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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Artist Statement

I had to create an artist's statement along with a portfolio on
So here it is:

I have been doing abstract painting for over 30 years. I am largely self taught, although I have attended several courses throughout my life. I am a physicist by training and profession and the painting has complemented this work throughout my education and career.


To me, painting is a playground where conflicts and disparate elements may be resolved visually. I draw a lot from the natural world, having grown up spending a lot of time in redwood forests of California, and since then in the Alps and now the Rocky Mountains.


My painting process is interactive. I start with certain shapes or colors and then I seek to integrate them into a coherent whole, iterating periodically, reevaluating as the work develops. Growing up in a divorced family, going between two different homes, painting provided a way to play with integration of elements that seemed to come from completely different worlds. Painting became a practice for me to find a vision of integration, or to at least practice with dissonance. I have mainly worked with acrylic paints which dry quickly and allow for multiple layers as well as blending.


My profession as a particle accelerator physicist leads me down long and narrow paths in my mind to understand subtle dynamics of relativistic particle motion and creation and evolution of radiation resulting from these high energy particles. I have recently been experimenting with integrating some of the equations from my work into the abstract forms in my paintings, attempting to find peace between the technical mind and the mind engaged in the human or natural world. I hope that my artistic work may have a broad resonance in the world today where humanity depends on highly technical systems that for many are inscrutable. Bringing some of the concepts and artifacts underlying our technical infrastructure into the human and natural world feels integrating for myself, and I hope could have a similar effect on others.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Across the Ocean

    Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania,  These modern day countries during the 1800's up until 1917 were part of the Pale of Settlement. There were Jewish communities in each of them, still surviving from the original Exodus, not so much from Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula as from Judah and Israel to Babylon. A common thread held these communities together that slid back into time through the Talmud to the Mishnah to the Torah. 

    And there was another thread would connect the Jewish communities in these four cities. This thread would wind its way around the leaves, branches and trunk that would become my own family tree, leading to my being born in Santa Cruz, California, America in 1976.

    The Nasch family lived in the Hungarian city of Nagyv├írad, which later became the Romanian city of Oradea following the treaty of Trianon in 1920. Akos Nasch was born in a smaller town of Poklostelek (later known as Poclusa de Barcau), 40 km northwest of Oradea. The Bernsteins came from Lithuania, my great grandfather Herman from Vladislavov, then on the border of Russia and Germany. At the turn of the century, the Finegoods and Silberts lived in Bessarabian Shtetls in Ananyev, Kherson, and Odessa. They would soon be driven out by the anti-Semitism fueled blood libel leading to the Khishinev massacre.

    Nasch, Bernstein, Finegood, Silbert, these surnames for my grandparents form the trunk and primary branches of my family tree, leading eventually to my parents Patricia and Peter who would grow up in Los Angeles, California, America.

    The Silberts and Finegoods leave the hatred of Bessarabia in the early 1900's and resettle in only somewhat more hospitable lands of central Canada, arriving in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where my grandma Mary would be born in the city of Winnipeg.

    Akos grew up and became a medical student, the first in his town to leave, having earned a scholarship at the university of Tours in the Loire region of western France. There he met Dorothy Bernstein at a Purim party a cold February afternoon. A spark was lit that day as they wrote each other letters, from initial furtive visits to growing love. The letter continued as Dorothy and Violet left Tours to Grenoble, and eventually traveled through Europe and then back to America with their famous father, the journalist and patriarch, Herman Bernstein.

    Meanwhile, the Finegoods and Silberts have started a store they manage during the cold Canadian winters. Mary Finegood meets Joe Silbert. She admires his piano playing and soon they are married. The families together encompassed close to 30 siblings. The Jewish thread now having crossed the Atlantic and spinning out new threads pushing forward into time through their three children, John, Andy and Patty.

    In New York, 1929, Herman's connections to Herbert Hoover have earned him the position of the US ambassador to Albania and the family sets sail back across the Atlantic to take up the post in Tirana, meanwhile leading Dorothy and Akos back together again having continued their courtship by letter in secret. Dorothy had come to call Akos by the name Nicky, and these letters, primarily in French became known later by Dorothy, as the Dorothy-Nicky  correspondence, a joke echoing the Willy-Nicky correspondence, uncovered and published by Herman a decade earlier, encompassing secret letters between the Czar of Russia and the Kaiser of Germany. Whereas the Willy-Nicky correspondence led to war, the Dorothy-Nicky correspondence led to marriage.