Saturday, July 31, 2021


Feet can tell you everything you need to know about a relationship.

Jon Whitcomb sells silverware

ad for the Pan-American Coffee Bureau

In these two pictures, the women are obviously in control while the men dither.  

But linger a while.  Consider the subtler shades of meaning that pictures are able to communicate:  In the first picture the woman leans in, but her hands remain clasped demurely over her knees because she ain't giving anything away until the deal is sealed.  

The man leans in too; his legs are spread and his arm buttresses his stance-- he knows what he wants.  Yet, his wobbly feet betray his confusion because he's not in control of the negotiations and doesn't know what it will cost him.  

By comparison, the woman's legs are aimed like an Exocet missile.  He has the color of putty while she has the high contrast, red and white coloration of fight-or-flight.  Fire.  Blood. 

All this is conveyed without a single facial expression or word.

Now contrast the first picture with the second picture.  The ring box on the floor tells us why the woman is acting with more abandon.  The lighting in the apartment is lower.  The man's feet go from wobbly in the first picture to almost panicking in the second picture.  (Is his leg even raised a little defensively against the angle of her attack? He knows what he wants but seems a little unsettled by the prospect of getting it.) The sponsor's coffee only appears at the very edge of the picture, a product the company somehow wants us to associate with happy times on a sofa.  And of course, couples can enjoy coffee without requiring a bridal registry, unlike silverware.

In this next picture, we know right away we are dealing with a younger couple.  The artist has shown us malt shop chairs and bobby sox.

ad for Griffith Shoe Polish

Even at this younger age, the girl understands things the boy doesn't.  We don't need to see the boy's blushing face to tell that he is tense and confused.   His feet are straight, rigid and facing forward, rather than mirroring the angle of the girl's feet.  He knows he likes it but he isn't clear what he's supposed to do.

Art equips us with a richer vocabulary for exploring the range of complex human emotions.  The language of pictures can use feet to convey complicated feelings but it can also use hands, or folds in clothing, or shadows on a wall, or the tilt of a picture or its coloration.  It can use activity or quiescence, it can convey meaning with gaps or overlapping layers.  It might even use facial expressions.  The language of words can't hope to keep up.  And if we look at pictures with some self-awareness, we may get sensitized in the process.

What's going to happen to the people in these relationships?  Perhaps some of the women pictured here will get married, become disappointed in their loutish husbands and ultimately decide they can't take it anymore.

Well, feet can tell that story too: 

Monday, July 19, 2021


 Tom Fluharty is an artist with great enthusiasms.  

When he became enthused about dogs, he produced a torrent of drawings and paintings of dogs.  

They were marvelous-- funny, smart and truly insightful about the nature of dogs.

Then for a while he became infatuated with sharks.  He also produced a series of pictures of rock stars, and then a series of orchestra conductors.  Each time, he burrowed into his theme with enthusiasm and energy.  You can see in his drawings the pleasure he takes in playing with the character of his subjects.  

Now it's time for cowboys.

Fluharty has produced a brand new book full of drawings of cowboys.  

As with his previous infatuations his cowboy pictures are a delight, full of loving details, hilarious facial expressions and a variety of situations.  

The book contains 72 pages of new drawings in Fluharty's trademark indigo blue pencil.  I recommend it to all connoisseurs of draftsmanship.  

Fluharty's web site offers two options.  You can either order the regular book, or for those interested in owning an original, Fluharty is also offering a special inscribed edition of the book with an original drawing.    

Monday, July 05, 2021


 I love this tiny (221 × 152 mm) etching by Paul Klee, Suicide from the Bridge.

Smart, funny, compact, dense with meaning-- this little doodle from 1916 is everything that conceptual art today should be but rarely is.

There's sparse room for detail, so Klee chose to define our hero by his hat and moustache-- excellent choices!

Here Klee shows us the weight of time as the moment of destiny approaches:

The path from the bridge down to the water below is filled not just with wind currents and birds... 

... but also with gods and demons.


X marks the spot

100 pounds of content in a one ounce package.