Stolen Art Recovered / L.A. Times

detail from Les Paysans by Marc Chagall

detail from Les Paysans by Marc Chagall

Works of art valued at $10 million and stolen from an Endocino home in 2008 have been recovered.

9 works of art that were stolen 6 years ago in one of the largest art heists in L.A. history have been recovered by investigators from the L.A. police dept. and the FBI. according to court documents obtained by the L.A. Times.

After an undercover operation at a West L.A. hotel in Oct., federal authorities detained Raul Espinoza, 45, who tried to sell the paintings valued at $10 million for $700,000 cash.

The 9 works recovered were among the dozens stolen from the Endocino home on the morning of Aug. 24, 2008.

A thief or thieves entered through the unlocked kitchen door of a wealthy real estate investor’s home and made off with works including Marc Chagall’s “Les Paysans” and Diego Rivera’s “Mexican Peasant”.

The elderly collectors were in their bedroom and heard nothing, according to the police report. At the time of the heist, the housekeeper was out buying groceries. After returning home the housekeeper noticed the hallway and living room walls were barren.

The case went cold until Sept. 2, 2014 when Det. Donald Hrycyk of the LAPD’s art theft detail was tipped off to a man in Europe known as “Darko” who was soliciting buyers for the stolen art.

Darko said he was merely the middle man for an unknown person in possession of the art in California.

The FBI. and the LAPD. set up an undercover operation and arrested Raul Espinoza. Espinoza was charged with receiving stolen property and has pleaded not guilty. He’s being held on $5 million bail.

3 paintings are still missing and Hrycyk is searching Espinoza’s phone to find the identity of the persons involved.

James River with 295 Bridge / oil paint and photo

One day in the swamp / a plein air story

One day in the swamp / a plein air story

Does Realism show reality? Is my work Realism?

Does Realism show reality? Is my work Realism?

I wish I could answer yes or no but I can’t decide.

On one hand I’d say no because reality changes so fast and I work slowly. I think of a photo of being closer to reality than my painting but the camera lies. My naked eyes lie too. The camera can’t show depth as well as my naked eye sees it and flattens the colors too. Then on the other hand, as I’m trying to paint what I see, I’m making decisions and changes every step of the way that take the painting away from reality.

When weather permits, I go to the same place at the same time of day and work on my painting for a few hours. Some times the tide is out at noon and some times it’s in at noon. I have to decide which tide I want to paint. I wind up painting over what I did the time before, or faking the water when it’s all different. It’s an experiment. If it looks convincing I’ll try to do that again and if it’s not good I give up on that one and try something else.

ok, here’s the story.

I was walking down the trail towing my art supplies and a man who was walking back out stopped and said to me, “It’s not a good day for painting down there. The tide is out. Way out. I’ve never seen it so low. It’s a mud flat.” He wondered what phase the moon was in. I didn’t know about the moon. I said, “That’s ok. I’m not working on the water today. I have to do the background trees first.”

It was windy and cold that day and I had to mix some colors before painting. I took the lid off my palette and put it on the ground. Right away the wind blew the lid down on the mud about 10 ft. out. I had to climb down a steep slippery muddy hill about 5 ft. then step on two logs that are usually submerged to reach the lid. I was glad I was wearing my hiking boots. I didn’t fall into the muck. Then I used vines to pull myself up the hill again.

We had a lot of wind and that makes it difficult, but if the sun’s out I want to try to make some progress on the painting. It’s not only that the wind blows your supplies away, it knocks down your easel and painting if you forget to hold on. It blows all kinds of debris into your paint and onto your wet painting. Most of it comes off easily when the paint dries. Mother Nature doesn’t make it easy for the plein air painter.

Elements of Creativity / image from

elements of creativity

Creativity is an important issue to artists these days but I don’t feel concerned about being creative or being “original”. It’s so simple when you see it broken down like this.

When an artist “creates” they put themselves into the new thing. That’s self expression. No two artists will come up with the same thing even when they start with the same subject or theme. You can’t stop from putting yourself into the art. The artist will always be revealed in their work.

If an artist is worried about creativity and feels stuck, uninspired or bored with their art they need to simplify their life. Too many distractions or obligations will suck the creative energy out of an artist. If you’re an artist and you aren’t feeling creative, you should make changes in other areas of your life so you can do art. A few little changes adds up to big changes. Can you make the changes? Can you do without the busy lifestyle? Will you be too lonely without the social life? Can you get away from the demands of the career or the demands of family? That’s what you have to do so you can concentrate on art. When your mind is less distracted you get the inspiration so fast you can’t keep up with it.

When Shelby and I graduated from York Academy of Art our teachers had us all write a paper about how we would continue in art. Then we got a lecture from one of our teachers who told us, “You girls will never do art. You will get married, have kids, get a job and art will fall out of your life.” We both brushed it off as stupid then that happened to me. Now, at this point in my life all that is over and art is back. That’s why I can say with certainty, if creativity is a problem you must simplify your life.

What Does Your Art Say About You?

Paris Dance

The Can-Can – ATC

I love France. I love the French. The country and their people intrigued me from the time I was a child. I guess you could say I was born a Francophile.

Before I learned to read, my Mom and I would walk to the Brooklyn Public Library six days a week. And there in the children’s section, was my treasure trove. I would run to the books with the opening lines that set my imagination free… “In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines… the smallest one was Madeline.” How I adored Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series!

And that was just the beginning. I dreamed of France…of seeing for myself the beautiful streets described in Bemelmans’ books. I wanted to experience the art, the culture, the sights, the smells, the food of that wonderful country.

All those feeling came rushing back to me when looking through my collection of ATCs. I found my homage to the dance I performed  at our “Christmas Around the World” school play. Ah…The Can-Can! At last! The play that year was my chance to experience Art Nouveau Paris and The Moulin Rouge. Visions of Lautrec danced in my mind!

It was years later when living in England that I made my pilgrimage France. With that first trip my feet were finally planted in the country of my childhood dreams. And everything was even better than I had hoped. The French could be “difficult”, I was warned, especially in Paris. I had also heard that about my home city, New York. I knew it wasn’t true about New York…could it be the same for the City of Light?

With my extremely basic hold on their lyrical language, I ventured into the streets of Paris. I found a small bistro off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and did my best to order an omelette without the sausage. The waiter was patient and wonderfully helpful. And he responded to me in his equally basic English. What arrived at my table, honestly, was the greatest meal of my life. Imagine my surprise when the waiter said if I didn’t like it the chef could make me something else!

This exchange set the tone of my first trip and for all the ones after. Regardless of national origin, we are all the same…sharing the same hopes, dreams, and desires. The French say it perfectly…joie de vivre…a philosophy of life.

I used a standard manila ATC card for the substrate . Text from travel brochures, and dictionary pages were added.  I found a vintage image of the dancers and finished the card with rubber stamped images and acrylic paint.

As artists we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap we sometimes feel when taking a journey to somewhere new. Everyone, everywhere, wants to be treated with respect. We all want to feel that we do matter. Our work says more about us than words can ever convey. What does your work say about you?

Urban Individualist’ new space at Artworks

urban individualists at artworksIMG_1364




We moved into another little gallery at Artworks. It’s upstairs #201. We’re participating in the holiday sale. IMG_1368
The members of the Urban Individualists are Helene Ruiz, Sherri Bangoy, Ashira Benitez, David Freeman and myself. It looks like Helene and I are hogging the space, but we don’t mind taking our things down if the other group members bring in more work. Sherri, our new member does those beautiful Native American dolls and the leather hand bags. We rearranged a little more after I took these photos. We’ll be changing the space around a lot.IMG_1370

I like the space. The window is nice. There’s a cozy love seat for our visitors to hang around and get comfortable. Sherri might be found there doing her hand sewing in our little gallery over the weekend.

I have to do my labels. I’ll get back down there with them this weekend.

Artworks is on Hull St. a few blocks South of the 14th St. Bridge. In the Manchester area of Richmond.
4th St. and Hull St.

These photos don’t show everything. Come on down!

Fine Winter’s Sky / woodcut by Kawase Hasui / Feb 1921

IMG_1363 This is a great exhibit at the VMFA. It’s so inspirational. The plaques say it’s ink and color woodcut prints on paper. I wonder if it’s watercolor because they have some watercolor paintings by the artist. The colors look transparent on the woodcuts too. A lot of depth is showing. One of the plaques says it’s not traditional Japanese landscape. They also have a lot of info on the process he used. It’s complicated. But good to see how much work went into them. You can see layers of colors. I tried to see through the layers. Kawase Hasui did watercolor studies and changed his composition and colors during the steps to the finished prints. He didn’t shy away from detail. The ones with snow have thousands of white dots for snow and the ones with rain have skinny gray lines to represent rain. I wonder if they did a separate wood plate for the snow and printed it on top or if they gouged out tiny dots on the wood block so the ink wouldn’t go in those places on every block. If you like looking at fine woodcuts you should see this exhibit.

Port of Ebisu / Dec. 1921

Port of Ebisu / woodcut print/ Dec. 1921

cartoon anatomy by Hyungkoo Lee / Korean

Bugs Bunny skull

Bugs Bunny skull

Image lifted from imgur

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