Bridgeport Art Center Third Fridays


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My meet up buddy was again, the vivacious and spunky Miss Vero of Cicero, IL. She had to work until 9:00, on Friday, and the open studio was only until 10:00 but we went anyway, at 10:00. When the doors were closed and locked but we got in when someone else was leaving.
The Center is housed in what was once the Speigel catalog warehouse on 35th in Bridgeport, Chicago. The warehouse also houses a furniture dealer and an event venue which seemed to be hosting a wedding last night. We could see the flashing disco lights on the top floor beckoning us to crash the party.
Instead, we headed up to the third floor and found a couple studios still open and artists welcoming us to have a look. My favorite artist on this floor’s gallery space was Ruth Esserman whose artwork features thousands of identiless people shown from an arial view and looking busy at work though their poses were static. You cannot tell if the forms are male or female, what race they are or what they are wearing. They are assembled about in a way that reminded me of ants working together around their hill. There is no joy or drama just a sense of a task being handled through silent communication. The large paintings were my favorite because I was able to stand in front of them finding new things within for a while. It looked like colors were laid down then she put a white wash over them, removed areas where she wanted the figures, painted the figures and even used what looked like pencil for their shadows.




After the show, Vero and I headed over to Maria’s Packaged Goods for a drink. The beer menu at this place had us deliberating over what to order for at least ten minutes. Then, as is typical of time with Vero, we spent the next three hours involved in a great conversation. She gave me some tips on how to improve my blog and critiqued my refrigerator and pantry contents (Vero was my house sitter while I was in Greece). I learned, finally, what a Michelada is and why there was some leftover Clamato on a shelf in my fridge. Vero is a good example of benefits of teaching beyond summers off. Kids grow up and become adults and the ones you really connected with while they were in school can become your friends as adults. Friends that are great additions to your life and who have things to teach you.

Bridgeport Art Center

Maria’s Packaged Goods

Ruth Esserman

Art Institute Book Club Meeting


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When we read a book we like to meet places that are somehow related to the book. When we read Loving Frank, for example, we decided to meet at Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park. For Caveat Emptor we decided to hit The Art Institute Of Chicago and see if we could find some of the artists Perenyi forged.

Twenty four hours before we met I tweeted @perenyi_ken to let home know what we were up to in hopes that he would tweet back. He did not. Sigh. But that means now I can talk shit about his forging because he probably won’t check out the tweet I compose about this blog.

With the Art Institute’s map and App in our hands we first headed to The Early American Art gallery and found a Peto, a couple Heades, and a Sargent.

Here we are in front of a Heade.

Rachel and I had both downloaded the book on our devices and didn’t find the examples of Perenyi’s work until we finished the book because they are at the end. “If I knew that’s what he was describing while I was reading I wouldn’t have been so impressed,”remarked Rachel. I agreed. Many well known Early American artists and works sought out by collectors (who pay high prices) really aren’t that good if you are expecting super realism or quality comparable to Winslow Homer. I think the reason Perenyi, who is a self taught artist, was able to replicate works so well was for two reasons: 1. He was a genius about using authentic materials and making new paint look old. Much of his labor went into creating authentically old looking paintings. 2. As a beginner painter he knew he had to choose artists whose abilities matched his.

I kind of wanted to walk around more and point out my favorite European artists and explain why they were important. But when I had to talk Dora and Rachel into seeing the Magritte exhibit and they finished it in ten minutes (it took me an hour to get through it) that was my first clue that they were reaching their end. Dora kept texting and looking at her phone, they seemed unimpressed by my pointing out the beauty of the architecture in the museum, and I’m sure Rachel’s feet under her very pregnant belly were killing her. I had to realize my friends were just not as into it as I am and get the out of there. So, we wrapped things up and found a place to feed us salad.

The Art Institute of Chicago

First class flying


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I have been home now for twenty four hours but it doesn’t really feel like that long. I left Cephalonia on a 7 p.m. Flight into Athens Sunday evening. My flight home wasn’t until the next morning so I had to stay at the airport for twelve hours. In those hours I had a meal at the airport hotel and watched the final World Cup Match. Then I went back to the airport and found a couple of cushy chairs to pull together and lay on. But since I was by myself I couldn’t sleep very well.

At 5 a.m. I checked into my flight. I used miles for my round trip to and from Athens. All my miles. I had 110k and I needed all of them. The last time I used miles to get to Europe I only needed 70k. Sigh. I always check to see if I can upgrade to business or first class and it’s usually either unavailable or too expensive but for this trip I found an upgrade to first class on the way home would cost $300 so I did it. I was in a business class seat from Athens to Frankfurt and it really wasn’t any different from economy, except that the food was better. From Frankfurt to Chicago, though, I was in my own little “pod” and didn’t even feel like I was on a plane. I could barely contain myself when I saw my little “pod” and took this picture.

It was my first ever first class experience and it seemed the same for all people up there because we were all taking pictures of our “pods.”
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At one point during the flight I saw the guy in front of me raise his camera above his head so he could video tape the entire circle of space around himself. (He will see me waving at him when he looks back on that video.)
Right after that I took this picture:

The food was phenomenal and my wine glass was never empty. I fell asleep before dessert but woke up an hour later to find my tray was gone and the need to use the bathroom before reclining my seat fully flat to get some real sleep. On the way to the bathroom I found everyone asleep. We looked like babies in basinets. Giant babies with the proportions used by iconographers under down blankets and sleeping soundly while the flight attendants did their paperwork. It made me giggle a bit. I remembered the flight to Athens where I awkwardly tried to find a comfortable position to sleep in while the kid next to me would wake me with his occasional rancid farting and the kid behind me bumped into my seat. I remembered the stupid woman who woke me when she opened her shade to peer into the obscenely bright sun lit sky. This, I thought, is probably what everyone back in economy must be experiencing and I didn’t feel one bit guilty. I slept like the baby I resembled in my fully flat seat. I had enough room to lie on my side or my back, however I wanted. This is how everyone should be able to fly on trips more that a couple of hours. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go economy again. I will need to save another 110k miles before I return to Europe and you’d better believe I’m going to look for that upgrade.

I used my Global Entry status on my passport to bypass the long lines at passport control, found my luggage easily and got out of customs speedily to find my mom waiting for me to welcome me back. It’s nice coming home to your mom no matter how old you get. First class love.

Caveat Emptor


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My book club decided on Caveat Emptor by Ken Perenyi, a memoir about his life as an art forger, before I came up with the idea of dedicating my summer to art. The book is interesting, entertaining, educational and a bit humorous as well as surprising.

Perenyi was a kid without any idea of what he wanted to do with his life when he met a group of people in the New York City art scene just after he graduated high school. The young adults introduced him to the art scene and included him in their parties and social circle during the late 1960’s. As someone who always hated school but was good with his hands Ken fit right in and was encouraged to create. He became interested in antique furniture and old paintings and the process of restoring them which led to a realization that he could create paintings that looked like pieces art collectors would pay top money for. In the beginning Perenyi thought the skill to be a temporary way of earning money in order to fund his own art but it became his life career.

The book is filled with an array of characters you’d imagine a person coming into contact with through such a line of work. Perenyi becomes friends with fashion models, mobsters, cleptomaniacs, drug addicts, lawyers, thieves, art restorers and wealthy collectors. We are taken through Pernyi’s young adulthood into present times and see how his career develops and how he adapts to challenges. What interested me most was reading about how he was able to simulate the cracking of old paint and the aging of varnish. He hunted for old panels and canvases to paint on to make his the materials authentic and he learned a lot by working in art restoration.

Perenyi’s writing style is simple, his art is in painting, after all; but the book is interesting at the very least. I have always said that if I could do any other career it would be in art restoration and the book has me thinking about that path again. I completed it as I ended my trip to Greece, which seemed very appropriate.



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My cousin and her family are Greek Orthodox. Friends of hers from her church back in Illinois were visiting at the same time that I was and we all took a trip up the mountain to the monastery of Cephalonia’s patron saint: Moni Agiou Gerasimou. Because he is the island’s patron saint many children are named after him, which is why “Gerry” is a popular name here.

Gerasimou was a bit of a hermit and hid in caves below what was the monastery’s original temple. You can climb down some stairs and see the caves. Also, the body of Gerasimou is held in a crypt here and may be visited and honored.



The temple is beautiful but a newer, even more extravagent, church is built next to it and has been in the process of being completed for over thirty years. Inside are golden chandeliers, white marble fixtures, and icons painted in a rainbow of bright colors and embellished by gilded backgrounds that depict every story of the Bible. The iconographers explained that they only paint in spring and summer when the weather makes it possible for the paint to dry properly.



Of interest to me, as an artist, was the traditional style in which the icons are painted. The building and artists are modern but the figures are painted in a style that ignores what modern painters know about proper figure proportions and accurate portrayal of the human form. Regardless, the site is a must see for any visitor to the island of Cepahlonia.

Aqua Magic


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At the beach today I took note of the turquoise waters and was reminded of a group of AP students I had the pleasure of working with a few years ago. This group was very skilled, funny, clever and  talented at the art of critique.  We had a running inside joke that if your piece had any issues or you felt you needed to add something the answer was always, “aqua.  Add some aqua.”  It was funny but it was also true.  Aqua is a magical color.



Have you ever known anyone that didn’t look good wearing the color aqua?  Have you ever met a person that didn’t like the color?  I was on a plane, once, seated next to a woman who read cards and was into people’s aura’s and all that.  You know the type.  She took note of my turquoise ring and earrings and said, “ahhhh…turquoise.  This stone is known to attract men when women wear it.”  Well guys, we have something in common.  Because I can’t walk away from turquoise jewelry when I see some.  

Do we love this color because it reminds us of waters that beckon our visits in far away lands?  Or is it just plain universally beautiful?  


All the postcards I painted have aqua in them, but my favorite is the one that is almost all aqua.  

Which style capital are you?


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Which of the three Greek capital styles do you prefer? Take this little quiz to see.


If you are going out with friends what do you wear?

a. I dress casually but nice, my clothes are pressed and clean. Maybe jeans but a nice stylish pair.
b. I like to step it up a notch when I go out but I am no clothes whore.
c. Whenever I go out I always wear the most fashionable clothes and I never forget to accessorize.

When ordering at Starbuck’s what do you get?

a. Starbuck’s? Nah… I get Dunkin Coffee or make my own.
b. An Americano or Espresso.
c. A frappeccino, cappuccino, a mocha, or anything with whipped cream on top.

Which painting below do you prefer?


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Where do you shop for groceries?

a. Aldi
b. Whole Foods or an organic supermarket
c. Treasure Island

Which church interior is your favorite?







Where would you prefer to dine?

a. At home, with or without company.
b. I like to frequent cafes and trendy restaurants.
c. I prefer white table cloth restaurants with a sommelier on staff.

Which actress knows how to red carpet the best?







What is your favorite slogan?

a. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid.
b. Namaste
c. YOLO!

If you chose mostly “a’ as your answers you are Doric. Doric is the most simple of column capitals. This style is elegant and is concerned mostly with creating a balanced transition into the architrave.


If you chose mostly “b” as your answers you are Ionic. You like a little bit of flair but you mostly are concerned with symmetry and order. You prefer organic to geometric design and probably practice yoga.


If you chose mostly “c” as your answers you are Corinthian; the fanciest of all capitals. You like a party at the top of your columns and you like the party to have all the bells and whistles and you’re not afraid to say so.


Politics and Street Art


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Before going to Greece a friend asked me if I had heard how the government was turning to the extreme right and the nazis were taking over. This was not completely true but had he mentioned it I would have been made aware of the situation just by observing the street art. My favorite image was of a PAC man eating the Nazi swastika, unfortunately I was in a car when I saw it and unable to find it again on on foot.


Disappointed with the government after the recent economic crisis the party, Golden Dawn, has earned power from the citizens of Greece. They have earned votes with lies and impossible promises to solve the crisis told to the uneducated who are, in many cases, unaware of the party’s full history and beliefs. The symbol of the party is a new twist on the old swastika so their racism and history is cloaked.




Artists have long played an important role in educating the illiterate with the use if simple images and public art. I for one asked questions after seeing these simple street stencils so I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Making Decisions


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I have a decision making problem and I’m finding it gets worse as I grow older. It’s usually fueled by fear and doubt. I was very unsure of which town to book my hotel in on this island before I came here and it was all based on past mistakes I’ve made while traveling. The thing is, you can never know enough before you go and that’s actually part of the thrill of it.

I used my membership on Couch Surfer to try and find some friends in Crete before I arrived. l sent out about ten emails to other members asking if they’d like to meet. I sent messages only to people close in age to myself, though many surfers are much younger. One woman responded that she was sorry but she would be out of town and one man responded that he would be happy to meet with me.
I am always a bit careful about men because, well, they are men. This man worked at the Chania airport and made time to greet me when I arrived and welcome me to Chania. I thought that was very nice. He directed me to where I could find the bus and then we made plans to go to the beach the next day. It was perfect because I was exhausted from ruins trekking in Athens.

My friend, Dora, is a huge Crime Tv fan and has fantastic ideas about what might happen to single women traveling. The next morning I had coffee with my new friend, which he paid for, and afterwards I promptly sent her a message describing him so she could let Gideon know the details of how we met should I come up missing.


At the beach I met a friend of his and we had plenty of time to get to know each other. He is a very nice man but I was getting the feeling that maybe he thought I was using Couch Surfer as a dating site. I told him that I wanted to go see Knossos and he said he didn’t think it was worth the long bus ride. I mentioned going through the Samarian Gorge and he explained that he felt it would be too difficult. I mentioned visiting Rethymno and he said his town was the most beautiful and that even tourists said so.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine back in Chicago hooked me up with a friend he met here in Chania ten years ago. Her name is Anna and we hit it off right away. We went out for drinks and her boyfriend met us also. When the check came I tried to pay my share but he would not let me. This was like what happened with my couch surfer friend spin was a little perplexed. Anna explained that it is customary for men to pay for women they are with no matter the relationship. Maybe some remnant of the history of Goddess worship on the island, maybe just plain nice.

When I mentioned any of the things I wanted to do in Crete Anna responded with encouragement. I sent text messages to my girlfriends back home about hiking the gorge and they too encouraged me to go for it.
With this I realized I was letting the words of a man I had just met influence the entire reason I came to Crete in the first place. So, yesterday I spent about seven hours on buses just for a few hours at Knossos and it was completely worth it.





I took a risk in meeting a man I found on the internet and it turned out I had a nice time with him. I learned from him and from Anna and from myself.
In the end we must go with our gut and know who we are, what we are capable of and trust in our own selves to know what will be best for us.


Goddess Worship and Matriarchal Societies


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Before humans understood the role of men in childbirth women were revered and held in awe for having this ability to bear children. They were viewed as powerful and were respected and worshipped for it. Women played important roles in their communities and were leaders of peaceful societies. As men realized their importance in reproduction children became owned by them and women slowly lost their influence and power. This is (short version) a feminist theory but it is true that Archaeological finds on the island of Crete imply that Minoan society was matriarchal. These are things I learned while in my Master of Art program at Northern Illinois University and this is why I had to include Crete in my Grecian holiday.

Crete became one of those far away places I knew I one day had to visit and this is how I wound up in the most beautiful town of Chania (Xania/Hania) on the island of Crete.

20140705-223425-81265828.jpg statues of female mourners – exclusive to Minoan Crete.

Wall hangings inferring worship of the female figure.

I was able to see some of these findings at the Archaeology Museum of Chania, Crete.

More information on this topic can be found In this article:


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