Friday, December 8, 2023

The Drift of Time


“We humans appear on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31.” -Carl Sagan

How can we calculate a human life? What may be large and loud one moment will have receded to the background to make way for a new something the next. We can never really know how our future will take shape, plan as we might. It is this mystery, this inability to see beyond the present that makes life simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. A life may start inauspiciously only to meander somehow into the path of greatness. The mighty may topple. What feels absolute often proves just as shaky as the sand.

Michael D Price is an artist living and working in New York City. At present he is working on paintings for his series Resurrection Adventures. The paintings are titled Black Elk’s Tears and King Midas Regrets the Golden Touch. Both are highly politically and emotionally charged and represent the third and fourth paintings in the series. The idea for the series came to Price while he was in intensive care and has developed from concept to fully fledged series. Although the series isn’t planned from beginning to end, Price has already mapped out in his mind the next three pieces based on Dante’s Inferno. Some of Price’s previous work has an element of relief, figures emerge from the canvas. This technique began when he lived in Munich, and was based on a Greek sculpture collection. He created casts of his model at the time and used rice paper to create layers that he attached to the panel. From there Price created what he refers to as a “chromatic relief.” Price has not created paintings using this method since being in New York. Much of Price’s work has a narrative quality, something he eschewed in his early days. Price’s artistic life was essentially launched when he won a national art contest in England and was able to attend Central School in London to study art in the early 1970s. After graduation he held day jobs. He relocated to Holland where Flemish paintings took hold. He set abstract painting aside and continued his travels and education. Eventually he found himself in Munich which is where he says his artistic career truly began. Throughout these years, Price taught ESL and slowly built a group of collectors who have followed him through the years. Price became fascinated with the use of natural pigments such as Lapis Lazuli and he set out to paint with these natural colors. This opened an entirely new path for the artist. In 2017 he published a two volume book titled Renaissance Mysteries about the use of natural color. For a long time Price had no access nor a clear understanding of natural pigments. While living in Munich he became connected to Kremer Pigments, an art store specializing in exactly these sort of colors. Kremer Pigments went on to finance the publication of Price’s book. To hear more about the use of natural and mineral pigments and Michael Price’s work, listen to the full interview.

Minnette Lehmann will turn 90 this year. She is a writer, former photographer, painter, and intellectual. Her early memories are of the trappings of childhood, and of her baby sister and attending the cinema in Sacramento, California. From 1948-1958 Lehman was in and around U.C. Berkeley. She began college at age 16 because she needed to get out of Sacramento. There she studied Sociology and married a Trotskyist. Minnette became a Marxist. She says her marriage was in part a way to separate herself from her family. In 1949 she graduated and relocated to Paris where she took up with the nascent Paris Review crowd. She traveled through Europe and the Middle East, all the while writing. Her first marriage ended. Lehman returned to the US and got married again. She married Herbert Lehman, a student psychoanalyst. The couple had three children. The late 1960s were seminal for Lehman in many ways. It was then that she first picked up a camera belonging to her son to document students being teargassed at San Francisco State. During this time her daughter Barbara developed cancer and underwent treatment successfully. In her 40s Lehman attended The Art Institute where she earned an MFA in photography. Lehman earned an NEA grant for her work documenting couples in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She says that through these images she was witnessing the dissolution of the institution of marriage. Lehman next turned her lens on the unclothed human form and found that her images were something of a precursor to the feminist movement. During her time in the cancer ward while her daughter underwent treatment she explains that she spent a lot of time feeling out of control and with people who were dying. Behind the camera she was in control and working with people who were very much alive. Over the course of five years Lehman photographed hundreds of people disrobed. By the early 1970s Lehman was “very feminist.” She was also the mother of a pre-adolescent boy and turned her attention to the discourse of comic books. The decade spanning from 1988 to 1998 “was packed with death,” Lehman says. She lost her mother and her daughter who had survived cancer as a child. It was during this time that she found her way to painting. “I have the temperament of a painter. I make more sense as a painter.” To hear Minnette Lehman discuss her life decade by decade, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Do not imagine that this is the beginning or the end of things. Keep moving around every corner and remain open to the limitless possibilities that lie beyond them.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Minnette Lehman is reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. Renaissance Mysteries by Michael D Price is available now.


Ecuador Poster Bienal is accepting submissions from those in the fields of design, art, architecture, photography, and visual communicators of all sorts regardless of age or nationality. There is no fee for entry and those chosen will have their work presented for a global audience. See the website for more details. Deadline is October 22.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.



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