Minter and Owning It

While I was at work yesterday, my husband in an attempt to be cheeky sent me an article from the NY Times titled The Joys (and Challenges) of Sex After 70 : Sex can drop off in our final decades. But for those who keep going, it can be the best of their lives.

It’s actually a great, long read and a topic that should be considered advice for everyone, not just us oldsters. What I started noticing though are the photos accompanying the article, are all by artist Marilyn Minter. Excellent I thought. More of this sort of view of people outside of the narrow tunnel of what you would presume. Of course, as expected, some people were up in arms over the photographs. I went to the comments, which of course is always a ten-alarm dumpster fire if the topic is sex. God Bless America: How Vulgar!

All photos here copyright NYTs and Marilyn Minter. 

I’ve been watching Minter’s work for a long time, from back in the day when I was able to frequent the galleries in NYC on a regular basis. She, who at 73 years old is statistically the target audience the article is looking at. 

That being said, she has taken a career’s worth of criticism for choosing to focus on the sexuality of women from a woman’s point of view. 

In a recent Frieze article discussing an her exhibit  last September at the Montpellier Contemporain, in France, she says,

“I’ve always been a big fan of women owning their sexuality. Men find it threatening when young, beautiful girls make sexual imagery, but if you’re an old lady like me then you can do anything you want. There’s a famous photograph that Robert Mapplethorpe took of Louis Bourgeois holding what looks like a giant dildo (Louise Bourgeois with Fillette (1968), 1982) and everyone thinks it’s adorable, but if she were a young woman then people would be horrified – other women would be attacking her.”

I appreciate the photos in the NYT article. 

PS, they always say DON’T READ THE COMMENTS, yet here are a few left on the NYTimes site as a companion to the article, thankfully some more enlightened than others:

This article is hardly representative and the artwork appalling.

PS: Story is touching but photos are offensive.

Great article. This topic doesn’t get talked about enough. Intimacy is such a marvelous thing. Boo to the negative comments about attraction to aged bodies – aging happens to us all.

I loved the exploration of sex and intimacy as the body changes. The photos were fun, playful, and meant to be overtly sexual.

Good article. Thank you for featuring Marilyn Minter. (editor: yes, thank you).

On Marking the Days

It wasn’t my intent, by any means to start 2022 here with Danica Phelps, but here I am again.  Why do I find my way to her at the start of each year? I was looking for a poem for a friend but then I thought of resolutions, and then gratitude and then wait a minute we are back to Danica.

She has a brief about what she has been doing during the pandemic and writes on her website,

This project started early on in the pandemic when I had no idea if I would ever sell another piece of artwork, or if the tenants would be able to pay their rent in the 4 apartments that I own.  My son and I were playing Monopoly in the first couple of weeks of lockdown, and when he started crushing me, as he always does, I felt like Han Solo, clawing the side of a sandy pit, trying not to slip down into the jaws of the Sarlac.  It just felt too real when things in my life could be heading that way.  At the same time, I was reading an early draft of Eula Biss’s book, Having and Being Had, for which I am grateful to be on the cover, where she tells the story of Elizabeth Magie who invented Monopoly to teach empathy.  Yah, that made sense to me… that was before it was taken over by Parker Brothers and marketed as a game about capitalism.  When Orion and I first started playing Monopoly years ago, I observed with him that if we took turns developing our properties, and gave the other person a chance to make enough income to pay the rent instead of immediately going into debt, then both of us would win because we would get to keep playing the game.  Our economy should be like that… the markets should be built for everyone to participate.  We all win that way.  Instead, as Kimberly Latrice Jones spells out so well in her video, at minute 3:15, the system doesn’t work for Black and brown people in this country; how it’s like trying to play monopoly when you’re the one player starting the game with no money and then whatever you gain and earn is taken from you.

I think my pull to Phelps isn’t necessarily art related, but every-day related. Her thoughts are always grounded in what is now.  The marking of the days, the patterns of what we do with ourselves. She circuitously returns again and again to themes that make up the human condition. Maybe that is what I try to do each New Year’s Day, as pointless it is to designate one day better than another, or placing your optimism in the cradle of a few hours that quickly pass.

Danica Phelps, Cost of Love (panel #6), 2011 Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter


Katherine Bradford

I keep unknowingly gravitating to Katherine Bradford’s work. This fall, on a very brief visit to Maine I was at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, viewing a new acquisitions exhibit and came across her painting Fear of Dark which transfixed me. It captured perfectly a single feeling, a snapshot that welled up in me,  that isolation and  endurance we’d all felt during the pandemic.

Fear of Dark, 2020, acrylic on canvas, by Katherine Bradford

I was thinking of this painting again in a moment of connecting the dots when I randomly came across this piece yesterday, written by her son in 2016, titled How About a Little Badass Inspiration.

In it, he explains how his single mother of two went back to school at the age of 40 to get her MFA. Was dedicated for years in Greenpoint to making her work, teaching.

She kept up this routine for years, unwavering. She turned 50, then 60, and while she saw certain successes, we could tell she wasn’t satisfied. She’d speak of the difficulty of getting a gallery owner’s attention in a world populated by young up and comers, the very students she’d spent time teaching were now out there making their own marks, passing her by, even.

About the time she turned 70, my mother eased up on her teaching, but she didn’t ease up on her art. In fact, she painted with more focus and fury. She took on bigger canvases and made bolder statements.

And lo and behold, the art world began to take notice.

This of course fits in nicely with my appreciation of those who finally get the recognition they deserve.

Bradford, with her funny, somewhat awkward figures draw me in with their vulnerability. The obviously well thought out color that vibrates off the canvas. I love that I fell in love with her work before knowing anything about the artist.

Look at this beauty that she recently posted on Instagram:

“Flight, buoyancy and the human desire to soar” is what she wrote.

Buoyancy and endurance.


Terry Winters, Good Government

Good Government, 1984
Oil on linen
101 1/4 × 136 1/4 in
257.2 × 346.1 cm

What a perfect title for the past week of baloney in Washington D.C.

I’ve have a postcard of this work in my studio since first seeing it in probably 1993. I never tire of looking at Terry Winters work, but this remains my favorite. The postcard is now sun-faded beyond belief. I believe the original is part of the Whitney’s collection.

52 painters is a collection of artists I’ve been thinking about for a long time and want to talk about here. I have a love of Winters for his drawing of organic shapes and general charcoal use.

Here is his official site.

And his Beer with A Painter interview from 2015 which shows his humanity and I love in particular due to their discussion of above painting. Here is the excerpt for your viewing pleasure:

JS: Some of your paintings do have interesting and evocative titles, like the painting owned by the Whitney Museum: “Good Government” (1984).

TW: I was going to call it “Still life with Apples,” but no one would have believed me! The title is taken from Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government. But “Good Government” was also a poster in my elementary school: a chart picturing everybody doing their daily chores and being good citizens. It was also a joke about a painting “working”—the delusion of a painting’s functional formal completion.

One more for the road:






52 Artists – Danica Phelps on gratitude

A moment to think about a new year and gratitude through the eyes of Danica Phelps various gratitude drawings.

About the project from the Danica Phelps Projects website:

I started this project in the Spring of 2016 while I was listening to stories of refugees from Syria while working in the studio.  I felt the plight of these people so powerfully, leaving a life of daily terror to travel hundreds and thousands of miles, carrying nothing while I am sitting in my warm studio with lip balm at my desk, by my bed and in my purse so that I have it wherever I need it.  I decided that I had to do something to try to help.  I used my own skills by making 41 drawings of simple things in life that I am grateful for.  Clean water to drink, seeds to plant food in the garden and water that comes out of a tap to water them, the constant presence of my son, the presence in my life that I am most grateful for.  These are a few of the drawings.  In the October of 2017, I started posting them every couple of days on Facebook to auction them to raise money for organizations that are helping these refugees.

More on The Gratitude Project.

To start this project of my own again from a grateful place is how I would like to begin.

This is the start of artists I like to think about is here too.