Saturday, September 24, 2022

Art Making Purgatory

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Printing t-shirts has become an exhausting challenge - logistically, technically and emotionally - much more than I imaged it would be. The phone photo looks more like what I want than the actual t-shirt. Learning. Learning. Learning. 

Monday, July 25, 2022


Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

I'm working on a silkscreen for a black t-shirt. The source images include two photos taken on/from the Metra Electric platform at 51st, an image from the JWST a million miles away; the text is inspired by an essay in Ten Years of Chances Dances (a queer party that spanned ten years and resulted in a catalog which I came across this week)... the essay by John Neff and Lorelei Stewart references a quote from Chances: "temporary utopias are time machines"... which is kind of fascinating.

I hear echoes of an essay by Ocean Vuong about fire escapes as a place where we have necessary and challenging conversations. The font is Be Oakley's Act Up Protest font... and it's all a riff on the art of queer failure... or the queer art of failure... or the failed queer agenda... or ??? ;-)

There's a further personal commentary about the fracturing of visions for a better future, the ground becoming unstable as institutions fail and the ripples that each of us makes as we walk through our lives. It's all transient. This is the third or fourth iteration. 

For now, no t-shirts, though several very nice prints on black paper. Pretty good for a first time ;-)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022, silkscreen)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Larry Wolf, Transient Utopias (2022)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Filter Members Exhibition 2022

I submitted this work to V: the Annual Filter Members Exhibition

Larry Wolf, Washington University Track 1946 (2022)

Six hurdlers are all airborne in a photo by my father from 1946. Each athlete, or in one case, three of them, has been cropped from the full image and printed individually. Each sheet can be folded into a hyperbolic paraboloid, informally called a hypar, a surprisingly curved shape constructed from nested squares. Here the hypars are suspended, moving with the air currents.

This work continues my interest in how photographs incorporate time, the moment of exposure with the athletes all in the air, the moments of viewing – the photographer’s and subjects’ now, the viewers' now, the artist as an intermediary time machine.

The source photograph was found recently with other slides from 1946 to 1957 – a lost family archive found as we emptied my deceased mother's apartment, a survivor of a nasty divorce. My father spoke with longing for his student days at W. U. – the image exudes youthful energy years after his death – as desaturated images, the people become ghosts in the light and dark of the hypar’s folds.

Like my other works, these are single sheets of paper, folded according to a set of rules that creates a three-dimensional object. Folding adds human touch to mechanical reproduction. Copies of the work are available for the viewer to take. The act of folding is centering, requiring patience, attention and caring, allowing the form to emerge. It invites the audience into an active intimacy, participating in creating the work.

For more info, see my page DIY SIP Hypar Zine.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

House Divided

Bruce Nauman, House Divided (1983)
Photo Larry Wolf (2022)

Bruce Nauman, House Divided (1983)
Photo Larry Wolf (2022)

Nauman draws on his roots for the form of this sculpture, a large white building typical of Midwestern farming sheds. Yet inside, the structure has been divided in half, diagonally. The carefully considered placement of three entries creates an uncomfortable space with no corners. Fully half of the structure has been rendered useless. 

Dick Burd,
Construction of House Divided (1984)
CARLI Digital Collection

By associating the piece through its title with Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided speech, the artist forces a consideration of the significance of this unassuming work on a new level.

Governors State University

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


At the edge of the Atlantic, a slip of land, open ocean all the way to the horizon and beyond, as fragile as a sand castle between high tides. Paths through the underbrush of a gay cruising ground, seeking to find and to be found in the safety of invisibility. 

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Larry Wolf, Fire Island (2004)

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Desire Lines - The Gaps

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

Larry Wolf,
Desire Lines Exhibition Catalog
on display in the Art Institute Gift Shop

What is the artist's desire? 

In the exhibition, Desire Lines, there is a richness of layering

woven surfaces with depth of material

manufactured surfaces worn through the activity of lives lived

geographies traversed one step at a time across terrain with no official path

structures draped in fabric

the work of teams sharing meals, sharing stories, sharing their lives

the visual echos of clouds of dust 

the placement of works in an exhibition 

It is all abstract except for two roses at opposite ends of the gallery, facing each other, an early bloom and a later bloom, symbols of the divine present in our lives, a reminder of the thorns present with beauty.

Knowing Everything or Nothing 

How would you treat someone differently if you knew everything about them? Or nothing?  Igshaan Adams

The exhibition catalogue is explosive in its specifics where the exhibition leaves so much unnamed. 

It overflows with the words of queer artists, beginning and ending with poems by Ocean Vuong. The opening essay  A World, Revealed identifies the artist as a queer Muslim man. The acknowledgments thank his life partner. There is an essay by a queer imam. And more. 

What do we know of the lives of these people? What are their specific joys and fears? What lines do they make across the landscape of their lives? Of our lives?

Visible and Hidden

Does it matter that we put labels on ourselves? On other people? Does it matter how the artist lives or only how the art lands in us, the viewer, the museum goer, the art collector? Do the wall texts and catalogue essays enrich the experience? Or take us away from the experience?

Does the artist,  the contributing writers, curators, put their lives at risk by being public? Are they being honored by this visibility? Do they have freedom in the world of the exhibition that they do not have at home?

Igshaan Adams, I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known ... (2016)
at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

This work emerges from two questions I faced earlier in my career: How do I represent myself (a metaphorical and also literal concern, as I am a Muslim and Islam's visual tradition prohibits figuration)? And what is the role of creativity in my practice? The analogy of water came to me, especially how, over time, dripping water brings forth moss, which grows and expands. This is how creativity operates, too. Everything is connected to and emerges from its energy. You cannot remove yourself from it, whether it's making a sandwich, putting together an outfit, or producing an artwork. I approached this work through that analogy of water and moss and started to visualize the creation process that surrounds us all through the texture of landscape.
Igshaan Adams, 
I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known, 
Art Institute of Chicago exhibition text (2022)

The Exhibition

The Exhibition Catalogue

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Physical Culture

Larry Wolf, Physical Culture (2022)

I'm taking an online art history class from the Barnes Foundation: Sexuality and the Modern Male Body taught by Ty Vanover. This week's talk is London: Victorian Sculpture and the Virile Male Nude with a suggested reading by Michael Hatt, “Physical Culture: the Male Nude and Sculpture in Late Victorian Britain.”

Physical Culture is alive and well. It wasn't just a late 19th/early 20th Century phenomena - the muscular male body was seen as normative, wholesome and presumed heterosexual. While some of us (that would be me), counter this through a queer lens, the muscular male body is sexual and can be viewed as such. It is also a myth-busting reality that manly men can be gay just as femme men can be heterosexual. 

Which is to say nothing about this moving company, other than to smile at the continued pairing of mind and body.

Note that H. U. N. K. S. is an acronym for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service. A continued redirection from the sexual to the intellectual. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Bridge to Now

The narrative from my application to the Bridge program at the Hyde Park Art Center, to be curated by Jory Drew.

What I Might Get

I imagine the Bridge Program as a mini-residency and mentorship, a time to focus on one project, to challenge myself to go as deep and far as I can in the five weeks, to participate with others on a similar adventure, to take myself seriously (but not too seriously) as an artist.

I want to learn from the other artists and from the program curator - How do they make their art? How do they incorporate their lived experience? How do they create space for their viewer/audience to engage on their own terms? 

I am currently working with the imagery in The Bull, a poem by Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese-American Buddhist. I’ve been making watercolors and drawings based on that. There is a mix of desire, longing, fear, and loss in the poem, as we enter into a not knowing, heightened sexual awareness and vulnerability. There’s also a thousand-year history of ox herding as a Buddhist teaching metaphor of the search for enlightenment and living after enlightenment. It’s traditionally a combination of woodblock prints and poetic commentary. Bulls and oxen have a long European history as well, from bullfight to minotaur. I am engaging with this as a drawing and watercolor exercise, where does my mark making take me? And also as a conceptual research into the culture of bulls and oxen.

Larry Wolf, Bull (2022)

I expect the Bridge Program will bring a few surprises and discoveries about myself and the work I’m making.

What I Might Offer

I bring a curiosity about how others see the world, how they make sense of it, how they make their art. I bring a commitment to listen closely to what is said and listen deeply for the message beneath the words. I am both an outsider and an insider. We will be finding our personal truths by working together to understand who we are.

I have taught contemplative photography courses which emphasize looking closely at images, for what they contain and for what they evoke in each of us. I bring this openness to look and see, to making, viewing and discussing artwork. 

I have training and years of experience as a mentor and coach, teaching meditation, leading advisory committees, working with nonprofits as a volunteer and board member. I have taught collaboratively and found ways for groups to move forward while acknowledging differences. 

I am a retired married gay white male Buddhist born Jewish former technology executive. I didn’t think I’d make it to my current age of 70 - many of those identities might have killed me - from gay bashing, from AIDS, from anti-semitism, from a family history of early deaths. Some of those identities gave me privilege - a masters in computer science, a job with a national healthcare provider, and, clearly, being white. They have shaped who I am and what I bring.

A Work That Works

To Hold Infinity

The work is an altar made from a sheet of 8 ½ x 14 paper, printed front and back, folded to be freestanding. Light passes through it, in a kind of radiance, as well as reflects off of its surfaces. 

The impetus was the sudden death of a friend’s wife, his grief and yearning for continued connection with her. He asked if angels needed fire to get to heaven, as a reframing of her request to be cremated. He felt her spirit in the waves on the beach and the quiet of a moonrise.

The work combines photographs of a solar eclipse, a full moon and a nuclear explosion, with my own drawings of hands which cradle the cosmos, the angels which populate our world. They are manipulated in Photoshop and through risograph printing, with the final version produced on the laser printer at a local copy center. 

The paper is folded as a variation on an 8-page mini-booklet zine, modified to be viewed without turning the pages. It is a descendant of the portable folding triptych shrine. The title is from the poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake (To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour).

Larry Wolf, To Hold Infinity (2021)

This webpage provides more information and shows the evolution of the work:

Artist Statement

I create works as a self-discovery process and to share that with others. For the past year, I’ve been making zines and three-dimensional works from single sheets of paper. I want the work to be touched and manipulated, sometimes with a DIY component, not kept at a distance as something too pure to be handled. My work combines drawing and watercolor as well as new and archival photographs.

In addition to zines, other paper-based and photographic traditions inform my work: origami, calling cards, snapshots. The work lives at the intersection of small-scale mechanical reproduction and hand crafted unique objects. The resulting object is ephemeral and strong, easily mailed, easily recycled, possibly archival. They are passed among friends as part of a shared experience.

The process of creation is a personal unpacking/repacking of aspects of my white gay male jewish buddhist technologist life. I lean into the potential for queerness and shield myself in the ordinary. I combine my history with the current moment - the long shadows of AIDS, the Holocaust, colonialism/racism - the recent deaths of my parents and the end my corporate career - the exuberant days of early Gay Liberation and the quiet joys of a walk with my husband. There is an undercurrent of grief, of loss, and also of new life and celebration, a firebird arising from the ashes, a wolf in sheep's clothing, an irritating grain of sand around which a pearl forms.


Larry Wolf, SIP-Mobile (2022)
SIP Installation 2022

Larry Wolf, Angels (2021)
SIP Installation 2022

Larry Wolf, Zines (2021)
SIP Installation 2022

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


Larry Wolf, Cloudless Spring Ginkgo (2022)

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there can be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Other Shore

Thich Nhat Hanh,
The Other Shore (2017)

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)

Art Institute of Chicago - Igshaan Adams, Desire Lines

Casey Kaplan Gallery - Igshaan Adams

New York Times - Art That Finds Clarity in South Africa’s Fraught Terrain

Soutbank Centre - In the Green Room - Igshaan Adams (video)

National Arts Festival - How I work - Igshaan Adams SBYA18 (video)

Nowness - Private View: Igshaan Adams (video, included at the beginning of the E.A.T. video)

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

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

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)