Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Desire Lines

... a convenience and a transgression of externally imposed boundaries ...

... a path that is first created by one individual and then assumes a collective form ... 

...  a site of beauty, visibility, and agency ... 

... the gaps -- the information that is absent, overlooked, or rendered invisible ...

Igshaan Adams

Igshaan Adams, Al-Muhyee (The Giver of Life) (2020)

Igshaan Adams, Al-Mu'id (The Restorer of Life) (2020)

The two roses at opposite ends of the exhibition mirror the journey of life -- or, more specifically, the path between two stages of my life, from the moment I first connected to the concept of my own inner light and the responsibility of using that for good. I show the same rose in these two works, but at different points of its growth. The rose here is still just opening up, and the one at the opposite end of the exhibition is at the pinnacle of its bloom and beauty. The title of this work, Al Mu'id (The Restorer of Life), is one of the 99 names of Allah, each one referring to a quality. From the Sufi point of view, these 99 qualities are reflected in each of us, but most lie dormant. How can we activate them?
Igshaan Adams

Igshaan Adams, Desire Lines (Art Institute of Chicago Installation 2022)
Photo: Larry Wolf (2022)

Igshaan Adams, Desire Lines (Art Institute of Chicago Installation 2022)
Photo: Larry Wolf (2022)

Thursday, May 12, 2022


John Cage, Zen Ox-Herding Pictures

Stephanie Wada, The Oxherder

Yamada Mumon - Lectures on the Ten Oxherding Pictures

Sunday, April 24, 2022


... the night purpled around him

Larry Wolf, The Bull (2022)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Time Is A Mother

The Bull

He stood alone in the backyard, so dark

the night purpled around him. 

I had no choice. I opened the door

& stepped out. Wind

in the branches. He watched me with kerosene 

-blue eyes. What do you want? I asked, forgetting I had

no language. He kept breathing,

to stay alive. I was a boy --

which meant I was a murderer

of my childhood. & like all murderers, my god

was stillness. My god, he was still

there. Like something prayed for

Photo Credit: Tom Hines
by a man with no mouth. The green-blue lamp

swirled in its socket. I didn't

want him. I didn't want him to

be beautiful -- but needing beauty

to be more than hurt gentle

enough to hold, I

reached for him. I reached -- not the bull --

but the depths. Not an answer but

an entrance the shape of

an animal. Like me.

Ocean Vuong, Time Is A Mother (2022)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Drawing Drawing Drawing - Picasso's Guernica

Repeating is the whole of living and by repeating comes understanding, 
and understanding is to some the most important part of living.
Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. 
That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984)

Compositional Sketches

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-01 #1 (1937)

Picasso - Guernica Sketch - 1937-05-01 #2

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-01 #3

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-01

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-02

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-08 #1

Picasso - Guernica Sketch 1937-05-09 #2

Picasso - Guernica Sketch on Canvas 1937-05

Completed Work

Picasso - Guernica 1937

Picasso’s Guernica

Picasso’s response to the mass killings at Guernica is chronicled in the series of dated drawings and photographs of the work in progress, offering insights into the artistic process - the effort and evolution of finding form to convey ideas and emotions. 

Gertrude Stein on Picasso

This one always had something being coming out of this one. This one was working. This one always had been working. This one was always having something that was coming out of this one that was a solid thing, a charming thing, a lovely thing, a perplexing thing, a disconcerting thing, a simple thing, a clear thing, a complicated thing, an interesting thing, a disturbing thing, a repellant thing, a very pretty thing. This one was one certainly being one having something coming out of him. This one was one whom some were following. This one was one who was working.

Gertrude Stein, Picasso (1912)

Thursday, April 14, 2022


Larry Wolf, Astronaut (2022)

Larry Wolf, Astronaut (2022)

Larry Wolf, Astronaut (2022)

Larry Wolf, Astronaut (2022)

Drawn at Lillstreet Art Center in Karen Dana Cohen's Contemporary Drawing class on April 14, 2022.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Portrait Drawing


Larry Wolf, Portrait - Charcoal on Paper (2022

Larry Wolf, Portrait - Pen on Paper (2022)

Larry Wolf, Portrait - Conte Crayon on Paper (2022)

Drawn at Lillstreet Art Center in Karen Dana Cohen's Contemporary Drawing class on April 7, 2022.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Four Musings on Grief

My Body

Freeze … my default reaction … don’t breathe… hold it in my gut.. be still, be invisible, don’t attract attention. The storm will blow over. The monster will get bored and move on. The sun and the moon will still rise and set even when I can’t see them.

Quiet tears … most often on reading when people stretch beyond their abilities to protect others. I was proud of myself that I sobbed and had to catch my breath while reading a eulogy at my father’s grave side. 

Early messages to not show emotion, to not be a cry baby, to not be so sensitive, to stop having my feelings hurt. Grow up. Get over it. Be a man.

Learning, training, to be present. Decades of meditation, coach training, meditation instructor training…  to be present for others pain, for my own pain. Learning the curse of spiritual bypass, of “everything is impermanent” and yet, some things are deeply moving and it’s necessary to honor that depth and profundity, not imagine it away. Being present without manipulation, without a desired outcome, without tilting the scales. Allowing the decades, generations, of shielding to gently, slowly, gradually fall away… or not.

An aging body. Sometimes nurtured. Sometimes ignored. Sometimes cursed. The only one I have. Mostly we're friends with each other. 

Birth Family - New York City Second and Third Generation Child of Jewish Immigrants

My father’s parents' deaths.. his mother died when he was away at college, his father died when he was away in the Navy with his wife and infant children…  his last discussion with his father was a fight over presidential politics … the betrayal of his father’s business partner uncles who didn’t include my father or his brother in the business going forward nor give them their fair share. My mother’s own loss when my father’s/her husband’s father died. He was the only adult male who supported her unconditionally. All of that loss was pushed aside, pushed down, in service to functioning in the world. Not a week of shiva. Not a year of morning minyan. I was two when this grandfather died. The shadow around that time still lingers.

There is a bigger cultural story in the disappearance of ancestral/extended family during the genocide of WW2 The pogroms of a generation earlier had sent my grandparents and their parents, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins, in search of safety in Canada and the US. They rarely spoke of being refugees, and never of the gaping holes left in the web of a family, of a community, of a race (yes, being Jewish was then, and is sometimes now, a race, a “people'' with a language and for millennia only the folklore of a country, and now that country is an oppressive police state). Antisemitism continued in their new countries, in my country, though generally more subtly  than a mob riot or a military attack. Insidiously internalized, there was an overriding desire for safety - through assimilation for one branch of the family or living in the past of orthodoxy for another branch - neither approach has ever provided real safety. More than a shadow, a vast dark never-ending night.

Of course these attacks are not limited to any one group or race or time or place. Many sacred spaces have been invaded - synagogues, churches, mosques have all been scenes of terrorizing attack, descecration and murder. Trauma both strengthens and destroys family and community.

Lived Community - A Gay Male Out Since Shortly After Stonewall 

Going to a smoky gay bar was a refuge from pervasive inner and outer homophobia. It was also scary, stepping into the lion’s den, confronting my own sexual desires, fearing the stereotypes, finding tricks and friends and lovers… making a life. 

Seeking to counter the mainstream narrative with my own life, being as visible as I felt was safe. Taking control of the cultural message, with my immediate family, as part of the speaker bureau for LGBT student groups, as co-chair of Out in the Mountains (the Vermont LGBT monthly newsletter/magazine), interviewed by newspapers, testifying at state legislative hearings, attending local/regional Pride events and the Marches on Washington. 

And then, during and through that, the overwhelming tragedy of AIDS. The panic of an emerging pandemic, the vitriolic attacks by the Catholic church (and others), the turning away of the government (local, state, federal), … and the emerging community of activists fighting for our lives … Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT-UP, Gran Fury, Queer Nation … those groups defined an edge while others of us were working from the middle. I hunkered down in a dysfunctional, largely monogamous and always safer-sex relationship.  

It wasn’t all bleak.. there were doctors, nurses, hospitals, friends, family and neighbors who stepped through their fears to help… early confrontations led to lasting friendships… like that of Larry Kramer and Anthony Fauci… and eventually drugs, very very expensive drugs, that hold the virus in check (another soapbox for another time).

During that time, it was the plays - Larry Kramer’s Normal Heart, David Drake’s The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey, Tony Kushner’s blockbuster Angels in America that really spoke to me, in the communal space of a theater, in reading them out loud to myself. A place to cry in public without having to explain or interact or accept unwanted consolation. A way to cry in the sanctuary of my home. A catharsis.

There is a long tradition of communities creating quilts. The Names Project/AIDS Quil was a way to grieve together. I never made panels for friends who died, attended few funerals, keeping much of the details in the abstract, keeping much of the dying at a distance - while also visibly advocating for safer sex, for public health, for broader understanding, wearing a red rhinestone ribbon (we are FABULOUS).

The unveiling of the AIDS Quilt on the national mall in 1987 was heart wrenching and grounding - a sea of weeping people as we walked among the panels, a vast field of loss and love and remembering. It was near the Vietnam Memorial with its polished black granite wall of names, descending into the earth, another place of communal mourning, another naming of the dead.

Moments of “Enough!” Stonewall was one moment of “we’re not going to take this any more”.  Matthew Shepard’s brutal beating death was another “we’re too good at this public mourning and protest, this has to be a turning point for real change” (it would be another 20 years before the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act became law). And then mass murder at Pulse (lost in a wave of mass killings, in magazine offices in Paris, in synagogues in the US, in churches, in mosques, in schools, at concerts, …). 

There was a brief time of delusion between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers when global peace seemed imminent (let’s ignore Bosnia, let’s ignore Rwanda, let’s ignore police killing of blacks and the mass incarceration of multiple generations).


The music.. of the bar, the disco, the concert hall, to be danced to, sung in the shower, … the music of gay and lesbian bands, of ballard singers creating a new oral history, the Men’s and Women’s (and sometimes broadly LGBTQ) Choruses in cities large and small. Celebrating all of life. 

Making Art

In the past year or two, I have worked on a few art projects that address my many heritages, many losses, seeking deeper understanding, personal healing, and keeping a history alive.

They include: 

Pink Triangle Portraits - drawings of the men in the signature photograph of homosexuals lined up in a concentration camp.. to see them as individuals.. to imagine their life before.. and how they became a symbol for future generations to rally around.

Rough Raw Reclaimed - a zine of personal archival photographs (and a couple from public archives) with accompanying text to tell my story of a personal and cultural journey.

To Hold Infinity - the grief of a friend at the sudden death of his beloved wife led to a folded paper altar.

Picasso’s Guernica - not my art making, but Picasso’s. The progression of his response to the mass killings at Guernica is chronicled in the series of dated drawings and photographs of the work in progress, offering insights into the artistic process, one human's response to the actions of other humans. The effort and evolution of finding form to convey ideas and emotions. 

Queering Death - An Anthology of Questions

These musings were written for a reading group led by Kean O'Brien, Exploring Grief, Death and Trauma. They came from considering this anthology of questions: 

QUEERING DEATH: An Anthology of Questions is a workbook featuring questions compiled from the first Queering Death cohort. Use this anthology of questions as prompts for journaling, in conversations with loved ones, as an edgy ice-breaker, as demands to elected officials, in affinity groups, or however you see fit.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

I Hope

Sting and I are roughly the same age. I have a resonance with his music, especially his lyrics, that speaks to the times of my life. When I was at a Buddhist retreat program in 2000, he arrived by helicopter for a private meeting with the meditation master. 

There's No Such Thing As A Winnable War

This morning I was prompted by an app to listen to a new release by Sting. It brought me to tears. Again?

A Russian invasion of Ukraine. Endless wars in so many places. Endless killings. Why do we persist in this violent behavior? 

How is it that 47 years after this song was first released, we are still in the MAD* politics of state terrorism?

How does Sting, or anyone, maintain their hope to make a difference? How might we, yet again, step back from further bloodshed? How else might power play out? 

from Variety (and elsewhere)

A plea for our common humanity

... there's a growing feeling of hysteria

... How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy?

... what might save us, me and you


Sting Website: https://www.sting.com/news/title/wwwhelpukrainecenteren

Donate/Volunteer for Ukraine - https://helpukraine.center/

New Release Audio - https://sting.lnk.to/Russians

New Release Video - https://youtu.be/6w3037nq23o

Friday, March 25, 2022

Hypar SIP Mobile

Larry Wolf, Hypar SIP Mobile (2022)

Larry Wolf, Hypar SIP Mobile (2022)

Larry Wolf, Hypar SIP Mobile (2022)

Celebrating sequences, iterations and permutations with the mathemagic of folded paper hyperbolic paraboloid approximations.

Hyde Park Art Center, April 23 - July 23, 2022 / Curated by Jasper Goodrich

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Oscar yi Hou

Oscar yi Hou, Coolieisms, aka: Sly Son Goku, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Oscar yi Hou, Cowboy Kato Coolie, aka: Bruce’s Bitch, 2021.
Photo by Jason Mandella. Courtesy of the artist and James Fuentes.

Oscar yi Hou, Fire Snake of El Barrio, aka: Sunflower, 2021.
Photo by Jason Mandella. Courtesy of the artist and James Fuentes.

Oscar yi Hou, Forlorn fire-escape flowers, aka_ New York strings of life, 2020.
Photo by Jason Mandella. Courtesy of the artist and James Fuentes.

At Columbia, yi Hou critically examined the country’s nation-building myths and histories of westward expansion. Research into stories of cowboys and coolies fueled new threads in his paintings, which continue to be complicated by notions of desire and queer kinship. In school, yi Hou also became more critical of his intentions to paint underrepresented people, of what he described as “a simplistic representational politics.” He was questioning his role as a sort of spokesperson when he read about Trinh T. Minh-ha’s deliberate framework of “speaking nearby” rather than “speaking about.” The filmmaker’s approach to ethnography has since been a grounding ethos for his practice. “When I was first reading all these texts and encountering all these thinkers, I was like, ‘Shit, I’m not going to represent anyone ever again. Like, is this violent?’” yi Hou said. “Trinh T. Minh-ha was a lifejacket, a rubber ring.”

Artsy Editorial by Claire Voon, March 14, 2022

Friday, March 18, 2022

Voices Transformed

When I was in college, my friends loved my parents, thought them so supportive. I, on the other hand, felt like they were always in me, offering their uninvited opinions, that I was constantly navigating my desire to be my own person, to discover who I was, free of their comments, free of needing their acceptance. They represented the social norms. I was harboring an inner queer boy needing a place to revel in.

On the drive home from helping empty out my mother's apartment, in the bleak woods of western Pennsylvania along I-80, I had a glimpse that my parents, now both deceased, were newly a font of truly unconditional love. What a relief. What a blessing!

It is also true that each of them, in their final days, said things that were outside the push-pull of parents and children. My father told me that my work in the world was important. My mother told me how wonderful my latest zine was. Each from their perspective, an elder seeing me whole.

The parental voices in my head, that have haunted me since childhood, are transformed. They are now angelic, harps at a distance, not harpies attacking me, eating my liver. Like the woods along the road, they are the passing scenery, the non-specific mummer of a river, the stream of life. Mixed metaphors are about right. 

The future awaits.

Larry Wolf, Love (1992, linoleum block print on Valentine card)

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Lost and Found

Larry Wolf, Treasure Box (2022)

Larry Wolf, Treasure Box (2022)

Larry Wolf, Treasure Box (2022)

This box of slides was believed lost. It was found while emptying out my mother's apartment. Soon they will be scanned. Family history reclaimed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Too Much Coffee Not Enough Time

Emails with Stephen

Feels like too much coffee and not enough time these days. 

Remember when you used to ... 

Larry Wolf, Duffle (2017)

Ha.. I remember that guy...

... and our wonder filled time in San Francisco five (!) years ago ... planning for Courage Labs, the chat bot, Wisdom 2.0, morning practice sessions, walking and eating and living, discovering a book of essays by Rebecca Solnit in a neighborhood bookstore. Then flying off to a conference in Orlando.. all of that after a month on staff at a Karme Choling dathun.

Larry Wolf, Karme Choling 360 (2017)

I miss that guy.. I'm in a kind of mourning for him and his dreams.. 

Larry Wolf, Flying (2017)

While I play with color, shape and math magic

Larry Wolf, SIP Logo Hypar Permutations (2022)

Thanks for inviting that guy to the conversation