Sunday, January 16, 2022

Today A Burial

Larry Wolf, Family Headstone (2021)

From a Distance

It’s a cold day in January. My mother’s body has died. Her spirit is fully alive in each of us. 

You are gathered together at the grave. Her passing is brutally present for you. Some of us who love her, who love you, are not there, though we are very much still present on this planet, and in each other's hearts.

Maxine, my mother, our mother, grandmother, cousin, aunt, friend …, has been preparing us for her passing for a long time, from the ways she strove to celebrate each of our unique lives, to the handmade birthday cards she sent, to the redbud tree she insisted was planted last year on the hillside by Katey and Scott, Alex and Daniel’s home, where she spent so much time these past two years, to her desire to be buried here, on this hillside.

I miss her greatly and I feel deeply called upon, to emulate her spirit of rebirth, of the many ways she reinvented herself and expanded her life through the years. To live more fully, to love deeper, to make bolder art, to make music - like she played the ukulele.. however badly, but so full of her unique life force. 

May she dance with the angels. May she sing from the heavens. May she live in our hearts.

Thank you. Bless you. Be in peace.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Art and Food

My mother was a great fan of the arts long before she started painting. We were museum buddies for many years, from my childhood all through my life. Somewhere in there, she started taking me to her favorite museum restaurants.

Museum of Modern Art

Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at MoMA (2021)

Neue Gallery - Cafe Zabarsky

Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at Neue Gallery Cafe Zabarsky (2016) 

Met Breuer

Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at the Met Breuer (2018)

Morgan Library

Larry Wolf, Mom on the Way to Lunch at the Morgan Library (2019)


Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at Whitney (2015)

Asia Society

Larry Wolf, Mom at the Asia Society (2019)

No photo from our lovely lunch.

Jewish Museum

Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at the Jewish Museum (2019)

Buvette (a bit of Paris in New York - not a museum)

Larry Wolf, Mom Dining at Buvette (2018)

National Gallery of Modern Art - Rome

Larry Wolf,

Espresso at the National Gallery of Modern Art Rome (2016)

Mom was here, but there was no photo of her from lunch, only this empty cup.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

My Mother Is Now With The Angels

My mother passed on today. She's on her next adventure. Ninety years well lived.

I visited my mother in NY in July 2021. We had a delightful day at the Museum of Modern Art. 

Larry Wolf, Mom at MoMA (2021)

She was a big fan of having lunch at the museums as part of the experience. MoMA was one of her favorite places for both the art and the food.

Larry Wolf, Lunch with Mom at MoMA (2021)

Her own apartment was overflowing with her own art.

Larry Wolf, Mom's Art (2021)

How to honor a life? 

By keeping the person alive in my life, in the lives of my sisters, in the lives of her grandsons, in the many lives she touched with her life. 

She reinvented herself many times: a wife and mother, a single parent, an office worker, a therapist, an artist, and so much more. She was a great example of living every day fully, with passion, with creativity, with love.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

My 2021 Zine Making Journey

Sparks of Joy

One of the joys of the pandemic (yes, I said that) has been the on-lime communities and the art making opportunities that sprung up. 

Larry Wolf, Three Zines (2021)
In February of 2021, I joined a photo zine class with Shawn Rowe and some buddies from Lillstreet Art Center. I quickly got hooked ол single-sheet zines, both accordion fold and the classic 8-page mini-zine. 

I liked the small technical challenge to do the layout in Photoshop and that I could then print them on 11x17 ledger size paper and cardstock at my neighborhood Staples.

One hundred years late, I had entered the world of mechanically reproduced art. [Thank you Walter Benjamin]

Zines seemed like the perfect answer to the nagging questions

What do I do with my photos? 

What kind of object do they become?. 

From Objects To A Community 

With zines in hand, and in the mail, I started showing them, exchanging them, and generally made them my cartes de visite* - a jumping off point for a conversation, a way to show something which spoke to me - or some soap box I wanted to talk from. 

[*calling cards or cartes de visite - For several decades, beginning in the 1850s, it was common to have photographs mounted on cards that were 2½ x 4“ to be left as a calling card or otherwise shared with friends and family. They were the beginning of small scale mass production, sometimes personal, sometimes cultural. 

Later (1925-1928), Andre Kertesz used postcard stock as his art form during his first years in Paris, sharing them among the artists who were part of his emigre cafe community. Late in his life, Kertesz became enamored with Polaroid SX70 images. I too was a fan of the SX70 and its prints. There is something joyful about passing around photos with friends.]

Larry Wolf, Zine Mercado
I started sharing my zines with other zine makers (at Zine Mercado, at Quimby’s, through the Zine Club Chicago, with others in Jasper Goodrich's SIP art classes at the Hyde Park Art Center, and at the Filter Photo Festival and crit group).  

... and Archives

I learned from Nat Pyper that there is a queer zine archive, QZAP, in Milwaukee (with great on-line access). There's also the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection at SAIC (a great resource when they re-open to the public). 

Moving into the Third Dimension

Several people suggested I look at Hedi Kyle and Ulla Warchol's book The Art of the Fold.

The little books they describe are so much more than ordinary booklets. They are handcrafted 3-D objects. OMG. 

How does this work? 

Where do I start?

Larry Wolf, 3-D Prototype (2021)
I started with a variation on the 8-page mini-zine. It takes a sheet folded the long-way and then works with the short-way folds and cuts across pairs of panels, to create pop-put sections. I love the architectural look.

From that concept, I drew on it, scanned it, added layers of color with a Risograph, rescanned that, further edited it digitally, and printed a run to pass around. 

I kind of got carried away. Wow! WTF? (see To Hold Infinity - Zine Club Edition)

Looking Ahead

Now that I have the 3-D bug on top of the zine bug, I’ve been further researching the world of pop-up books and modernist origami. I’m blown away by the awesome creations. For example, the documentary film Between the Folds (also on YouTube), this presentation by Erik Demaine and the many books of Paul Jackson and so many others!!!

As I continue to lean into single sheet creations, where will this take me?

Larry Wolf, Paper Mask Self-Portrait (2022)
[based on a design by Paul Jackson]

Previously Posted in 2021

To Hold Infinity

Rough Raw Reclaimed




Thursday, December 30, 2021

An essay by Ursula K LeGuin, - an afterword in We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

The Stalin in the Soul - Sketch for a Science Fiction Novel

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1973, 1975

in The Future Now
Robert Hoskins, editor
Published by Fawcett/Random House, 1977

included in The Language of the Night
Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction
By Ursula K. Le Guin · 1979

afterward in We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
reprinted 2021

Some Quotes from the Essay

Shock them, jolt them, titillate them, make them writhe and squeal - but do not make them think.


We do not believe in the reality of art. ... in the power of art to change the minds of men. 


Despite all disclaimers, it is only when science asks why, instead of simply describing how, that it becomes more than technology. When it asks why, it discovers Relativity. When it only shows how, it invents the atomic bomb, and then puts its hands over its eyes and says, My God. what have i done?

When art shows only how and what, it is trivial entertainment, whether optimistic or despairing. When it asks why, it rises from mere emotional response to real statement, and to intelligent ethical choice. It becomes, not a passive reflection, but an act.

And that is when all the censors, of the governments and of the marketplace, become afraid of it. 


Let Yevgeny Zamyatin, who understood something about truth, have the last word

A literature that is alive does not live by yesterday's clock, nor by today''s, but by tomorrows. It is a sailor sent aloft: from the masthead he can see foundering ships, icebergs, and maelstroms still invisible from the deck. 


What is truly alive stops before nothing and ceaselessly seeks answers to absurd, childish questions. Let the answers be wrong, let the philosophy be mistaken -- errors more valuable than truths, truth is of the machine, error is alive; truth reassures, error disturbs. And if answers be impossible of attainment, all the better! Dealing with answered questions is the privilege of brains constructed like a cow's stomach, which, as we know, is built to digest cud.

If there is anything fixed in nature, if there were truths, all this would, of course, be wrong. But fortunately, all truths are erroneous. This is the very essence of the dialectical process: today's truths become errors tomorrow; there is no final number.

Revolution is everywhere, in everything. It is infinite. There is no final revolution. There is no final number.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Pavement Calligraphy

 Clark and Lawrence

Larry Wolf, Pavement (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement - zine front and back (2021)

Larry Wolf, Pavement - zines (2021)

Monday, October 4, 2021

Sean Tucker - The Meaning In The Making

Sean Tucker, The Meaning
in the Making (2021)

Photographer. Filmmaker. Author. Sean Tucker is also a musician, a former minister, and an autodidact. I know him from his YouTube channel. He explores the "why" of making with just enough grounding in technical details to remind me that it's about how technology is used. Sean takes us along with him on his journey as he finds meaning in making. He learns by doing as well as from study. He creates lush scenes that nurture our senses and our souls.

The first 90 seconds of this video on the liminal times in our lives is magical.

The book, The Meaning in the Making, the why and how behind our human need to create, was written mostly during the pandemic, shortly after he turned 40. It parallels what has been on YouTube, though from a different angle and with more backstory. It's an engaging read, a seemingly small book packed with insights and compassion. At 319 pages, it not all that small. It definitely stands on its own, without the videos, and without any photographs other than the cover image.

A few points:

Meaning and Making - Humans are makers and we get meaning in our lives through our creative activities. We also understand our lives better through our making. It's a process of discovery and invention.

Chaos and Order - We live on the edge of chaos. The world is and has always been falling apart, whether from the the intimacy of a life from birth through death or the vast abstraction of thermodynamics, the continuing threat of thermonuclear war, the already present disruption of climate change, the many cycles in the rise and fall of civilizations. It is in confronting the chaos and making order, however transient or limited, that we grapple with the essence of our lives.

Mourn for Humanity - We must learn to mourn for humanity. It's a suggestion made to Sean by one of his seminary teachers. It's a lesson that I come back to again and again. Teju Cole talks about it as hospitality offered by those who are tired to those who are exhausted. We all have many wounds which need healing. From that place of humility and personal openness, we can take action which is helpful.

Follow Your Blisters - Joseph Campbell may have popularized the instruction to "follow your bliss", though Sean says he later wished he'd said to "follow your blisters". I find that in the winding trail of what I have done, what I keep coming back to, what my actions say more than my words, is where I found my own meaning in making. Searching around, I learned that Kate Sanborn in 1892 popularized the phrase “genius is inspiration, talent and perspiration," predating Edison's "2% inspiration, 98% perspiration" by a few years.

Shadows - If not for the shadows, there would be nothing to see. It's in the contrast between light and dark, in the changes in light, that we see form. It's from the shadows, from the periphery and the depths, that new things come - the wellspring of creation from the dark places of our being. And there's the counter story of hiding in the shadows, of fears of all kinds, to things denied or pushed aside, if only for the moment, before they become unavoidable. Embrace Your Shadows 

Benediction - Sean is still a minister, though his flock is now artists and his scripture is from a broad sweep of wisdom, not a single doctrine. (See his How I Write Scripts for my YouTube Videos)

The whole book is a blessing offered to us from his attempts to make order from chaos, to heal his own wounds, to find his own meaning. Following his lead, I offer my best wishes for Sean, the book, and all of us on our journeys.