ARTISTS: Albert Pinkham Ryder



“The Flying Dutchman” by Albert Pinkham Ryder

“Imitation is not inspiration, and inspiration only can give birth to a work of art. The least of a man’s original emanation is better than the best of a borrowed thought.”

-Albert Pinkham Ryder

A homegrown American visionary, Albert Pinkham Ryder was active mostly during the late 1800s in New York City. On his origins as an artist, Ryder wrote,  ‘When my father placed the box of colors and brushes in my hands and I stood before my easel with its square of stretched canvas, I realized that I had in my possession the wherewith to create a masterpiece that would live throughout the coming ages. The great masters had no more!'”


By the 1880s Ryder had arrived at his mature style, moody and luminous depictions of literary, religious and maritime scenes. At the time of their creation they were described as glowing, jewel-like works. Unfortunately Ryder’s eccentric nature extended into his painting techniques; he was reputed to have had a wildly careless and experimental methodology, using materials like bacon grease and kerosene as painting mediums in his creative frenzy, or putting sealing layers of varnish over wet paint, and then painting on top of the varnish. The result is many of his paintings have darkened, cracked, or even disintegrated entirely. What we see now is still beautiful, but it can only suggest the atmosphere the works must have originally had. I was fortunate to grow up outside of Washington DC, where the Smithsonian Institute has several of Ryder’s most significant remaining works on display.

Ryder didn’t do much new work after 1900, but his reputation grew. He lived long enough to see his work highlighted in historic 1913 Armory Show, the exhibit credited with really introducing modern art to the United States. Ryder’s individualistic approach, his simplified and stylized forms, were precursors of directions art would take in the 20th century. As Ryder himself noted,  “No two visions are alike. Those who reach the heights have all toiled up the steep mountains by a different route. To each has been revealed a different panorama.”


Albert Pinkham Ryder “Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens”  

ARTICLE: In The Art World, “Shut Up,” They Explained


Some “Art” by Carl Andre

Why “I Could Have Done That” Hurts Contemporary Art

A silly little article that participates in a growing trend among the elitists: Shut Up Culture. The establishment must be getting worried, and feeling their grip on the reins slipping. So the new attitude is no longer is anyone allowed to question or dissent from appreciating the shoddy house of cards they’ve designed for us all. The priggish repression of Political Correctness is having to expand into whole new territories to try and maintain their monopoly on thought and its expression.

See some contemporary art that does not show any particular skill or insight? Don’t you dare criticize it for that, the author here states. The problem is not that the art is feeble, but that you peons have a bad attitude.

The article also touches on the idea I feel as more to do with rotting out the achievements of contemporary visual art than anything else: the concept that art is some kind of puzzle, that its supposed to make you ponder and question what the nature of art is. You go down that rabbit hole, and you have left the experience of art-you’re now partaking in some particularly useless circular thinking, far removed from the vital experience of life.

Anyone one can question, it’s dull and easy and impersonal. What is more important is conclusions. Make an art that shows me where your inner questions have led you, and then we’ll be getting somewhere.

The article concludes: “The next time you find yourself in the Tate or wherever it may be, if someone utters the words ‘I could have done that’, simply reply: ‘then why didn’t you?'”

I have an answer: Because it was not worthwhile. And I will not shut up about the failure on display.

VIDEO: In the Art World, the Joke’s On Us

From the old Batman TV show-the Joker goes conceptual.

An interesting take on a change that was actually occurring in the arts during the 1960s. It can be seen as a prophetic pop culture reflection of the shift from modernism (the goofy abstract painters) to post-modernism-the Joker’s appropriated blank canvas as a work symbolic of “the emptiness of modern life!” Could have come straight out of the Saatchi Gallery.

Here we have the evidence. Conceptual Art is a tool of super-villainy, promoted by establishment useful idiots. Funny because it is so true.

Holy minimalism Batman!

ARTICLE: Portraits in Cowardice


Cartoonist Robert Crumb on the Islamic Massacre of Cartoonists

I’ve enjoyed the work of Robert Crumb for many years, an appreciation that grew after I saw the masterful documentary “Crumb” in the 1990s. Turns out he was actually the most normal person in his family, who would have thought it? Crumb’s works feature amazing draftsmanship, fearless self-exploration, and especially in his earlier art, incredible visionary imagery.

In the article above Crumb, now a resident of France, comments on how some of his colleagues were butchered for daring to defy a growing threat to Western civilization’s traditions of free expression. Crumb is no hypocrite here; despite the half-joking disavowal in his drawing, he had the guts to produce something that literally could get him killed, all in the name of freedom.

After all, who is there to protect him? The elites that have seized control of our institutions have made it clear they have no intention of providing effective resistance to the forces that would inflict a new dark ages onto the world.

It’s hard to say whether this is because our corrupted cultural institutions actually fear the forces of violence and extremism that they have brought into our societies, or whether they actually consider these malefactors as allies in their quest to destroy the culture of the West.

Which brings me to this article from a few years ago, which sadly is more relevant than ever:

Why Can’t We Admit That We’re Scared of Islam?

Among the most cherished notions of some art establishment types is how they are some kind of risk taking radicals dedicated to freeing society from injustice. Nothing could be further from the truth. When faced with real oppression and violence in the world today they somehow manage to remain mute and disengaged.

It’s a pretend activism, all pose, no substance. These shameful double standards makes them enablers of tyranny.

Key quote: “If you listen to artists, writers, academics and journalists, you would think that thousands of them operate in a radical underground. They say the right things. They ‘speak truth to power’, ‘transgress boundaries’, and all the rest of it. But you will have noticed that they are careful only to challenge religions that won’t hurt them (Christianity) and governments that won’t arrest them (democracies).”

Fearing bullies means they are winning. Determination and truthfulness are needed for real justice. Whether the establishment art world is failing to rise to the existential challenge of these times because of blatant cravenness or stealthy collusion doesn’t matter, because the end result is the same: they are useless. It also means there is even more need to speak and act in the name of freedom.


EXHIBITION ANNOUNCEMENT – “Booked: Contemporary Literary Art” at The Trunk Space

Portrait of EG

Richard Bledsoe “Mark Twain’s The Portrait of Emmeline Grangerford”

acrylic on canvas 30″ x 24″

“I got sick and tired of all that Purity! Wanted to tell stories.”
-Philip Guston
Back in the day the genre of history painting was considered the highest form of art. That type of imagery included not only actual historical events but religious, mythological, and literary  scenes.
Modern art turned attention away from narrative forms towards more theoretical and abstract concerns, with the practical effect of losing a great portion of the general audience. Telling stories is the way we connect with one another, and the visual arts have suffered from this disregard for such a fundamental means of communication.
In February Remodern America and the Trunk Space present a group show which embraces the art of the story teller, and pays tribute to beloved authors whose works have moved us, inspired us, and enriched our lives.

Participating Artists:

Leslie Edeline Barton, Michele Bledsoe, Richard Bledsoe,

Stephanie Carrico, Anna Dufek, Annette Hassell, Clay Martin,

Joe Montano III, David Morgan, Larry Ortega, Shelley Whiting


Artwork Inspired By Favorite Books

February 2 – February 28. 2015

Opening Reception First Friday February 6, 2015 6pm

Third Friday Reception February 20, 2015 6pm


1506 NW Grand Ave

Phoenix, Arizona 85007



COMMENTARY: The Integrity of Art

alternative evolution

Richard Bledsoe “Alternative Evolution”

The Sublime and the Divine

A piece on why the achievements of Modernism fall short of the works of the Masters. Key quote: “Yet the achievements of a Michelangelo — those that have survived — simply dwarf those of the Bacons, Freuds and the rest, in spite of all the resources of modernity. What changed? Was it, in Max Weber’s phrase, the ‘disenchantment’ of the world? Last month the New York Review of Books carried a previously unpublished talk by T.S. Eliot to a Cambridge literary society in 1924. In it, he defined modernity as ‘the movement which accepted the divorce of human and divine, denied the divine, and asserted the perfection of the human to be the divine’.”

Humanity is not perfectible. All efforts to defy our natures through our own efforts lead to division, fragmentation, conflict and failure. Modernity was an accurate representation of the spirit of its age, of the schisms that develop inside and outside of people when we make ourselves the center of the universe. Modern art documented the frantic casting about for a solution, trying out this theory, that theory, this aesthetic, that approach, but all such efforts are doomed. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” Eliot wrote, but the ruin will always break through in the end.

What the Masters had was a sense of integrity the Modern world rejected-integrity in the sense of wholeness, a sound condition. This is the spirit of Remodernism. We can learn from and use all the discord and ruptures of the last century and put the pieces back together. The Modern experiment failed. It did not bring perfection into the world by using human intellect, a feeble and limited tool under the best of circumstances. What is called for is a new mode of understanding, which is actually a very old mode of understanding. Enduring wisdom is greater than the equivocations of rationality.

PERFORMANCE: “Don’t Touch That Dial” Spoken Word at First Studio


Virginia Ross “How to Watch TV”

Don’t Touch That Dial-An Evening of Spoken Word

January 16, 2015 7pm Admission is Free

“Under Television Skies”  Third Friday Reception 6pm-10pm  

FIRST STUDIO 631 N 1st Ave Phoenix, Arizona 85003

The art exhibit Under Television Skies has been a wonderful event.  But during the January Third Friday reception, a whole different form of the arts will be represented when First Studio presents “Don’t Touch That Dial,” an evening of spoken word performance.

Once upon a time network television was the dominant force of media in this country, monopolizing communal communications and perceptions. Such limited choice seems quaint these days. Participating poet Shawnte Orion mused on how times have changed. “Before internet reduced the wide world to the convenient click of a mouse, we were tenuously connected to people on the other side of the country who also liked and followed the same television shows we were watching at thirty instagrams per second,” he observes.

Making use of the historic studio floor of the space, the performers of “Don’t Touch That Dial” will pay tribute to the vanishing age of television. The poets include: Manuel Arenas, Richard Bledsoe, Bill Campana, Jack Evans, Jeff Falk, Neil Gearns, Heather Smith-Gearns, Judy Green-Davis, Philip Haldiman, Trish Justrish, Deborah Berman-Montano, Joe Montano III, Ian Murdock, Shawnte Orion, Tracy Thomas, and more!

Although mass market TV tended towards lowest common denominator entertainment, every now and then a genuine work of art would slip in. Here is one of those moments of unexpected grace from 1959, when author Jack Kerouac performed accompanied by Steve Allen’s piano improvisations.

ARTICLE: Philip Guston’s Line

East Side 1980 by Philip Guston 1913-1980
Philip Guston “East Side”
A thoughtful take on painter Philip Guston as a draftsman in paint. Key quote from the article: “It was during this period that Guston also got rid of everything but the line in his drawings. Rendering, modeling, shading and all the other methods that we associate with traditional drawing — things that Guston could do well — were no longer called upon.”
Late period Philip Guston works are probably my favorite paintings of all. He won a hard victory, the return to personal vision after decades of conforming to the dogma of his age. To do so he returned to his first love and artistic activity, drawing. Guston described how as a boy he hid away for hours in a closet making pictures. When he reached a midlife crisis, when his abstract paintings had turned to ugly mud, he reached back to what captivated him in the first place, but found a way to use it with mature power and perspective.
Philip Guston is the proto-Remodernist. After a life spent as part of the establishment, he rejected the narrow minded, insular ideology of the art world and brought narrative, history, confession and excitement back into painting. He used everything which came before with abandon and created an integrated art uniquely his own.