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Just so you all know.  I am gearing up a campaign for getting comments on my blog and will be sending out a newsletter to everyone on my mailing list to comment on my blog entries so far and send out word about this blog to everyone they know.

I hope all my friends on facebook will do this too (hint-hint).

Whoever comments the most in the next 3 months will receive an original oil painting – painted in my own unique style…that I would even have a painting style at this point is questionable…but I digress. 

Of all the paintings I paint in the next 3 months (and my goal is to paint one a week) who ever has made the most comments on my blog during this period of time will get to choose one of those paintings. 

Here’s an example.  I painted it today.  It is of a few of our chickens, Sally, Matilda, and Mickie.  The chickens stand on our back porch several times a day and petition for bread.  I convinced them to put down their little “Give Us Bread NOW” signs so I could photograph them and bribed them with bread to pose off and on during the day.

These paintings won’t be masterpieces since, hey – I’m a professional sculptor…and I paint for fun.  And these won’t be large (no bigger than an ipad) but they will be original and you, most frequent blog commenter, will get to choose!  How fun is that?

I will post photos of what I paint as I go forward with future posts. 
And, yes, whatever you pick will be framed.

I am doing this to thank whoever comments the most often because comments are so important to the successful readership of a blog. 

This also keeps my sculpting brain working well…cause, you see.  When painting I am taking the 3d world (aided with photos sometimes) and recreating it in 2d (a creation that hopefully looks 3d in 2d) and when I sculpt, I sculpt primarily from photos…which is the reverse – so I take a 2d representation of a 3d object that I am recreating a 3d object from that.  This maybe makes no sense unless you are an artist (and it maybe makes no sense if you are an artist)…but somehow it keeps me more creative…maybe it balances my brain :).

MMmmmm.  Balanced brain….

Of course I’m doing this too to generate more and more interest in my sculpture and in me as an artist over time.  There is that

Artists can sit in their studio and create…but that doesn’t do anything to share their work with the rest of the world.  I want to share what I do with all of you.  I want this blog to be one way of doing that.

Sorry about the evening writing of this today…I’ll have more in the morning and a newsletter out tomorrow for my newsletter readership.  If anyone reading this would like a newsletter, please go to my website and sign up or drop me a note in FB or in email and I’ll put you on my mailing list. 

Thanks for reading.


My husband and I just purchased an artwork this last weekend that we liked – and we love that we know the artist.  However – we (as in I) aren’t wild about the frame around it.  Mark’s response to me saying that we would need to get a different frame was “But that would make it different from what the artist wanted it to be.”

Hmmm.  I don’t know how much I agree with that.  If someone took one of my sculptures and put it on a different base I would have zero problem with that. 

When it comes to basing my work – it is thought out, sure.  But my intent is to try to make it as undistracting (new word) from the sculpture as possible. 

But once someone owns one of my sculptures if they have another thought that, to them, might improve the piece in the context of it’s new setting, it certainly doesn’t affect the value of the sculpture itself to change that aspect of it…as the base (in the case of my sculpture anyway) is not part of the composition of the piece.

But what if a frame on a painting is distracting and not complimentary to the piece?  (IMHO of course).  Check out this frame around this painting of a monkey.  (No, this is not what we bought last weekend and this is not a piece of art we own).

there are no words…..

Artists?  If someone buys one of your framed paintings and wants a different frame or re-frames it themselves, how to you feel about that?

I have been reading a digital copy of Birge Harrison’s book “Landscape Painting” (a wonderful little book by the way) and in it he has a section “On Framing Pictures” and I thought I would share an excerpt from that chapter today.

“…And I re-discovered that fact, which the old masters had discovered so many centuries ago, that there was no material in the whole range of nature so admirably fitted for the surface of a frame as gold or metal leaf.  Next to the mirror, it presents the most elusive of all surfaces.  Semi-reflecting, semi-solid, it is just the thing that fills all the requirements…in a study of the best forms and the best tones of metal leaf to be employed…it soon became apparent that the law of complementaries reigned supreme.  A picture whose dominant note was pink demanded a greenish gold frame, a blue picture called for a tone of pure yellow or orange gold, while a picture whose dominant tone was golden yellow could only be well clothed in silver.  Fortunately, the dominant note of most landscapes is found in the blue or blue-gray sky, and thus the pure gold frame is its ideal casing.”

He goes on to say that generally complex and complicated pictures benefit from a more simply styled frame while a simple picture “…built up with a few broad and powerful masses, will frequently appear best in a rich and ornamental frame.”

But rich and ornamental he cautions, should not be too over the top…

 (I’m paraphrasing of course since the book was published in 1910 and “over the top” probably was not a figure of speech back then).  He maybe had something like the frame above in mind…which is for a mirror..  Seems like the most ornate frames I have ever seen were for mirrors, come to think of it.

Oh gosh.  Here’s a deep thought.  Is the reflection of reality so uninteresting that framing it as fancy as possible is necessary?

I would love to hear from other artists how you frame your work.  Do you make your own frames or do you have a supplier?  If you make your own, how did you learn? and do you have any instruction out on the web that we can check out?  And if you have a supplier, who is it?

Hello art collectors!  What are your frame preferences?

That’s all I have for today. 
Thanks for reading.

I’m off to continue do my best to create a beautiful day.
…and I hope you create – in your own beautiful way –
 your own beautiful day.  🙂

June 23, 2014

It’s Monday, June 23 and I have dedicated myself to writing a blog entry every day.

I do not consider my life to be what anyone would describe as exciting so this could be the most incredibly boring blog ever if I just talked about my life.  What I think is important is to connect with other artists. 


Maybe other artists are also feeling that their life is also not incredibly interesting but they are nevertheless also developing their art career and are also learning more about how professional artists structure their days from day to day.


I don’t want this blog to be just a one way dialogue and want to hear from other artists (and any creative business person/entrepreneur) too so we all can learn from one another. 


What works in your life?  You are always learning how to manage life and create the best art you can…just like me.  It isn’t easy.


So that is what I will talk about – each day what I do to create art and make what I do better and the other adventures into art that I embark on and the other things that just happen that enhance or interfere with that.


I have been refreshing my art education since the beginning of the year.  I spend a portion of the beginning and/or end of the day learning something about art and artists through history.  This must come up (art history) just with the every day sketching I have been doing…I have been involved in the study of values and perspective, for instance – and how can the study of value and perspective not lead me to learning more about da Vinci?   


I have been trying to shore up the holes in my art education in other ways – for example, I have been learning more about oil painting.  You can’t paint well if you can’t draw well…I think. 


I want to paint some scenes from around our property to frame and hang in the living room which is currently being remodeled a bit to make it more of a gallery space for my sculpture.  So I have been on Stapleton Kearns blog and he is fantastically educational not just about painting but about art history.


These things and more (to be shared in future posts) have been important inroads to keeping me motivated to sculpt more and to always think of myself and my work as truly a professional endeavor. 


I hope to hear from anyone out there, all of you artist/entrepreneurs.  What do you do every day?  Do you try to continually educate yourself about art and what is it you do to keep your work it’s best and to keep your muse alive?

10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People

Creative people are humble and proud. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. Creative people are rebellious and conservative. How creative are you?

I frequently find myself thinking about whether I am an artist or an entrepreneur.

It is safe to say that more and more entrepreneurs are artists, and artists of all kinds are entrepreneurs. And the trend is only on the rise as all things (art, science, technology, business, culture, spirituality) are increasingly converging.

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical.

Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people.  In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1.  Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2.  Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.  Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”  So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

The boring stuff:


The material I use to sculpt with is made by Padico in Japan and there is only one distributor of it in the US.  It is typically sold in craft stores – although we purchase it in bulk directly from the supplier.  It is made from paper pulp, talc, water, and some binders and whatever else it is – is a mystery- the formula for it is proprietary.


Most sculptors sculpt with chavant like clays – the kind that never dries.  When I started sculpting I used the same.  I hated it.  Sculpting something that is permanently attached by a pipe to a board is frustrating to me, partly because of my eyesight, partly because of my temperament.


The material I use has it’s own unique characteristics and challenges but sculpting with it adds a unique element that makes the sculpture I do look different in bronze than all the sculpture originally made with non-drying clay.   It has a bit of a life and will of it’s own.


I am very nearsighted so I wear glasses or contacts to correct that.  For me it is a very good thing though – for sculpting – because it means that (even though I am of an age where most people need reading glasses to see close up) my close up vision is really really clear at about 9″ from my face.


If a sculpture is attached to a board I cannot see parts of it well.  So I have to be able to hold a sculpture in my hands for most of the time to work on it – this cannot be done with non-hardening clay – as I would just end up burying my fingers in the very thing I am trying to create.


Non-hardening clay is also very heavy and the paper clay I use is extremely light so the long legs of the horses are not too weighed down by their bodies.


The esoteric stuff:


The reason many sculptures are being done at one time is because rather than image just one horse, I imagine them in groups.  I saw the house horse series (look, relax, itchy, leap, watch, and step high) all in one day and made their wire armature forms that same day before I could forget how they were to be.


They were imagined in 2010 and the last one has just been finished.  It seems to take FOREVER to make them this way.  I know galleries enjoy prolific artists – I guess I would not be that – but consider that “prolific” and the annihilation of creativity very often walk together.


I work on them until they are how they are supposed to be and that can take time, most certainly takes inspiration and an uncluttered undistracted mind.  For example, I can re-carve a face 3 or 4 times until I know that is the face that sculpture is supposed to have.


I once was very determined to be a rich and famous artist.  But I have been learning that’s just common ego – doesn’t most everyone in their head think that being a rich and famous this or that is what they must be to be seen and respected in the world as “somebody”?


But polluting what happens in the only time I know I have because I am “working” to get to a place that may never be – also gets in the way of creativity (and happiness)…and is something that could cause the work of any creative endeavor to become stagnant, uninspired, and derivative.


I am asked what is the style of my sculpture.  I respond with – what do you see?  Do you see an “-ism” there?  Impression-ism?  Expression-ism? a school of this or that?  Art is it’s own language;  to describe art with another, different language – is an act of reductionism.  Translate a Haiku written in Japanese into English and you invalidate its beauty.


There is freedom that comes with the belief that the sculpture I create does not belong to me – that it belongs to the world.  I believe all art that is made public belongs to the world and is meant to enhance everyone’s experience of being…here.   That means the world will decide what happens to it until the day it becomes a part of the history of art…long after I am gone.


I consider what I create to be a collaboration and that is the reason why I will occasionally ask collectors, gallery owners, and consider unsolicited comments about my sculpture.  It isn’t that I am insecure that what I have created is good bad or uninteresting.  I only saw what I saw – and made it and there it is.  Where did it really come from?  The absolute truth of that cannot be known.  But maybe I can get closer to it if  I consider and leave myself open to other relative ideas and possibilities…

(this is a reprint from my blog dated October 5th, 2012)

I check in on the Sylvia White Gallery blog from time to time and I just had to share this (thanks Sylvia) – for anyone who knows and loves an artist – this is for you 🙂

12 Step Recovery Program for Artists

Sylvia WhiteSeptember 19, 2012
1.  Admit that you are powerless over your ARTmaking, and it is the only thing that makes your life manageable.

Many artists describe the feelings they get from making art as an almost spiritual or sexual experience, feeling a complete and total sense of happiness and being at one with the world. Much like the feeling an athlete gets from hitting the ball in the sweet spot. But, instead of it being a fleeting moment, it is a lasting sense of satisfaction and contentment. It is what keeps them the sane, wonderful people we love.

2. Believe that ART is a Power, greater than yourself, and can restore you to sanity. 

Making art is the way artists create order out of chaos. It is a personal order, that allows them to navigate their way through life. The most positive addiction. When you find yourself cranky or irritable, is it really just because you haven’t allowed yourself quiet time to work?

3.  Made a decision to turn yourself and your life over to ART.

The term “frustrated artist” didn’t come out of nowhere. Societal pressures, parental pressures, and sometimes our own need to succeed or fear of failure, keeps a lot of artists from ever realizing their dream. You can’t escape from it forever…eventually, the need to create will overpower whatever rational reasons you have developed to keep yourself from finding the time to make art. The sooner you accept it, the better.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of your ART skills.

There is nothing wrong with being a self taught artist. But, in the same way your vocabulary skills can improve communication skills, so can developing your technique as an artist. The beauty of creativity is it’s never ending quality. Making sure that you are constantly looking, learning and improving your skills as an artist (and that includes keeping up to date with technology) will ensure you are working up to your potential

5.  Admit to yourself and one other human being, the importance of ART in your life.

Artists are not capable of “controlling” their work hours. When you are “in the zone” your friends and family accuse you of being preoccupied and/or distant. But, it’s like a switch you can’t turn off. It creeps up on you when you least expect it, and never, ever when you summon it. You need to communicate this to the people in your life that are important to you so they can understand the importance of ART in your life and not take it personally when you are not “present.”

6.  Were entirely ready to allow ART to be an important part of your life, but not your entire life.

You may not always have the luxury to work on your art when you want to. Responsibilities of real life get in the way for most artists. But, you can learn to come up with tricks to ease back into a work schedule, when it is absolutely necessary. For example, working on 3-4 things simultaneously. When you get stuck on one, you can easily move into another. Other artists have described the technique of only leaving the studio for the day only when you know exactly what you next move on a particular painting will be when you comes back…something easy, that has already been planned and you won’t have to think about.

7.  Humbly promise never to ask anyone “What do you think of my work?”

Admit it. If you’re an artist, there is ALWAYS one question on your mind that you are dying to ask people…”what do you think of my work?” There is no doubt, that as an artist, getting feedback is important. If you’ve read my article Art is a Verb, not a Noun, you already know that I don’t believe any object an artist makes can be called ART until it is out in the real world and has real eyeballs looking at it. A painting that is stored in your garage or under your bed isn’t art until it has the experience of being seen. It is only logical then, to assume that once the work is out there, you want to know how people are reacting to it. But, artists need to be extremely careful how and when they submit to that urge of asking people about their work. Before you even contemplate asking the question, let’s take a moment to think about 3 things: Why are you asking this question? Of whom are you asking this question? How will the answer change your relationship to this person and/or your work?

8.  Made a list of all persons affected by your ARTmaking, and be willing to make amends to them.

There is no doubt that artists are wired differently than the rest of us. At times, living with an artist can be difficult. Learning to identify the strategies that will help you move seamlessly in and out of your “normal” life will benefit not only you, but all those around you. Send my article “If you are addicted…” to everyone you love.

9.  Made direct amends to such people, whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

It is true, that to some artists, their work is the most important thing in their life…more important than parents, spouse or even kids. It’s not a crime, or something you should feel guilty about. It is a part of who you are as a person…would you ever feel guilty about having blue eyes? But, remember, the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. If you find this is true for you (and not ALL artists do) you must come to grips with that reality yourself, but never admit it to your significant others.

10.  Continue to take personal inventory and realize you and your ART are not the only important things in the world.

Artists sometimes need to be forced to step outside their reality. Make sure you are able to separate the art making part of your life and the responsibilities of real life. As much as you may hate it, admit that you need a job, relationships, money, housing and the discipline to manage your art career so you can accomplish those things.

11. Sought through private time in your studio to improve your work, and devote the time necessary to just “look.”

The impulse that fuels creativity is nourished by stillness, time alone. That’s why so many artists find their most productive hours are in the wee hours, when everyone else is asleep. The lack of distractions, is a must for artists to be productive. Resting, thinking, meditating, looking…this is when the creative juices are most actively percolating. And, this is one of the most difficult aspects for non artists to understand.

12.  Having accomplished all of the above, tried to carry this message to other artists and those who love them.
Still Learning….

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated June 20th, 2012)

Okay – so I’m really supposed to be working on the certificates of authenticity that will accompany my sculpture to Turpin Gallery in Jackson, WY.

I came across an article stating that these documents are of little to no consequence and that artists should, in fact register with the Fine Art Registry to ensure that works are appropriately catalogued and if you want a certificate of authenticity to go along with your work after that, it can be provided on the site.


Now, I am dreadfully new to the public art world.  The sculpture community in Loveland is a land I sometimes visit, like today to order a box for shipping a sculpture.  Everybody knows EVERYBODY there and what they are doing and where they are from.  They look at me with polite amusement….because I am amusing in my naiveté… I have no doubt.  I have just started walking down the roads they have been travelling for a very long time, after all.

But I digress.  Fine Art Registry, or FAR.

They are all over the place on the internet.  But looking a little deeper I found this from and I think it’s worth republishing on the WWW for the rest of us artists and collectors of art as often as possible:

 THERESA FRANKS: One Woman’s Quest to Control the Art World

by “Michael Wilson”
You’re an artist and you want your portfolio neatly cataloged. What do you do? You call Theresa Franks, that’s what you do. You’re an art collector and you need to protect your valuables from fraud, and establish their provenance and authenticity? No problem. Just call Theresa Franks.
Franks is the founder of Phoenix based,, or “FAR”, an on-line art gallery that offers a patented tagging system which helps artists and collectors organize their inventory and, according to Franks, ensure its authenticity. The site’s trademarked moniker: “Helping Bring Order to the World of Art”.
The website, which operates under Franks’ umbrella company, That’s Life Publishing, Inc., is a vast maze of articles, forums and virtual art galleries which take you deep into the art world, or at least the art world according to Franks.
A large portion of the site is dedicated to its gallery, where sellers and buyers peruse through an assortment of artworks listed for sale. While the site offers mostly contemporary and decorative arts by relatively unknown artists, there’s also works for sale by famous artists such as Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, according to the website, complete with Franks’ patented registry tags and, in some cases, a downloadable certificate of authenticity. Sellers and buyers must first register with FAR in order to correspond with each other. FAR accepts no commission from the sales.
The tagging system has piqued the interest the world over. “We’re an international database,” says Franks. “We just made a deal with the Russians. They didn’t have the technology, so we represent them here.” One major collector I spoke with said he finds the tagging system very interesting. “I would consider using it,” he said. But he cautioned, “only if the company’s integrity is intact.” FAR names several partners including Artletics, a vintage sports artwork dealer; Masterpiece, a company that offers handmade canvases pre-equipped with FAR’s identification tags; Neglia Services, a jewelry replacement and evaluation service; and CLE 123, Inc., a legal education service company that offers on-line courses in Advocacy, Ethics, and Conflict-of-Interest studies. FAR’s articles range in topic from auction results to tips and strategies for collectors. Several content-generated articles are listed from other websites such as, a members-only database of auction results. All make for a dizzying display to whatever suits your artistic fancy. “You can kind of get lost in all the articles,” laughs Franks, who pens most of them herself. In fact, when I called to interview her, she was “madly working” on yet another one.
Aside from being the site’s web administrator, Franks devotes much of her time investigating “art crime” cases, which are featured on her long list of advocacy and investigative-related articles on the FAR site. While Franks pens most of the articles herself, writers have included Noah Charney of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) and John Daab, a fraud examiner. “We work closely with federal law enforcement,” says Franks. “We work to deter fraud.”
One case she’s helping the FBI investigate, says Franks, is that of famed cruise ship auction outfit, Park West Galleries, Inc., based in Michigan. Franks was referring to several class-action lawsuits against the gallery stemming from allegations the company sold fake prints by artist Salvador Dali.
The FAR website has become a cornucopia of information for the Park West case, where numerous articles appear, penned by Franks, as well as a litany of homemade amateur YouTube videos featuring Franks ranting about the company’s alleged misgivings.
The rants have been the subject of ire for Park West, who launched four defamation lawsuits against her; each for $46-Million. They were all dismissed. And despite ongoing litigation with Park West in U.S. District Court in Michigan, she speaks freely, without worry of consequence. “Park West is currently being investigated,” says Franks. But she admitted, “no indictments yet.”
In one video, dated, August 14, 2010, Franks even takes a shot at U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff, for vacating a jury’s verdict that awarded her $500,000 for various copyright infringement counterclaims against Park West. Zatkoff ordered a new trial scheduled for November, 2011. In the video, Franks lambasts Judge Zatkoff for being “biased from the beginning”. She boldly vows to investigate him, suggesting a “special relationship” exists between Judge Zatkoff and Park West Gallery’s lawyer, Rodger Young.
Her sharp tongue has garnered Franks some unwanted attention. During the trial, Franks and her attorneys were admonished for misconduct, and Judge Zatkoff threatened a directed verdict.
Franks also took creative pot shots at the trial, making abstract ink drawings and giving them titles such as “Strangled Justice”, “Jury Deliberation”, and “Wretched”. They are offered for sale on the FAR site, complete with her trademarked tags.
Another target of Franks has been art restorer and forensic expert Peter Paul Biro of Montreal, Canada. Biro discovered fingerprints on a purported Jackson Pollock painting, found at a thrift shop by retired trucker, Ms. Teri Horton. One of the fingerprints matched that of one found on a blue paint can in the Pollock studio in East Hampton, New York. The discovery was chronicled in a 2006 film documentary, “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?”
Then, in a July 12, 2010 article in the New Yorker, reporter David Grann painted Biro as a forger and a criminal. For that, Franks credits herself. “We worked together for about a year on that story,” she said. “I supplied him with a good number of documents. So, he took that and ran with it.” She continues, “It was our (Fine Art Registry’s) investigation that really was the catalyst for that article.”
Grann’s article set off a bit of a media feeding frenzy, and it wasn’t long before other articles appeared, stating Biro was “a forger” and his family had done “jail time”. Biro launched a defamation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against Grann, his employer Conde Nast, and Dan Rattiner. He sought $2-Million from each defendant.
Shortly after the suit was filed, many articles which portrayed Biro badly were retracted. Dan’s Papers published a public apology. Business Insider and the Daily Beast issued corrections. According to U.S. federal court records, Biro and defendant Rattiner have reached a settlement arrangement, the details and amount of which are undisclosed. The New Yorker trial is still pending.
But the target of choice for Franks has been cruise line art auctions, particularly in the Park West case, where the debate isn’t as much about whether the company sold fake Dali prints, but whether the experts used to authenticate or negate the pieces are themselves valid.
In the U.S., no set of regulations exist for the art market. Experts are determined more by consensus than credentials. An individual may have an enormous knowledge base of a particular artist, both historically and mechanically, down to the brush strokes. But, in a buyer-beware environment, unless an expert can garner enough respect and confidence from the art world, he will become useless when it comes to authenticating a work of art, even if he is the only one in the world that can tell the difference between the real thing and a master forgery. This holds especially true for works by Dali, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol, artists for which there exists no authentication boards in the United States.
As for Park West, they utilized the professional services of an accredited art appraiser and Dali expert, Bernard Ewell, of Sante Fe, New Mexico. For years, he examined works which were later sold by Park West during their cruise line auctions. However, a pre-existing power-struggle between Ewell and French Dali expert Robert Descharnes was exploited by Franks, and brought into her “ring of fire” on the FAR website. Franks, for some reason or another, has joined ranks with Descharnes, and appears in videos with him and his son Nicolas Descharnes, referring to the two as “world renowned Dali experts.” Franks says she has spent about $2-Million on litigation costs against Park West.
“It’s the old wild west,” says Franks. “That is why we’re here; to bring order.”
Franks is a human sieve: offering information, speculation and ponderings with the nonchalance of a gossiper, yet the tenacity of a litigator. “There’s a whole sociological element to art crime and art fraud, in why criminals do what they do,” said Franks.
As she spoke, I was drawn into the tangle of her words, and it dawned on me that there’s a place where Franks thrives; a grey area in the art world where, in all its chaos and disorder, there exists a platform to gain a position of power and control, to authenticate strange truths and fashion them into less strange lies, to bolster a false sense of confidence in those that serve you, and destroy those that oppose, and capitalize on it all in a very creative, venomous way.
In all the seemingly wanton, obsessive ranting, – Franks spoke for several minutes at a time between questions – I still found it difficult to put down the phone. But I had to; there were other calls to make. And as a registered member of, who had spent months perusing the site and corresponding with other members, I knew something wasn’t quite right. But to an extent I had never imagined.
I put a call to Bernard Ewell, the Dali expert for Park West and asked him why Franks was after him. “I live in rattlesnake country and I know better than to stir up a viper,” said Ewell. But I pressed him for a motive, pointing out that Franks spent an enormous amount of money on the trials in Michigan. He said he was being attacked by Franks to discredit him as an expert witness in the federal case with Park West. “During the Park West trial, the favored theory was that she is being funded by Robert Descharnes, because he was trying to destroy Park West Gallery, so that his son Nicolas can basically corner and control the whole Dali market,” said Ewell.
As a result of Franks’s accusations and “Google-Bomb” campaign, Ewell says he’s lost up to 70% of his business. “People do a Google search of my name and I never hear from them again,” said Ewell. He described Franks as “an anarchistic bomb thrower; she really doesn’t care what innocent lives are ruined and what indiscriminate damage she causes. She’s like a grizzly bear: you just don’t know what she’s going to do. Like a Japanese zero out of a cloud, she was suddenly there.”
What troubles Ewell most, it seems, is that none of the investigators followed Franks’ money trail to find out where her funding is coming from. “Everyone just sort of shrugged and said, ‘so what can you say, the woman is crazy’. There’s no logic to this. She’s got some things going in her head that she’s convinced herself is true.” Ewell, in his despair and frustration still sports an air of toughness, and also a quick-witted, whimsical sense of humor. “She reminds me of the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland who said, ‘Sometimes before breakfast I can believe in as many as thirteen impossible things.’”
I asked if he had one question for Franks, what it would be. After a long pause, he said, “Has she benefited enough from all the damage she’s done? Because the damage has been massive.” On whether Franks committed libel: “Yes, absolutely,” said Ewell. “Complete lies.”
As for Teri Horton, the owner of the purported Pollock painting that Biro found a fingerprint on, she was very reluctant to speak with me at first, fearing I was a “Theresa Franks shill”. After two requests, she agreed to speak briefly about Franks. She referred to Franks as an “opportunist”, capitalizing on high profile cases such as her painting.
Perhaps a most stunning revelation: Horton disclosed publicly for the first time that it was actually Franks who first contacted Horton several years ago when news broke of the new-found painting. “She wanted to have me put the Pollock painting on her website,” said Horton, “because she and her company, Fine Art Registry, were so well known she could assure me of a sale with top dollar.”
But, Horton, street-smart and deep into her 70’s, wouldn’t take the bait. She said it was with “gut instinct” that she immediately did not trust Franks. “I refused,” said Horton. “Then she went on her rampage and lied.” She described Franks as a “diabolical sociopath” who has caused problems for her entire family. “If I had the money, I would sue her for property disparagement. She’s a crazy, evil woman,” said Horton. If Horton was to sue, she may have to get in line and wait. Maricopa County records show Franks’ legal troubles have been mounting for years. One such case involves an $896,000 loan in which Franks and her husband, Logan Franks, have defaulted. “We couldn’t even find them physically,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Scott L. Potter. “They wouldn’t answer the door.” Potter said the case has “finished out” and the court issued a default judgement against the Franks’ in excess of $680,000. He suggested other claimants are in cue. “Actually, I received a call yesterday from someone looking for Ms. Franks.”
And back to those blue-chip works being offered for sale on Franks’ website: Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele. I wrote an email to a seller, “David Cameron”, who lists numerous works as being “by Jackson Pollock”. Cameron said the works come from a “huge collection”, and are owned by a small group of investors, and that Franks had come to view the paintings prior to listing them for sale on the web.
I contacted the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and told them works were being offered on the FAR website. Alarmed, they referred me to the foundation’s attorney, Ronald D. Spencer. I asked what he thought of the paintings. I could hear him gasp from the other end of the phone as he opened up the email which contained the links to the FAR site. He paused momentarily, then said: “If you were to gather all the Pollock experts in the world, they would all give you the same answer. And it would be an equivocal answer.”
I did in fact contact an expert on Pollock, who wished to remain anonymous. He stated, “It is my opinion that these works are not by the hand of Pollock. They are amateur fakes. Most disturbing is the reference to Clement Greenberg, Peggy Guggenheim and Larry Rivers in the seller’s description. Furthermore, it shall be considered that the entity offering these works, Fine Art Registry, is indeed trafficking in forgeries.”
A seller, “JBPALANK”, (Jason B. Palank), who appears on the FAR site as well as its offshoot,, claims on his profile that he is a “Consultant & Modern Impressionist Specialist” for Christie’s Auction House – New York.  Among the works offered for sale by Palank: a painting “by Paul Klee”, and an original pen and ink drawing “by Pablo Picasso” for $50,000, which he says includes an appraisal by someone “highly recommended” by Christie’s. However, when I called Christie’s, a representative in the modern impressionist department said there’s no consultant or specialist named Jason B. Palank. I pressed her to search the company’s database. “Nothing,” she said. An e-mail to Palank went unanswered. However, a cursory search shows a history of arrests for prescription fraud, DWI, and possession of a controlled substance. He was most recently arrested on August 1, 2010.
Another member, “Breaux05”, was offering an Egon Schiele watercolor. When I contacted the seller, he responded by stating it was not for sale, but would be inclined to sell it if the price was right. We exchanged about five emails. By the third email, I asked if Franks had seen the piece or offered an opinion. He responded by stating Teri Franks is “not an art expert or authenticator!” The seller also copied the email to, the same email address for Teri Franks.
I wrote back saying that I was curious as to her opinion because she’s listed as a “Fine Art Expert” and therefore should be garnered to an opinion, and perhaps responsible for the authenticity of the piece being sold on her website. The seller quickly responded by referring me to his lawyer. The site listing Franks as an art expert is cruise ship watchdog group,
Naturally, I had questions. Why would the seller say Franks is not an expert, and at the same time, copy her on the email? Is it possible that the seller is actually Theresa Franks, and copying herself by accident? That would be too strange, I thought, and would require someone of a duplicitous nature. And although I never did hear back from the seller, I tried yet one more.
I inquired with the  seller, “Artsy”, who lists dozens of works for sale on the FAR site. I received a response from someone who signed off as “Lynn”, and with the email URL suffix as, a website devoted to horse trading.
A closer look into revealed non-other than Franks as the site’s administrator. A chill ran up my spine. “Lynn”, and “Artsy”, as it turned out, are the same individual. All this time, I had been unwittingly communicating with Franks: an “advocate” for transparency, clouded by aliases, in a maze carved by her own hands from the desk of a computer. At that very moment I knew I was dealing with a complex, obsessive and deeply troubled person.
I looked back at the Paul Klee painting offered by Palank, and noticed something familiar about its design. It bore striking resemblances to those ink drawings made by Franks, and their distinct titles: “Forged”, “Criminal Mind”, and “Madness”.
In a field of loops and swirls, I considered something more sinister behind the veil of Theresa Franks, and I remembered her own words about “why criminals do what they do.” I made one more call to Bernard Ewell and asked him again why Theresa Franks does what she does.
He said, “I don’t know enough about psychological disorders.”
*Since publication of this article, FAR has altered the profile for Jason Palank.
**Since publication of this article, an art crime specialist has contacted me and offered to discuss the Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry case with law enforcement.
***Due to the overwhelming response to this article, I believe it merits the inclusion of the following public information on Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry.
****Since publication of this article, a US daily newspaper has contacted me and expressed interest in writing a follow-up article. Stay tuned!

(this post is a reprint of a post from my blog dated May 10th 2012)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the world of art and marketing…commercialism and the like.   Many artists struggle and struggle financially and there is an overwhelming (it sometimes seems) perception that artists do not make money until they are dead….if then.  The argument I heard many years ago that influenced me decide to change from being an art major in college to a business major instead…and eventually, a psychology major – maybe to help me figure out me, more that anything.  But I digress.

I think that there is an exclusivity that the purveyors of art promote that is harmful to both artists and the public alike….harmful to them as well, for in promoting exclusivity in the art world, or to put it more simply…intimidating the majority of the people in the world – people who are not necessarily educated about “what art is and is not” – you have limited your market to far fewer people.  How many people are too intimidated by their perceived lack of knowledge about art to even walk into an art gallery?  There is so much fun made of what people say about art in galleries and museums (you can find many stories on the web) that I am self-conscious about saying anything about a work of art within earshot of gallery and museum employees and owners if the atmosphere of the place feels in any way “exclusive”.  The thing is, art is subjective.  If I look at a Jackson Pollock painting and think it’s just silly…to me – that is my right.  Right?

I am not a Thomas Kinkaid fan – but I won’t read a romance novel either.  They just don’t engage me.  But lots of people are crazy about both.  That’s GREAT!   Andy Warhol, on the other hand.  I have always liked Andy Warhol’s art.  Both of these artists were really good promoters of their own work, Andy Warhol was a promotional genius, I think.  I came across a really good article about him, if anyone reading this cares to read on.  I put pictures of some ot the art that it refers to along the way…


From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, November/December 2011

Sara Friedlander, the 27-year-old head of First Open Sale at Christie’s in New York, has a startling view of American art history. “Nothing good was made in the 19th century, nothing really good was made in the 18th century and American art in the 20th century for the first three, four or five decades was very elitist.”

There was, in this view, no American Titian or Picasso, Raphael or Matisse. And then, suddenly, on July 9th 1962, there was. That was the date of the first solo show by Andy Warhol, the 33-year-old son of Slovakian immigrants. It was at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles and it consisted of a series of 32 paintings of Campbell’s Soup Cans, one for each flavour—beef, clam chowder, cheddar cheese, etc. The response was underwhelming. Five sold for $100 each, but the gallery owner bought them back to keep the series intact.

Andy Warhol Tomato Soup can

Nevertheless, by the end of that year, Warhol had conquered New York, the capital of the art world, and America had the artist for which she had been waiting. “He reached a public”, says Friedlander, “that no artist was able to do before him. Because he was able to accomplish what nobody else had done and in the way he was able to influence what came after him, I think that makes him, I would guess, the greatest artist of the 20th century.”

There is nothing unorthodox about this claim. Almost unanimously, today’s young art fans adore Andy as earlier generations adored Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollock. “To the under-45s”, says Georgina Adam of the Art Newspaper, “Warhol is what Picasso used to be to an older generation…and, like Picasso, he has become a man for all seasons.”

This vast fan base has been reinforced by the shrewd licensing arrangements negotiated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, established under the terms of the artist’s will. There have been Warhol skateboards, Warhol editions of Dom Pérignon champagne and countless Warhol fashion lines, including Pepe jeans and Diane von Furstenberg dresses. But, in a wider sense, Warhol’s colours and styles—especially his use of pop style—pervade the culture. Any city street shows evidence of the astonishing power and durability of his imagery.

The market backs the enthusiasm of the young. Those original soup cans are not for sale: bought by the Los Angeles dealer for $1,000, they were sold to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1996 for $15m, a deal that promoted Warhol to art’s first division. In 2008 a 12-foot-wide Warhol painting entitled “Eight Elvises”, made in 1963, broke the $100m barrier, putting him in the same lofty bracket as Picasso, Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Gustav Klimt. The highest auction price, meanwhile, is $71.7m for “Green Car Crash” (1963). To put these dizzying prices in perspective, Titian recently achieved his highest ever auction price—$16.9m for “A Sacra Conversazione” from about 1560. This is an important picture by an artist many regard as the greatest painter that ever lived. But the market says that Warhol is more than five times better.

Warhol is now the god of contemporary art. He is indeed, it is said, the “American Picasso” or, if you prefer, the art market’s one-man Dow Jones. In 2010 his work sold for a total of $313m and accounted for 17% of all contemporary auction sales. This was a 229% increase on the previous year—nothing bounced out of recession quite like a Warhol. But perhaps the most significant figure is the rise in his average auction prices between 1985 and the end of 2010: 3,400%. The contemporary-art market as a whole rose by about half that, the Dow by about a fifth. “Warhol is the backbone of any auction of post-war contemporary art,” says Christopher Gaillard, president of the art consultants Gurr Johns. “He is the great moneymaker.”

Some glee in the market is understandable—and not just because of the money. Warhol believed in fame and wealth: they were intrinsic to his aesthetic. The auctioneers are co-creators, carrying on Warhol’s work post mortem, and the salerooms are extensions of the galleries. “How he would love it all!” says Sara Friedlander of the current frenzy. “I can see him at an auction, seated at front and centre with his Polaroid camera and his fright wig…I think of him in every sale we do.”

Before Warhol, the believers argue, there was sterility; after Warhol there is a ravishing, visual cornucopia. Without him, they say, there would be no Jeff Koons, Jeff-KoonsRichard Prince - Nurse Paintingsno Richard Prince, no Banksy, no Takashi Murakami, no Damien Hirst. Many of the fashionable artists in the world emerged from beneath Andy’s fright wig.

There would also be no fun without Andy. The starting point for any assessment of his legacy is his instant accessibility: nobody need ever be puzzled by a Warhol—his lavish colours, his epic simplicity, above all his subject matter. “Andy always painted famous things,” says the artist Michael Craig-Martin, “whether it was Liz Taylor or a Coke can.”

“Even children love him,” says Gul Coskun, a specialist Warhol dealer in London. “They stop their parents outside my shop. His pictures are big, colourful, they are not taxing academically. But they are taxing financially now.”

All of which raises the question: is this a bubble—critical and financial—that will soon burst? In market terms, it seems likely if only because the rise in values has been so extreme. But the problem is that the market conceals more than it reveals. There are, it is said, 10,000 individual works—the exact number will only become clear when the vast catalogue raisonné is completed by the Warhol Foundation. They have just started work on Volume Four of this mighty project, but there is no current indication of when it will be finished.murakami-c-new-yorker-magazine

About 200 Warhols come on the market each year. A large percentage are always bought by José Mugrabi, a New York-based dealer-collector who turns up at auctions in jeans, black T-shirt and baseball cap. Mugrabi made his money in textiles in Colombia. He moved to New York in 1982 and began collecting art. He likes to be seen to be buying and he is now believed to own 800 Warhols, some of them first-rank. Last year he is said to have bought more than 40% of the Warhols that came on the market. This scale of participation distorts the market and entails a risk of a swift collapse if Mugrabi were to withdraw. “The question is,” says Noah Horowitz, author of “Art of the Deal: Contemporary Damien Hirst portraitArt in a Global Financial Market”, “what value would those works sustain if and when the market sees some sort of correction?”

Probably only the Andy Warhol Foundation, which also oversees authentication and commercial exploitation of the works, has more Warhols than Mugrabi. The gallery-owner Larry Gagosian has a few too: in 2008 he spent around $200m on 15 to 20 Warhols from the collection of Ileana Sonnabend, an early fan. It would not be quite true to say that Mugrabi, Gagosian and the foundation control the market, but nobody doubts their combined ability to push up prices by sheer brute force. And the prices are further bolstered by museum demand. Few museums with aspirations to represent contemporary art want to be without one of Warhol’s pictures. But this demand is subject to critical fashion. It is safe, therefore, to assume the prices are higher than a strictly open market would allow.

On top of that, the foundation always has the last word on what is and is not a Warhol—which can be tricky given that the work in question may be no more than a Brillo-pad box. Its authentications have not always been accepted. Joe Simon, an American film producer, has been fighting a long war with the foundation over the authenticity of a self-portrait he bought for $195,000 in 1989 (for a full account, go to Later, wanting to sell, he submitted it to the foundation, which pronounced it inauthentic, stamping it “denied”. A further resubmission resulted in another stamp—he had, in the jargon of the trade, been “double-denied”. The two marks, Simon feels, have ruined the painting. He now plans to sue the foundation. “This is not just my fight,” he says, “it’s a fight for the integrity of Andy Warhol’s work.”

“The problem is”, says Georgina Adam, “that the foundation wants Andy Warhol to be a high artist with high ideals, they want him to be like Leonardo da Vinci. They don’t want to think that he just signed a lot of stuff without even looking at it, but he did.”

If the works aren’t always what they seem, neither are the auctions. “These sales are no longer auctions,” says Allan Schwartzman, an art adviser. “To attract material at the top end, auction houses pre-sell the material to ‘irrevocable bidders’. They are deliberate, orchestrated events.” Irrevocable bids are guaranteed, pre-saleroom offers that ensure a work does not go unsold. But they also ensure that the price at auction may not strictly be a transparent meeting point between supply and demand; at times the auctions are little more than a theatre of private deals. Such arrangements are commonplace throughout the market, but they are especially important in the case of Warhol because of his absolute ascendancy and because of a market that is active while still being surprisingly narrow.

Christopher Gaillard does not think this is a problem. “Warhol is a global commodity now. His work is certainly supported by some key players we read about in the papers, but it’s my belief that this is much more far-reaching than that. Warhol is the most powerful contemporary-art brand that exists. Picasso is another. It’s about sheer, instant recognition and what comes along with it is a sense of wealth, glamour and power.”

Whatever the hidden truth of the market, Warhol’s ascendancy is out there in plain sight. And it is a perennial truth of the art business that high values tend to attract critical endorsement. “If you look at art history and criticism,” says Julian Stallabrass of the Courtauld Institute in London, “a lot of it is promotional literature.”

It is almost inevitable, therefore, that Warhol should be critically as well as commercially acclaimed. But the question is: does he deserve it? The answer begins with a pair of shoes.

In 1886 Vincent van Gogh painted a pair of very worn boots. It was a small painting—18 inches by 15—but a powerful one. It remains one of van Gogh’s most familiar images. It is also one of the most densely discussed. Both the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the theorist and critic Frederic Jameson have pondered these boots. What they both conclude is that, in Jameson’s words, “the work in its inert, objectal form is taken as a clue or symptom for some vaster reality which replaces it as its ultimate truth.”

The painting is not simply an arrangement of pigments, nor even, primarily, a representation of something. It is, rather, a statement about a world that lies beyond the painting—the hard life and work of the peasant who wore these boots. It is a portrait of the man and his life painted in his absence. The painting is a window through which we see not just these boots but their place in a world of toil and struggle.

That, in fact, is exactly how people usually look at art, as a physical embodiment of wider meanings. What other reason is there to look at all? But Jameson goes on to compare van Gogh’s boots with a Warhol print from 1980-81, “Diamond Dust Shoes”. Andy-Warhol-Diamond-Dust-ShoesThis work, says Jameson, “evidently no longer speaks to us with any of the immediacy of van Gogh’s footgear; indeed, I am tempted to say that it does not really speak to us at all. Nothing in this painting organises even a minimal place for the viewer, who confronts it at the turning of a museum corridor or gallery with all the contingency of some inexplicable natural object.”

That, in a nutshell, is the entire history of Warhol criticism. It all pivots on the meaning of the word “meaning” when applied to the visual arts. Warhol, a far more intelligent man than he liked to appear, understood this perfectly. “The more you look at the same exact thing,” he said in 1975, “the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel.” He also said: “Always leave them wanting less.” He was in pursuit of an art that meant nothing.

The context in which his anti-definition of “meaning” appeared was that of a culturally triumphant post-war America. New York had usurped Paris as the capital of the art world and had given birth to its own art movement to rival those of the old Europe. Abstract expressionism (“AbEx”) was widely seen as a statement that the United States need no longer suffer from any kind of cultural cringe. It has even been argued—though, in detail, also disputed—that these artists were financed and promoted by the CIA as ambassadors of freedom.

AbEx was a highly romantic version of modernism. It was a heroic confrontation between the artist and the canvas. The result, in the words of the critic Harold Rosenberg, was “not a picture but an event”. Jackson Pollock laid his canvases on the floor and dripped paint on them. Jackson_Pollock_GalaxyMark Rothko’s shimmering veils of paint yearned romantically for the beyond.

Morris Louis Number 4-26

Morris Louis and Barnett Newman barely disturbed the blankness with their marks. Willem de Kooning embraced chaos as he stabbed at his just-about-figurative images. These were existential heroes of Bohemia, not of the saleroom; their quest was limitless, spiritual and meditative.Barnett Newman - Yellow Painting

The AbExes found their voice in Clement Greenberg. An incisive, highly intellectual critic, he explained the artists to themselves and the world. Primarily, he told them that a painting was not a window on the world; it was a world, a wholly distinct, two-dimensional event. The viewer and the artist both engaged with paint and canvas, not with some external realm, like the life of the peasant that lay beyond van Gogh’s boots. Painters were not even required to engage with three-dimensional space, such was the primal truth of the canvas.

Meaning in abstract expressionism lay in the heroic act of the artist. In Rothko it lay in a form of spiritual contemplation; dekooning-portrait in Pollock it emerged from the carefully contained workings of chance. The personality of the artist was crucial. The paintings were windows that looked inwards to psychology rather than out to the world. They were hermetic, recognisable only as elevated forms of introspection. As Sara Friedlander puts it, they were “only interested in themselves”.

AbEx was the orthodoxy of the 1950s, but it was a paradoxical posture, curiously opposed to the spirit of the age. The post-war boom was getting under way and new machines and goods were raining down on consumers. The world was entering the image-soaked future foreseen and described by Marshall McLuhan. And yet this was precisely what these world-conquering artists were not painting.

Warhol was as soaked in images as anybody. Through the 1950s he was a successful commercial artist, known, among other things, for his advertisements showing highly distinctive blotty ink drawings of shoes. But he was also a devoted gallery-goer, determined to break into the citadel of high art. In fact, though he is often talked about as the godfather of pop art, he was beaten into the citadel by several other aspirants, notably Roy Lichtenstein who, from 1961, produced his giant blow-ups of comic book images. Desperate, Warhol turned to Muriel Latow, an adventurous gallery owner. According to Tony Scherman and David Dalton in their book “Pop: The Genius of Andy Warhol”, he said to her, “Just tell me what to paint.”

In return for a $50 cheque, she told him “to think of the most common, everyday, instantly recognisable thing he could”. He thought of his doting mother, Julia Warhola. Warhol had been, according to the philosopher and critic Gary Indiana, her “tantrum-prone, acne-riddled, albino lion cub”, a difficult and sick child to whom she gave maximum attention. He was spoilt—the family’s “moody, tyrannical centre-piece” who “shaped weaknesses into weapons for rejecting anyone he didn’t like and avoiding anything he didn’t want to do”. Julia lived in the basement of the Manhattan town house he had bought with his money from his advertising commissions. She used to give him soup for lunch—Campbell’s soup.

The cans he exhibited in Los Angeles emerged both from his mother’s menu and from a love of the colourful world of consumption. So they were not quite as impersonal as is often claimed. “Warhol’s approach to pop culture”, Scherman and Dalton argue, “was far from purely aesthetic: from childhood on, he loved its products and worshipped its heroes and heroines.”

But his psychology played no part in their reception: they were seen as works devoid of introspection, shocking statements of the obvious. Whereas innocent viewers could stand in front of a Pollock and get no answer to the question “What is it?”, they would get an immediate answer standing in front of a Warhol. “It’s a soup can.”

“It seems”, wrote the artist Donald Judd of a 1963 Warhol exhibition, “that the salient metaphysical question lately is ‘Why does Andy Warhol paint Campbell Soup cans?’ The only available answer is ‘Why not?’ ”

The 1962 Los Angeles show was followed, a few months later, by New York exhibitions which featured the massive “Marilyn Diptych”—50 versions of a photo of Marilyn Monroe, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Dollar Bills and, even more momentously, a pile of Brillo boxes.

Arthur Danto was a professor of philosophy at Columbia at the time. Interested in contemporary art, he visited the Stables gallery and saw the boxes. “I was working on a five-volume work on analytical philosophy,” he tells me, “my head was full of Descartes and Russell and all the other tough thinkers and, when I walked into the Stables, I suddenly thought that art has finally caught up with philosophy and Andy did it. I was stunned and I changed the whole direction of my work. This was a completely new way of thinking about art.”

Danto—who is now the grandest pillar in the edifice of Warhol appreciation—was preoccupied with how we evaluate our perceptions. From Descartes he inherited the mystery of how we could tell the difference between waking and sleeping consciousness. How did we know which was more real? Warhol’s boxes asked the same question by replacing “real” with “art”. How did we know which was more “art”, a van Gogh or a Brillo box? “Andy showed that art and non-art cannot be told apart just by looking at them.”

Marcel Duchamp had done this decades earlier, in 1917, by taking a urinal, signing it, exhibiting it and calling it “Fountain”. But there was still something timeless—and, therefore, arty—about a urinal. Warhol hardened the theme by choosing something that was utterly contemporary and ephemeral. The following year he made the movie “Sleep”, showing a man sleeping for five hours and 20 minutes. He had also, by then, founded the Factory, the defiantly named Manhattan location that became his headquarters, production line and studio. Its flamboyant radicalism made him a hero of the young, often with catastrophic consequences.

“I had a couple of students, actually my best students,” Danto says. “They decided to go down to the Factory and they were ruined, completely ruined, as thinkers. They got druggy. I had imagined they would be serious philosophers but that never happened.”

The defiance of the name lay in the idea that art could be produced in a factory, like any other consumer good. Warhol’s art was not supposed to be a matter of emotion, introspection or spiritual quest; it was to be an image, pure and simple. “During the 1960s,” he wrote knowingly in 1975, “I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered.”

This pursuit of affectlessness was what outraged—and still outrages—some critics and artists. According to Gary Indiana, de Kooning screamed “You destroyed art!” in Warhol’s face.

In a crucial passage in his book “American Visions” (1998), the great critic Robert Hughes summarised Warhol’s aesthetic: “It all flowed from one central insight: that in a culture glutted with information, where most people experience most things at second or third hand through TV and print, through images that become banal and disassociated by being repeated again and again and again, there is a role for affectless art. You no longer need to be hot and full of feeling. You can be supercool, like a slightly frosted mirror…Warhol…was a conduit for a sort of collective American state of mind in which celebrity—the famous image of a person, the famous brand name—had completely replaced both sacredness and solidity.”

Clement Greenberg, meanwhile, realising that Warhol had flung a pot of vinyl paint in the face of the AbExes, was dismissive. “I find his art sappy. The big-screen portraits and all these things. Who cares about them?” He knew the critical basis of his entire career was being assaulted by pop.

“The whole of pop art”, explains Stallabrass, “was a reply to Greenberg.” Greenberg was defending art as a specific category, something set aside from the ordinary world. But, as Danto saw, Warhol created art that was an arbitrary aspect of the ordinary. There was no special category, girded by a language of depth and meaning; there was just what was defined as art at any given time. Being famous and making money was as legitimate a goal for the artist as self-exploration.

Ever since, the central theme of anti-Warhol sentiment is that he sold out, not just himself but the whole idea of art. The philosopher Roger Scruton argues that he had nothing to say: it really was all about money. “It is worth pointing out that there is neither beauty, nor elegance nor style in anything that Warhol did, and that the very media he chose were reflections of the moral emptiness within him. But since the result (like the silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe) convey that emptiness, there is nothing in them to understand; in no way do they present a challenge to the observer, other than the challenge to his chequebook. And if you are extremely rich, extremely stupid and morally vacant, why not write a cheque to prove it?”

The pro-Warhol response to that is that it misses the point. The chequebook is the aesthetic. “I think the argument one could well make”, says Noah Horowitz, “is that in some sense his whole thing, his MO, his method of production was totally tied into that [the market], and it’s one thing to analyse and criticise and do something aesthetic with that structure but Warhol embraced it and made it his aesthetic.”

So either Warhol was an empty product of money or he made art out of money. Take your pick.

Valerie Solanas was a radical feminist who believed in the violent creation of an all-female society. In 1967 she asked Warhol to produce her play “Up Your Ass”, but he lost the script and Solanas started demanding payment. Finally, in June 1968, she turned up at the Factory and shot him in the chest. It was a grievous wound—Warhol had to wear a corset for the rest of his life to, as he put it, “keep my insides in”—and he only just survived.Valerie Solanas S.C.U.M. manifesto

Solanas was imprisoned, though only until 1971, and she died in 1988. But she was not forgotten. In 1996 a film of her life—Mary Harron’s “I Shot Andy Warhol—appeared and some feminists still claim her as a hero of the cause. But she is also remembered as a key player in the history of contemporary art. The shooting was a creative as well as a medical turning point for Warhol. The experience seemed to intensify his own sense that his life was not quite real. “Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life…Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.”

Most now agree—even in the midst of the current frenzy—Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1986that the shooting marked the start of a steady decline in the quality of Warhol’s work. Nothing more vividly demonstrates this decline than two self-portraits, nearly 20 years apart, currently on display at Tate Modern in London. The picture from 1986, the year before his death, shows the now gaunt features in red, topped by his fright wig. It is striking and beautifully composed, but it is a poster, a one-liner. The picture from 1967 is haunting, powerful, with layers of vibrant colour that demand close examination.Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1967

When the average cultivated punter now thinks ofa Warhol, they will almost certainly be thinking of a Marilyn Monroe, a Jackie Kennedy, an Elvis Presley, a soup can or even an electric chair made between 1962 and 1968. What they will not be thinking about is the ten portraits from 1980 entitled “Jewish Geniuses”

or his endless pursuit of the rich, famous and powerful as patrons and subjects—Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, John Lennon, Diana Ross, the Shah of Iran. One thing nobody can really claim Warhol has in common with Picasso is lifelong inspiration and creativity. After the shooting he slowly ground to an aesthetic halt.

But perhaps it can be said that Warhol’s legacy is more wide-ranging than Picasso’s. Arthur Danto’s conviction is that he changed everything he touched, that his influence is universal. “Even Picasso was a more limited kind of figure, a great artist for sure, but he was an inventor of styles. I think what Andy was was an inventor of no styles at all.”

Warhol’s posture of opposition to meaning and the idea of the specialness of art was constantly being extended. In movies he subverted all artifice, not just by showing a man sleeping, but, later, by filming random scenes of anti-acting by his cast of “superstars”. In “A Novel” (1968) he took apart fiction by using straight transcriptions of the conversational ramblings of his friends. And, by adopting the Velvet Underground, he created the most savagely nihilistic rock band of them all. He even took on the philosophers—“The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)” (1975) consists of transcriptions of his spoken thoughts. But, though such things undoubtedly leave traces in the culture, they are dead ends in ways in which his best paintings were not. Nobody needs to do a mindlessly transcribed novel again or even read one, but many need to plunder the genuine riches of the pre-shooting Warhols.

Finally, Julian Stallabrass makes a crucial point about Warhol’s current stature. “You know this work really engages people in the art world. Maybe what has really changed in the last few years is that people have been finding out, essentially through publishing their own works on social networking sites, that making things that look a bit like art isn’t at all hard and that is very demystifying and empowering.”

Warhol now endorses a way of life. One simple technology—silk-screen printing—dominated his career. But it was enough to show today’s technology-laden, hyper-connected youth that they could do it too. With the instant publication of digital pictures and videos, anybody can become a cyber-Warhol, swimming in the great ocean that pop imagery has become. Apple’s Photo Booth software reduces the whole thing to a single click—just by selecting “pop art” under “effects” you can change your face into a very credible Warhol multiple self-portrait. Andy, in death, is a generation’s mentor.Andy Warhol Jewish Geniuses exhibition

The Andy Warhol Foundation and the market may want him to be Leonardo or Picasso, but the young want him to be what Arthur Danto says he is, the overthrower of all such pretensions. It is in this balance of aspirations that Warhol, the god of contemporary art, now exists. In time this phase will pass and the idea that Warhol is a greater artist than, say, Robert Rauschenberg or Jackson Pollock will be seen as the absurdity that it is. The bubble will burst, prices will fall and the drinker of all that Campbell’s soup will be restored to his rightful place—as a briefly brilliant and very poignant recorder of the dazzling surface of where we are now.

The intellectual excitement of his attempt to destroy meaning is also close to its sell-by date. Prompted by Warhol, conceptualism—art driven by ideas rather than sensuous and emotional engagement—has ruled the art world for more than 20 years. It is a machine aesthetic, a desire to make art that is beyond human, and Andy always wanted to be a machine. But, though all art is in constant, self-questioning flux, one thing never changes—the longing to define, synthesise and express the human condition. In the absence of religion, it is art’s job to do this. For six years, despite his claims to the contrary, Warhol was an artist, a generator of meanings. Valerie Solanas and his own social ambitions put an end to this. Now it is time for us, and the market, to adjust to the fact that it is over.

Bryan Appleyard is an award-winning feature writer for the Sunday Times. His latest book, “The Brain is Wider than the Sky”, is out now.

Leap Day!

(this is a reprint of a post written on my blog dated February 29th, 2012)

Hey!  It’s the 29th of February – Leap day – a bonus day in 2012.  I have a newsletter to write today (although I’m waiting on photos and won’t post it until tomorrow) and no time to do both. (Sorry)  But did find an interesting article for my artist friends out there who are selling their own creations.  TAX info about a new form.  This is a reprint from another blog I saw it on, and they reprinted it from somewhere else.  Check it out!  Very good information.

Clearing Up Confusion On Tax Form 1099-K

This guest post is brought to you by, the easiest way to manage your business finances online.

In an earlier post, we briefly covered the brand new tax form 1099-K. Basically, we told you that it exists, and could be a headache for ecommerce sellers around the world.

But the more we cover the 1099-K, we notice we still get a ton of comments and emails from Outright users who have just heard of it.  Furthermore, they seem really confused about what precisely is on the thing and how to use the information on the 1099-K when filing their taxes!

So, we’re back to settle the score with the 1099-K. Hopefully after reading this post you’ll have a better understanding of this mysterious document and whether it will really affect your business.

What Exactly is Reported on the 1099-K?

The purpose of 1099-K is simply to report to the government income earned by U.S. Citizens via electronic means (i.e. PayPal, Amazon, eBay, credit cards, etc.).  But, income is literally all that it tracks.

If you’re wondering if the form tracks business expenses – it doesn’t. Or PayPal fees – nope, none of those. What about refunds and returns? Uh-uh. The figure found on your 1099-K simply reports how much in income you made through PayPal (or whatever electronic payment processor issued you the form).

Because of this, the amount reported on your 1099-K might seem a little higher than you expected. But that’s okay. If you have kept track of all of your business expenses – fees, refunds, cost of goods sold, office supplies, advertising, etc. – then you won’t be hit with a huge tax bill. Just remember that it’s your job to show the government your expenses when filing your taxes.

Where do I Report the Amount from my 1099-K when doing My Taxes?

Another source of confusion is where to enter the figure found on the 1099-K into your taxes.  For self-employed people and LLC’s, there is a specific form, the Schedule C, that’s used to report to the IRS. But the wording on this year’s Schedule C has some people thrown off.

You do indeed use Schedule C for entering the information. And this year, there’s a dedicated line for the 1099-K…line 1a. But wait! The instructions next to it say to enter “0” for 2011 no matter what. So what gives, pal?

The reasons are mysterious, and may serve just to get people ready for the 1099-K’s prolonged existence. But whatever the case, go ahead and mark down that “0” on line 1a. The line you want this year is line 1d, which lets you give total gross receipts for stuff like credit card transactions. But one caution: the IRS still receives your 1099-K this year. If the 1099-K shows you made $50,000 while you report a mere $20,000 in income, you are going to hear from the IRS with some very pointed questions. Once again, that’s why it’s so important to include ALL of your income on Schedule C line 1d but to then track your expenses.

That’s really about it! But one more time, make sure you remember to track and record your own business expenses and deductions, as again the 1099-K doesn’t take ANY of that into account. But hopefully the mystery has been taken out of the process and you can put your taxes behind you soon and concentrate on selling once again.

If you have any more questions or concerns, head over to our Tax Resource Center!

Worried about that Schedule C? Create a free account today and make tax time less taxing!

Posted by: Outright, Inc.
What are you?

(this is a reprint of a post made on my blog dated February 22, 2012)


Back when I was first in college, my chosen major was art.  I was excited about it.  The year before, I had “fallen in love” and was still with that same boy – whose opinion of art majors was that “it isn’t practical”.  I wasn’t sure what “practical” had to do with it.  “The only artists who ever made any money did after they were dead” was his declaration.

Being a person who is visual to a very high level, I tend to be moronic about verbal cues thrown at me.  I am very literal about words, they mean what they mean, no more no less.  It is something that can make me incredibly gullible (especially if I only hear or read words and cannot see someone’s face while they’re talking for clues) and at times I can seem to have no sense of humor.  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Don’t know.  Did someone let it out of the coop?  But I digress.  If I’m an art major I will die impoverished.

Faced with “the declaration” – I now doubted my choice; perhaps my chosen major wasn’t wise.  The end of the story is – I changed my major after that five times during college – ending my college career with a BA in Psychology.  And all that studying about how to understand the human condition didn’t help me understand why the drive to create never went away, no matter how hard I tried to suppress it.  And that great “practical” college degree never helped me earn more than an average hourly wage of about $12 an hour…at a succession of unfulfilling jobs working for other people.

I know.  Being an artist will not help me “make a living” any more than my eye color will.  I have to have supplemental learning, luck, acclaim, popularity, skill, the support of others and the universe all – all, for that to happen.  At this time in my life I don’t have to “do” one thing to make money so that I can be myself, and “do” sculpting.  I am lucky enough to be married to someone who loves me and encourages me endlessly and is happy to work and keep our finances on track – all so that I can be who and what I am.  I am lucky and blessed, and thankful.  Many of us are not so lucky or blessed, but we still work at our creative endeavors because we can’t help it.

Isn’t that a powerful thing to know?  We cannot help that this is what we are.  It is simply a state of be-ing that cannot be chosen because it chooses the person where it will reside.  And then in our lives we are whispered to, or sometimes shouted at, by the drive to create, bored of anything else if it isn’t somehow creative.  Back when my major was chosen, I didn’t know this.  That this is what I am – just as much as that color is the color of my eyes.  And neither can any other creative person help it, suppress it, or ignore it.  I didn’t know that being an artist is not a career choice or an endeavor that one chooses as a way to earn money.  Our goals and our drive may be success and making money too.  But at the heart of that wish to be famous or wealthy is really the desire for vindication in society (where very often others choose to see us as odd or foolish), that we are OF VALUE.

And just look at what we “do”!  Some of us write, or make music, or dance.  We are painters, or glass blowers, we throw pottery, or weave, take photographs or, like me, sculpt.  People who do not have this in their DNA or have it only somewhat do not understand “it” to be “normal”.  What if not having it isn’t “normal”?  We are every bit as important to society’s health and happiness and advancement as people who chose more traditional money making careers, in many instances – it could be argued – more so.  So why the bias?  I don’t know the answer to that.

But next time someone asks me “what do you do?”  – I’m going to say “sculpture”.  And if they say then, “Oh, you’re an artist…hmmm?” than I may very likely say, “Well, yes.  Who and what are you?”