer and Arnold “would put it on display in bars and have the info on the board it was mounted on. They got very little for their efforts other than thanks and a beer.” For me this bends the classic big fish story from the realm of tall tales into something sad.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #portrait #painting #art #worldrecordcarp

I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but it’s in the Rutz family collection, and so this image of a car swept into the water feels like part of my heritage. Art’s painting is like that, a link to the epic world the ancestors seem to have lived in—floods and famines.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #painting #art #pdx #flood #aestheticallypleasingsinkingcar

Photo by Mariano Cecowski, Argentina, 2005.

Looking at Art’s portrait is a little like viewing handprints in a cave—evidence of the ancestors really being here, a piece of creative debris from what must have been enormous expressive output, now mostly lost. Like a handprint, it’s a one-of-a-kind signature and a universal, human portrait at the same time.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #painting #art #portrait #handprints #cavepainting

Little by little we change the pictures we love—and not just our perception of them. Here’s a shot of Art’s painting as it sat on my easel recently. I set it up to shoot photos for this series and noticed my handprint in the dust. I’m seeing this painting in many new ways thanks to this little Insta-series, and here my fingerprints have become evidence of physical, chemical additions I’m unknowingly making to it.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #portrait #painting #artrestoration

A couple years ago, I removed the yellowing varnish from Art’s painting, cleaned it, and revarnished it with Gamvar for first-rate archival protection. It took more than confidence in the chemistry of oil paint to decide I had the right to overhaul it, though. Looking back, I realize it took owning my own house and starting my own family.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #painting #portrait #artrestoration #gamvarpicturevarnish

A painting isn’t just its subject matter. Brush strokes are a record of the painter’s bodily activity, and when I revarnished Art’s portrait, I was undoing some of that, replacing some of it with some of my own. We have to do that to the objects that link us to the past, or watch them rot.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #pdx #portrait #painting

In his excellent book What Painting Is, James Elkins writes, “To an artist, a picture is both a sum of ideas and a blurry memory of ‘pushing paint,’ breathing fumes, dripping oils and wiping brushes, smearing and diluting and mixing. Bleary preverbal thoughts are intermixed with the namable concepts, figures and forms that are being represented.”

#marchofthetalismanportrait #portrait #painting #art #pdx #whatpaintingis

“All the past can help you,” writes painter Robert Henri. I’m told I’m a very detail oriented painter, obsessed with accuracy. Art Schaible’s painting draws me in because it isn’t my kind of picture, yet it still gets me to buzz with emotion. I wonder if I’d like this picture so much if I had known Art. He isn’t here. His painting is.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #art #portrait #painting #pdx #goodadvice

I look at this painting every day. Any viewer can be forgiven for deciding Art’s picture is ugly, or that it doesn’t deserve the attention I’m giving it here. But everyone loves things other people find ridiculous (more on that tomorrow). Some day I want to make a picture that affects someone as thoroughly and as unexpectedly as this one has me.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #painting #portrait #livingroomdecor

The painting I hang over the fireplace as talisman to aid my own work barely competes with my wife’s talismans to the king of pop. This photo shows just a hint of the memorabilia she and her twin sister have collected: doll, blanket, pillows, book, mug, bowl, soda can and more. Check back tomorrow for even more.

#themarchofthetalismanportrait #thisisridiculous #art #areyoukiddingme #pdx #michaeljackson #livingwithmichaeljacksonobsessives

A picture of marriage. My wife dresses up as Michael Jackson—most recently two weeks ago, out for drinks and karaoke. She allows me to put Art’s portrait of Gall on the wall, and I indulge her requests to dress up as Blanket or Elizabeth Taylor and act as entourage to her one-gloved jazz pop moves.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #costume #michaeljackson #mywifeasadeadpopstar #michaeljacksonanonymous

I’m no longer the kid who would feel intimidated by this foreign and dark and alluring face. It’s in my space now, and after a month looking deeper into its stories, the painting’s mystery and power has shrunk to even more manageable size. This painting appeals to me differently today than it did even last month.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #pdx #art #painting #portrait

I set out this month to explain why a portrait by an obscure painter hangs above my fireplace, and ultimately it comes to this: For whatever reason, Art Schaible’s painting keeps leaping out of its frame when I look at it. The simple picture contains little but suggests much more to me, and it makes life feel fuller than my daily routine.

#marchofthetalismanportrait #painting #portrait #art #pdx

Thanks to SeenEugene Magazine for publishing this photo during the reception for my solo show in Springfield, Oregon, last week. We Are Full Body Viewers, 17 paintings of athletes on display until the end of the month at Emerald Art Center—the building with the famous Simpsons mural.

500 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon

We just hung a big show, titled We Are Full Body Viewers, on display at Emerald Art Gallery in Springfield, Oregon through March. Thanks to Paula Goodbar, the gallery director, for inviting me to be the gallery’s guest for the month.

We’ll celebrate with a hearty reception March 13, 5-8pm, with the usual goodies. Seventeen full body paintings, dancers, athletes… so much musculoskeletal effort resonating in paint. Join us!

Emerald Art Gallery, 500 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon