March Meanderings

“A free spirit takes liberties even with liberty itself.”  – Francis Picabia

The end of February came with a blast of art appreciation.  A trip to the MOMA on Saturday, at the tail-end of February, could not have been more exciting with the exhibit of Francis Picabia’s works of art. Did you know he had so many stages and talents that spanned his long lifetime that there was something to please everyone’s tastes. His early work included Impressionistic  paintings of landscapes and people, and incorporated a flirtation with Pointillism., and there was a  period of using photographs to create commercial-like art.  Gifted and multi-dimensional, he wasn’t bound by one style or trend.  Picabia was a poet,and filmmaker, (including filming up through the floor of a ballet), doing experimental things with it. Visionary, he may have been ahead of his timewith special effects. “He was a creative genius!,” I exclaimed as I left the last of several galleries of his work. Some of his drawings reminded my friend of my doodles. I was pleased we were on the same wavelength, but born 1879, he died 1953, before I was born. He lived his life primarily in France and traveled often, and died in Paris.  He did not have to worry about money, unlike most of his fellow painters.  I bought the book at a hefty price, which felt like it weighed 10 lbs. My arm ached. I could not carry it home and needed my friend’s help. Although, not recommended in art shows and galleries, this work is already in the public domain. I was permitted to take photos and will include some here for you to see what I saw and I urge you to get to the Museum of Modern Art before the exhibit closes. There’s noting like seeing the actual paintings vs. photos of them.

Early Picabia, demonstrated mastery

Karen Kirshner with Picabia’s “Wandering Jew” at MOMA
Fantastic abstracts, I was at home with them at the MOMA
Picabia was certainly prolific and had a broad spectrum of styles, spanning his long life. Not afraid to explore anew.
One of my favorites by Picabia, at MOMA. It’s HUGE.





















We dined at MOMA’s pricey restaurant with a gourmet meal, for dessert I had the “flourless chocolate cake,” which should have been renamed, “Heaven’s Gate,” as it was out of this world. The waiter recommended it to me and I shrugged off Jenny Craig’s voice of conscience and went for it. It was worth every calorie!

Art History Lecture by Professor Thomas Germano, at the Peninsula Library 

Following this treat was an in-depth lecture about the greatest English Artist, 18th Century, William Hogarth. He was an engraver, painter pictorial satirist, social moralist, printer (reminded me of Ben Franklin). He was a self-made man, with series of stories in illustrations with moral lessons. For example, one series was  about a woman who came to London to work and wound up a prostitute with syphilis and in jail;  a young nobleman who married someone with wealth and no title , then squandered her money and married another much older, to get out of debt, and then he repeated bankruptcy, because of gambling and prostitutes. He wound up in an insane asylum with syphilis His two wives were there with him. These were tales to prevent the same.  There were prints on good paper and prints on cheap paper, so the man was a marketing wizard. His masterful drawings of life events transpiring had mass appeal and he became famous and wealthy, having been the son of a poor Latin teacher who wound up in debtors’ prison because he invested foolishly in a Latin tea house that didn’t have mass appeal.  The portraits painted by Hogarth were as great as any of the later American portraitists. I enjoyed the lecture, after reluctance to attend. The English artists, I thought, were not interesting. I was pleasantly surprised and engaged in the tales attached to the series or Hogarth’s work. He struck me as a man ahead of his time in using printing and visual media to communicate and sell his messages and art with massive appeal.  If he had remained an engraver or a portraitist relying on sporadic commissions, I believe he would not have earned his crown in art history.

The Painter and his Pug 1745 William Hogarth 1697-1764 Purchased 1824
William Hogarth’s self-portrait in wig
The Artist’s burial place is a monument.









Art Enthusiasts:

Please don’t forget to come to the ABSTRACTIONS reception at the Farmingdale Public Library, Saturday, March 4 at 2-4 PM. There will be refreshments. The exhibition lasts until the end of March 2017.                                                                                                    March 4, Post-Reception News:  Even though I show little here, there are three wall of paintings, thirteen new and recent paintings on exhibit.The event was a success.  Some people I expected couldn’t make it there, but people I never expected came, and at least a dozen interesting young people I never met had suddenly appeared to see the art. When I spoke to some of them, they were perceptive and positively loved the colors I used. Young people always favor my work. I think that’s a good thing, because they are the generation succeeding me.  I had been afraid no one would show up because I have realized  Saturday afternoon is the worst time to hold a reception. Sunday is best. Next time! It is a continuous exhibit for March.








It was extremely cold on Abstractions day.









…I  am now a member of Guild Hall, East Hampton, and LI Museum (as artist), thanks to advise by another artist. I think it’s wonderful when artists help each other with information and wise advice, which they do often.That  includes attending other artists’ opening receptions and exhibitions. It can be exhausting. About artists, I believe our mission is to brighten an otherwise drab world and to bring beauty to every corner of the universe. It’s a form of healing the world.There is a duality in it, because it may be mutually beneficial — The process of creation is healing catharsis, as is the effect of the beauty of colors and imagery, for those who see  and appreciate it.

Monday, March 6, I attended a Dabs of Paint free lecture about Louis Comfort  Tiffany, 1848-1933, (artistic son of the affluent Charles Tiffany, jeweler) ,and his glass creations at the Art League of Long Island. Debbie Wells gave the presentation and I won a tube of lip balm for asking a good question, where did the glass come from and who made it the colors and textures, Tiffany’s shop or was it imported from Italy (thinking of Murano glass)? The Tiffany factory in Queens. (Yippee!). Much of Tiffany’s creations remain on Long Island, and in the Queens Museum. Did you know former President Theodore Roosevelt and Louis Comfort Tiffany were neighbors in Oyster Bay? There was no “love thy neighbor” between them. In fact, Debbie revealed Teddy destroyed much of the exquisite Tiffany glass contents of the White House, when Teddy removed the Tiffany glass floor to ceiling glass screen  and rooms filled with Tiffany glass. (Sacrilege!)

In 1882, former US President Chester Alan Arthur, who refused to move into the White House until redecorating it, employing Louis C. Tiffany, which led to Tiffany’s elevated  reputation in decorative arts, in New York Society. Louis Tiffany’s offer to repurchase the items resulted in a resounding “NO” and his White House artistry was destroyed. 

Dabs of Paint Lecture with Debbie Wells
Louis Comfort Tiffany, ca. 1908
Louis with family and parents (seated)

Tiffany’s White House stained glass doors.

Famous and valuable Tiffany lamps are so colorful and artful.

LI Artists Exhibition 2017 — 58th Long Island Artists Exhibition (February 18 – March 21)

While at the Art League, I toured the exhibit of art selected by a couple who own a Broome Street gallery in NYC.  My mother taught me not to say anything if I don’t have something good to say, and I try to practice that teaching. I can confidently report that much of the very diverse and multi-categoried artwork represented fell within the range of Excellent to Very Good. (Less than one fourth should have been hidden in a garage or basement, out of sight). I didn’t agree with the “vision” of the gallery owners’ judgements. I don’t want to create enemies, so I am zipping it!  What I thought should have won didn’t even get an honorable mention,… and I am looking at it from an artist’s perspective. Thoughts running through my mind included : Are the judges artists of any merit? I don’t know.Anyone with enough money could buy a gallery, right? Maybe, maybe not. Why would anyone who had no artistic background and love of art get into the business?  Is their gallery profitable? I don’t know the answers. Maybe it’s best to just agree to disagree.  It is a sad commentary on the art world –that it’s so influenced by subjective decisions, while highly competitive, (like show business) ….We can contemplate the whys and the what ifs until we die, while “the show must go on.”  Readers, Please visit the show and send me your feedback. 

…I hope the Art League of LI will have the judges return to explain their decisions, as they did with a previous exhibition. I believe it would be helpful to know their perspective before jumping to conclusions.

After writing about the Art League show, I spoke with another artist, one who is in the exhibit, and she agreed with me!

Upcoming… the well-known abstract artist, (now about 90 years young) Stan Brodsky is having a show at the same LI Art League’s Jeannie Tengelsen Gallery, with Wimberley, of his generation, and the second generation Galasso and Swiggett. I am not familiar with these artists, which is insignificant, because I can’t know everyone’s work. It is an ongoing adventure, going to exhibits and meeting artists and who they follow and admire. I was told by someone at the Art League, that the four artists got together and rented the gallery for their “Long Island Abraction: 2 Generations” Show, March 25 thru April 15, 2017. The reception is Sunday, April 2, 2-4 PM. I’m looking forward to it, even though their style of abstract art isn’t my style. I can appreciate another’s vision, even if it doesn’t jive with mine. It’s okay to be different, even as an abstract artist.  Art is the full spectrum of diversity.

Cheap caps on expensive tubes of paint are more common than you may think.

Sometimes accidents lead to opportunities to create good art. This happened to me once before, a cheap plastic white cap on a large paint tube snapped off, leaving the ring of white plastic as a collar on the tube’s neck. Without the cap, there was no protection to prevent the paint from drying, becoming a wasted good paint and money. (The replacement tubes with caps didn’t work when I tried them).  I wound up grabbing the largest canvas I had and covering much of it with the paint. It happen with my “BOUNCE” painting, now on exhibit at the Farmingdale Public Library, (thru March), and it happened again last night with a Utrecht brand large tube of Pthalo blue paint.  I covered not only a 30×40″ canvas, but also a 20×24″ canvas. I was inventive, while spreading the magnificent deep blue paint, luscious and sensual, it spread all over, including turning my hands and fingernails deep blue (which took a lot of soap and warm water and scraping to remove).  The larger painting looks mysterious, as I added white and shades of blue, the other is minimalistic with darker leading to lighter. My friend says she loves that one and I must leave it alone. How can I allow myself to be minimalistic now? ...That’s the dilemma and the opportunity  a cheap cap on an expensive tube of paint opened up for me. Minimalism is “Simply Blue” or it isn’t?

“Simply Blue” ©Karen Kirshner 3,12,2017

Thinking about minimalism…I doubt anyone would give me an award to “Simply Blue”. Somehow I could not see what excited people about minimalism. As I see it…it is similar to a color swatch, just large, and it is color that excites most people (unless catatonic). Even white on white, triggers a mood or emotional response.( i.e., ‘what’s the idea of show on snow’, or ‘ how dare you call that white canvas art!’). Swatches of color can be likened to the chakras — colors have energy that emminates and vibrates. In fact, it can be associated with musical notes, sound can be associated with color. All can be interrelated. Am I high, you may be asking. Never! I don’t touch drugs or alcohol, there’s enough in color to give me the same thing.

Minimalism isn’t something I studied, but I did see a lot of it in museums and galleries, especially in the 1970s, and 1980s.   It was not just minimalism in painting, for example. Frank Stella, but also  in sculpture and installation art, with Sol Lewitt and Dan Flaven, Installation Artists, and Sculptors Larry Bell and Donald Judd, and there are many more whose work I saw and didn’t have the same enthusiasm as another minimalist would.

I do know a minimalist, although he hasn’t been painting much in recent years.  He’s a dear friend, Jim O. (now in San Francisco)  whom I met when I was going into my sophomore year at Vassar and he was getting his MFA with Michigan State University. We were both in the Michigan State University’s Summer abroad program, in which we each earned  6 Honors Graduate Art credits at Bedford College, London University. Jim was a blonde blue-eyed handsome Midwesterner, and I was mesmerized. He was the first minimalist I had met. I liked him so much — his peaceful manner and his sensitivity and kindness — and his art was an expression of his vision and personality. Accompanied by him, my appreciation for minimalism was introduced.

It isn’t “my way” and I wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars for such a piece of “work.” Although, the way he described his process, it was work; the careful  layering of color or white on white and the precision and concentration he used. He was truly seriously focussed and determined and articulate.  I have come to believe, knowing the artist helps to foster an appreciation for the artist’s self expression.

A blizzard that’s coming to New York …expected on March 14, my beloved, departed artist mother Betty’s birthday (she would have been 88) . Two artful events were rescheduled, Portrait painting at the Art Guild of Port Washington where there are still two seats left (so  if you’re interested, hurry and sign up), and the North Hempstead Town Hall Reception for the Art Show, Multiculturalism in North Hempstead 2017, where I am to receive the honorable mention award for “Mama,” (which would have been particularly apropos on her birthday!) Instead, crossing my fingers that we won’t lose power, I may be working on one of those blue paintings.

A few of exciting events you might want to check out…

Abstract artist Kevin Larkin’s collaborative creations are  in a show through March,  with one other artist at the So. Huntington Public Library, 145 Pidgeon Hill Rd, Huntington Station, NY 11746. I perused the exhibit and was excited by the diversity of artists on display. Larkin and Josyph worked separately on assemblages with a religious theme, in which each  participated in creating into the final pieces by putting their own changes as imprinting on the other’s work without interference, Each trusted the other to make changes . Like religion, much of it is based on trust and faith, that there is a God  and that the stories passed down ring true. They ran the full length of a long wall,  In addition, there were small paintings by another artist and on an opposite wall two more artists’ works. The gallery of the So. Huntington Library in Huntington Station, NY was an enormous exhibition space. The show ends on March 30-31. 

















Watercolorist Jan Guarino just alerted me she’s having a “Meet the Artist” gallery opening  7PM on Thursday, March 23,  and the exhibition will run through the rest of March and thru April, at the SJCC building, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack , NY. Call (631) 462-9800 x 140Bat-Shiva Slavan for more information.

And, there is a free Landmark art lecture about Renaissance art , on Wednesday,  at 2 PM on March 22, at the Landmark at 232 Main Street, in Port Washington, NY 11050.  It’s , co-sponsored by the Art Guild of Port Washington.Afternoon T.E.A. at Landmark on Main Street  — Art Presentation: The Renaissance Evolution with Anita Rabin-Havt.
“The Renaissance Evolution: The first period to be aware of its own existence and to coin a label. This program will show the versatility of the Renaissance greatness as it transitioned from Giotto to Massacio, enhancing the viewer’s appreciation of what makes a “Renaissance” work of art. The presentation will focus on Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Leonardo and conclude with Raphael’s masterpiece “The School of Athens” painted in 1508-15l1 which exemplifies the traits first seen in the early Renaissance.
Anita Rabn-Havt is a professional lecturer and art history educator with over 40 year of experience. She continues to lecture, teach continuing education programs and give art tours.”
Co-Presented with Jeanne Rimsky Theater at Landmark On Main Street. See the website for more information: or 516.767.1384

All tea refreshments provided thanks to SerendipiTEA. Baked goods courtesy of Coffeed Port Washington.
Free admission to Afternoon TEA is made possible by the support of the Manhasset Community Fund, Greentree Foundation “Good Neighbor” Fund and the New York Community Bank Foundation.

About me…My exhibition is still on through March 30-31. Please don’t miss it at the Farmingdale Public Library’s gallery.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working  on new paintings. One of them, “American-Made” was just framed. Two others are in the process of being framed. Even though I have an excellent frame shop now, I wish I knew how to frame them myself. I’d save a lot of money.  I will be on the lookout for how-to workshops in framing. I’ve never seen one, but they must be out there. Framing is one of the most costly thing an artist must do.  My mother used to hammer on pieces of matching wood  she’d select  and have cut at Home Depot, and she’d frame that way, or not at all. Many years ago, we both used the self-assembly metal frames, which weren’t really appropriate for every painting. (long gone) Pearl Paint had them in gold and silver, maybe in black too. A frame can make or break the picture. In fact, when I was inventorying my mother’s paintings with her, she told me it was too costly to frame every painting, so she’s switch out paintings with the same frames sometimes.  What she hadn’t counted on is what I found to be alarming, Many of her creations were warped because they weren’t framed or not in proper frames.  It’s important for the integrity of the work to maintain it with great care. Shoving a painting in a rack in the basement is not the best way to preserve your work.

Town of North Hempstead’s “Arts Matter 2017” Multiculturalism  in North Hempstead Town Hall  Exhibit & Reception 

March 21, 2017, I attended the reception at Town Hall in Manhasset, NY. I don’t live in North Hempstead, but I am a member of the Art Guild of Port Washington, which is located in the town, and therefore I was invited to participate. I had shown my “Lovebirds” painting in the first Arts Matter show of 2016. This is is the second such event. It is an investment in the Town of North Hempstead’s appreciation of artists’ contributions to the community. I am grateful for the opportunity and for the appreciation, which is certainly  gratifying.

I met the other artists whose work made it onto the  exclusive  wall space allotted for the exhibit. It was an honor relegated to a handful of artists from a selection of many more who applied. There Previously, I had  panicked, fearing my painting, “MAMA” (representing the subculture of the aged population) would not be accepted, and perhaps wouldn’t be appreciated by non-artists. My work is always non-traditional,  Fortunately,  I was awarded “honorable mention”. It was a pleasure to meet the retired physician, Milt Masur, a humble, evolved thinker, who won first place with his apropos Bas Relief of a multi-racial/ethnic choir. He had a second one of students black, white, yellow and brown in a classroom. His work was 3-dimensional, exhibited a great deal of skill and was unique.  There was no question he addressed the theme.

The VIPs officials of the Town of North Hempstead were gracious, warm, welcoming and catered the reception with fruit, cheeses, crackers and other savory treats and beverages. I did not indulge because I am struggling with my second round of Jenny Craig dieting. It took mighty self-control!

Our photos were taken for a newspaper and for the town archives followed by a reception, in which each of us was called up to receive certificate plaques. I expected nothing as an Honorable Mention, and was surprised. I received a lovely plaque with mention of the “MAMA” painting. Our photos were again taken with the town’s officials and it was an uplifting experience. I had thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it, and I was wrong. While there, a Port Washington artist was particularly excited to meet me, because he liked the avant guard,  and he recognized my unique style and appreciated it.  His praise and enthusiasm lifted my spirit.  He was somehow connected with the town’s decision makers.  Turns out he knew Jennifer Lopez and Andy Warhol, and has a studio in Port Washington, and I don’t know if he was serious, but he invited me to see his studio, which I will do (with Elle) sometime in the future, for sure. He painted Andy Warhol style soup Campbell Soup cans as Goya Bean cans. Great idea for representing the Latino perspective.

I’ll introduce you to the artists I met….

First Place, Milt Masur, MD
Barbara Silbert, extraordinary portrait artist/teacher, Second place for Haitian woman
Milt Masur, MD, first place winner TONH Arts Matter 2017 with his artwork


Psychologist/art therapist, Phyllis Gildson, Ph.D. Although not one of the ribbon recipients, she won a prominent place on the wall.
Karen Kirshner with “MAMA” Honorable Mention


There I am, receiving my unanticipated award plaque.











Note, I’m missing the third place winner. Her portraits had bright background colors and they popped. A local newspaper will print names and group photo.







Neue Galerie New York  …Visit to see GUSTAV KLIMT

Well worth the visit.  The East 86th St. & Fifth Ave. mansion turned museum  focused on the early to mid-20th Century German and Austrian Art and Design  was cozy and reminded of the original salons in Europe and in New York City.  I thought I had seen enough of Klimt in my youth and wasn’t excited about the exhibit, and yet hen I saw the paintings of this master artist/designer, I was breathless. I literally could not catch my breath. Spellbound, I was stunned by the genius on display. I was fascinated with the fact he put design elements into his portraits which I do, but I did it naturally, not referring to anyone else. I was pleased to see it and that we were on the same wavelength. His drawings look like they are done as mine are, same sort of style of drawing. Mine have improved since I posted a couple. But like him they are with simple lines, not all filled in with shading and elaboration. Clean, pure simple lines. Many of his drawings and paintings were present, even thought the official show was no longer new to New York. There was work by contemporaries Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka were on exhibit. Gustav Klimt used to open the door of his patrons to help other artists obtain commissions. He was generous that way. Never married, he was said to have had many women lovers in his lifetime. One of the women he was seen with was the sister of one of his sister-in-law, who collaborated with him in designing jewelry and she designed dresses for his patrons.

A separate  exhibition of Alexei Jawlensky, a Russian artist, whose work I did not admire. So primitive that one his landscapes looked like my maternal grandfather’s who had no formal artistic training, just a passion for it and used his house paints in recollecting his life in what was “Russia” (really Belarus). I love my grandfather’s paintings, because he was my grandfather.

We visited all three floors. An elevator made the long winding staircases a footnote. We saw the fantastic “Woman in Gold” of which the popular movie starring Helen Mirren  was based. That  1907 Gustav Klimt masterpiece portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. the Austrian Jewess with a fortune made by Sugar. The Dancer and other portraits of women were each spectacular. Nothing surpassed the use of gold and the patterning and A’s and B’s placed in Adele’s portrait. Finding them, counting them was a challenge. One of the other visitors helped me find them. WOW!  It is a treasure, not just because of the gold leafing used, but because it is the perfection of portraiture and design melded together into a whole entity, unlike any other. One of a kind. Klimt became my favorite painter and no one ever dethroned Picasso for me.

We continued to the Cafe’ Sabarsky on the bottom level. My friend had bratwurst t and Austrian beer and I had a traditional pastry and cafe latte. The feel of the cafe’ was Austrian early-mid twentieth century. Pricey as it should be, a truly unique experience and one I highly recommend.

The two portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt



Alexei Jawlensky’s Byzantine Woman

































Next,  I attended a popular lecture about Gustav Klimt at the Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence, NY. After I found my seat, there was only standing-room left. The chairs were filled. I never saw the room packed like that before. WOW and I could understand why. The lecturer was Thomas Germano, Art Professor at SUNY Farmingdale. It was a thorough in-depth review of Gustav Klimt’s life, work, relationships and masterpieces. He died of a stroke, in 1918 at the end of WW1 and did not have to endure WWII.  The niece of Adele, one of his greatest patrons fought to retrieve the painting and a total of five that were among the many stolen from her family by the Nazis in WWII. She won and so did New York!  After she obtained them, she sold them for millions of dollars and made a special agreement for her aunt’s portrait to be on display in a museum, and thankfully, Ronald Lauder kept his word.  Oprah Winfrey bought one of the paintings anonymously at auction and lent it out for exhibitions, and then resold it for a $40 million profit, which covered her loss investing in Weight Watchers.  Who had the painting now, we don’t know. It could be a Russian Oligarch, couldn’t it?  I certainly hope not.

Karen Kirshner at Thomas Germano’s Gustav Klimt lecture


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