January 10, 2018

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Art Historian Finds Missing Monet Painting Through a Google Search
After 12 Years, a Trove of Stolen Hans Hofmann Paintings Has Been Recovered
Edvard Munch’s World Without Pity
Drunk Woman Allegedly Destroyed Trump Fundraiser's Warhol Art on First Date
Kenosha art shop feeds local residents' pencil obsessions
Utah Schoolteacher Fired for Showing Postcards of Nude Paintings in Art Class
Painting past 100 years: Posner’s Art Store remains a Tucson fixture






Art Historian Finds Missing Monet Painting Through a Google Search
Believed to have been missing since 1895, Monet’s painting “Effet de Brouillard” (1872) will soon go on view.

A Claude Monet painting, believed to have been missing since 1895, has resurfaced and will go on view in a forthcoming exhibition on the French Impressionist at the National Gallery in London. “Effet de Brouillard” (1872), a somber depiction of the countryside in Argenteuil, near Paris, was recently found by art historian Richard Thomson, who conducted a simple Google search to solve this puzzle.

Thomson, a professor of fine art at the University of Edinburgh, had originally seen the painting as printed in a 1996 catalogue raisonné as well as in the book Monet at Argenteuil, but no one seemed to have known where the artwork actually resided for much of its life. The catalogue raisonné had listed it as being in a private collection, according to The Guardian. Thomson, who is curating the exhibition Monet & Architecture, set to open at the National Gallery next April, was keen on including the landscape, as he was interested in paintings that depict architecture masked by natural features such as foliage or the weather.

“Quite simply I found it on Google, saw that it had passed through an antique dealer/auction house in New Orleans, contacted them, and they quickly got in touch with the owner, who — again, quickly — responded positively to the exhibition, for which I am most grateful,” Thomson told Hyperallergic.

He also found out that the painting had been sold in London in 2007, in an anonymous sale at Christie’s, and with little fanfare, for £412,000 (~$550,000 US). The auction house’s website notes that Galerie Durand-Ruel, which operated in Paris between 1833 and 1974, had acquired the painting from Monet in February of 1873. The last time it was exhibited was in 1895, at Durand-Ruel Galleries in New York, before it passed through the hands of a number of private owners.

The scene of Argenteuil, where Monet lived between 1871 and 1878, is one of over 180 paintings he produced during that period. Come next spring, the muted view of fields, with one factory chimney spewing smoke in the distance, will be on public display once more, among 74 other paintings Thomson has selected. Hyperallergic


After 12 Years, a Trove of Stolen Hans Hofmann Paintings Has Been Recovered
Art Recovery International says the theft was an inside job.

A trove of stolen paintings by Abstract Expressionist master Hans Hofmann has been recovered by agency Art Recovery International, more than a decade after they were stolen from a fine art storage space in Manhattan.

The five paintings, worth just over $500,000, were last seen at Cirkers Hayes warehouse in 2003. The works were owned by a trust known as the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust. (Cirkers Hayes became part of Crozier Fine Arts at the start of 2017, according to an announcement on the company’s website.)

According to a release from Art Recovery, the thefts were an inside job by a longtime Cirkers caretaker, John Rett, who “used the storage facility as his personal shopping center, removing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth” of paintings and sculptures and selling them through venues—including auction houses, galleries, and art dealers—all over the world.

Rett was reportedly the trust’s main point of contact during the time that the works went missing.

This isn’t the first time the caretaker was linked to stolen art. According to information from Art Recovery International, Rett was arrested by the New York City Police Department in 2004 after he was caught trying to sell several sculptures at Christie’s in London as well as at an unnamed New York City gallery. The sculptures were taken from Cirkers storage facility.

Art Recovery says the sculptures were recovered and returned to Cirkers but that police closed the criminal case without executing a search warrant on Rett’s residence. Rett received what seems to be an incredibly light sentence of 10 days in jail. He also had a petty larceny request on his record from 1975, according to a Daily News report on the theft of the sculptures.

As for the Hofman paintings, one of the artist’s works led to the recovery of the others. In 2016, Hofmann’s The Artist was consigned for sale at Heritage Auctions New York, but it went unsold. The same work was then consigned to Swann Galleries this year, where it was retrieved by Art Recovery.

After further investigation, the Swann consignor, who is reportedly a New York City dealer, was persuaded to come forward with four more stolen Hofmann works, which he eventually released to Art Recovery. The agency says a sixth Hofmann work, titled Arcanum, is still missing.

“I’ve seen this all before,” said Art Recovery International CEO Christopher Marinello in a statement. “A classic case of all too often repeated insider theft on a grand scale. Thieves take advantage of the so-called legitimate distribution network for stolen artwork and the lack of interest in serious due diligence by the art trade.” Marinello says he still sees a reluctance by the trade to “pay the cost of proper due diligence out of fear that it will get in the way of earning a profit.”

At publication time, there was no word of Rett’s current whereabouts or whether he has been charged with or arrested for the theft.

The current auction record for Hofmann is $8.9 million, set at Christie’s New York last month for Lava (1960), which carried an estimate of $4 million to $6 million. To date, more than 25 Hofmann works have sold for more than $1 million each, according to the artnet Price Database. More than 900 works by Hofmann have come to auction. artnetnews


Edvard Munch’s World Without Pity
Munch absorbed avant-garde styles but never became an avant-garde artist.

There are seven people in the room, with six of them divided into two groups of three, while the seventh rises like an extra appendage from the shoulder of the one person who is facing us. No one is looking at anyone else in the room. A bald man and a woman, with her hair in a bun, are standing in the upper right hand corner. They hover around a wooden backed chair, which angles away from the viewer, and its unseen occupant. While there are multiple focal points in the painting, the one fixed on the chair is the most important.

The painting, “Death in the Sick Room” (1893) is one of 43 works – including 16 self-portraits, or what the artist called “self-scrutinies” — that comprise the exhibition, Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, at The Met Breuer (November 15, 2017 – February 4, 2018).

Painted between 1884 and 1943, when Munch finished his last major work, “Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed” (1940-43), these works address the major themes for which this melancholy artist has become known. They are also done in a range of styles: Naturalism, Impressionism, Symbolism, and Expressionism, which influenced a generation of German artists in the first decades of the 20th century.

While Munch is most famously identified with the two pastels and two paintings, as well as the lithographs, titled ”The Scream,” which were done between 1893 and 1910, he is difficult to characterize by style, as opposed to Pablo Picasso or Vincent van Gogh. The other thing that is important to stress is that in some deep and profound way, Munch had always been a bit out of touch with the times; he may have influenced others but he never quite fit in. This is because, while many artists have been appropriated to buttress a narrative emphasizing the move toward pure painting, and paint as paint, Munch was a relentless experimenter in the medium of paint who never sought to make it pure or objective. He seems never to have been remotely interested in attaining objectivity or universality.

This means that Munch never tried to join the club concerned with the progress of art and where it should go next. He absorbed avant-garde styles but never seems to have been that interested in becoming an avant-garde artist. All sorts of reasons for his refusal to become a joiner have been advanced, with many writers emphasizing the devastating effect of family tragedies, especially the death of his 15-year-old sister Sophie when the artist was a teenager, and this is no doubt true. However, I think more credit should be given to Munch for doing the right thing and refusing to join, and for not denying a fundamental aspect of modern human experience, which is the feeling of solitude and isolation that we all endure to a greater or lesser degree throughout our lives.

In “Death in the Sick Room,” this is what the six people share: their isolation in the face of impending death. That feeling of being completely cut off from other humans, and being unable to effectively communicate with them, haunts his paintings. It also leads him to make some of the most unsettling and challenging depictions of the artist and his model — a relatively traditional subject — to be found in art history. Along with the 16 self-portraits, the show includes two paintings of Munch and one of his models; these, along with three paintings of nude models, comprise a subset within the exhibition.

In “Weeping Nude” (1913-14), Munch depicts a woman sitting on a bed, her legs open and awkwardly posed, while her head is bent forward, her long tresses covering her face. We see one hand, partially hidden by her hair, raised to her eyes. The woman is animal-like and, at the same time, unreachable and inconsolable. We know that this state of extreme emotion exists, and that it has often been dressed up and presented in a sentimental or palatable version, but that is not the case here. Munch may have made the painting, and in that regard been in control, but he recognizes that power has its limits.

In one of the two paintings titled “The Artist and His Model” (1919-21), Munch depicts himself on the painting’s left side, closer to the middle: he is standing, facing the viewer, legs apart and hands thrust in his trouser pockets. His shoulders are slightly hunched and his head is jutting forward. Is it in defiance or anger? The brushwork is so minimal that we cannot discern the expression on his face, which invites further speculation on the viewer’s part. A woman is standing behind the artist, on the right side of the painting, near the unmade bed. She is wearing a blue robe and, like the woman in “Weeping Nude,” we cannot see her face, which is obscured by her hair. The extreme pose of her head, which is looking down, turns it into something cold, almost reptilian.

It is easy to read this painting as a struggle for power between men and women, vis-à-vis Michel Foucault, but that simplifies the visual evidence that Munch presents us. I think the painting is more unsettling than any narrative we can apply to it. We can surmise what happened before the moment depicted by the artist — they were lovers in bed together — but knowing that does not domesticate the image. By turning her otherness into something that is unapproachable and impenetrable, while depicting himself in a pose that seems angry and defeated, Munch evokes a world without any tenderness or intimacy, whatever happened before. And yet, he does not invite our sympathy or pity, or even hint at any sense of sorrow over such a recognition. He offers no palliatives, and that is what is most unsettling about the painting, its detached sense that this is what a relationship looks like. Whether we agree with him or not is beside the point. Munch offers no comfort in the painting because, at best, comfort is a placebo. To his credit, Munch refuses to put his work in the category of panacea.

Munch’s refusal to make charming or accommodating paintings isn’t about trying to be outrageous or shocking – which are avant-garde gambits — but about recognition and acceptance. In “Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed” (1943), made in the midst of World War II, after Adolph Hitler had declared him a “degenerate artist” and ordered his work removed from museums, Munch depicts a thin man who has just stepped outside his well-lit yellow studio into a slightly darker room. To the man’s left is a faceless grandfather clock, tucked behind the open studio door.

The door’s vertical edge both separates and joins the man and grandfather clock. To the man’s right is a bed with a red and blue striped coverlet. Above the bed, tucked into the corner made by the open studio door, we see a full-length work of wraith-like gray nude standing demurely on an abstract field, one leg slightly behind the other, with hands clasped behind her back. The artist’s eyes are sockets, as if he is blind. He is at attention, feet pointing outward, hands at his side.

As Munch was working on this painting, he was also preparing his will, which would bequeath his estate to the city of Oslo. He was a celebrated artist, but in the grander scheme evoked by this painting, his status comes across as unimportant. A softer, older man has replaced the one who was defiant and angry, or grief stricken, or confident and thoughtful, in the earlier works. The faceless clock is counting down, while the bed awaits him. Behind him is his accomplishment, a room full of art. You become the things you made, nothing more and nothing less. There is no guarantee that they will be saved, much less remembered, looked at, or thought about.

Standing between the clock and the bed, Munch recognizes that he is at the threshold, and about to cross over. Before he does, he ponders the place he has reached: significantly, it is not in his studio, which offers no sanctuary but does allow you to shape your passage through time. Munch does not let us know how he feels about what he has done. We see a work on the wall behind, a presiding spirit, but we cannot see it clearly. He has not relied on an avant-garde style to save him or present the painting. For the moment, he is waiting for eternity to begin.

Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed continues at the Met Breuer (945 Madison Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan) through February 4, 2018. Hyperallergic


Drunk Woman Allegedly Destroyed Trump Fundraiser's Warhol Art on First Date
A Dallas court reporter allegedly caused $300,000 in damage after tearing down some Andy Warhol paintings and pouring wine all over them.

HOUSTON, TX: While most people have their fair share of first-date horror stories, most of us have the luxury of pretending they never happened and moving on with our lives. A Texas court reporter, however, did not fare as lucky and is now facing felony criminal mischief charges after allegedly getting drunk and destroying $300,000 of her date's high-end art collection.

According to CBS affiliate KHOU, Lindy Lou Layman, 29, went out on a disastrous first date with prominent Houston attorney and Trump fundraiser Anthony Buzbee last weekend before the two ended up back at Buzbee's $14 million mansion. Things apparently started to go downhill when Buzbee called his date an Uber. Layman, who Buzbee says was drunk, allegedly refused to leave and started to scream obscenities before going on an art-destroying rampage.

After Buzbee called Layman a second Uber, she allegedly destroyed three of Buzbee's expensive paintings—including two original $500,000 Warhols—and poured red wine all over them, the Dallas News reports. She then allegedly threw two sculptures—valued at $20,000 a pop—across the room, according to the criminal complaint.

"She also pulled a Renoir and a Monet off the wall," Buzbee told Texas Lawyer. "Luckily those weren’t damaged."

Layman, who ended up causing around $300,000 worth of damage, was arrested on felony criminal mischief charges and taken to jail. She's now out after posting her $30,000 bail.

Buzbee, who once fought with his Home Owners's Association after parking a $600,000 World War II tank outside his house, reportedly disavowed Trump after the infamous Access Hollywood tape dropped. According to Texas Lawyer, he donated $500,000 to the president's inauguration committee weeks after condemning Trump's comments.

According to BuzzFeed News, Buzbee is still listed on Facebook as being single. It's not clear if he and Layman will be going out on a second date. Vice


Kenosha art shop feeds local residents' pencil obsessions

KENOSHA, WI: In a world where many are obsessed with the latest iPhone, it might seem impossible that there’s a small but vigorous group glorying in the use of the simplest of communication tools — the pencil.

But here in Kenosha, there are so many pencil fans that Chet Griffith of Artworks, 4513 Sheridan Road, has devoted a special section of his store to pencil devotees. He calls it the Pencillarium.

“People walk in and they stop and they sort of snicker and shrug and say, ‘Pencils?’” Griffith said. “But then they stop and look and try them out…”

Artworks sells more than a hundred different kinds of pencils. Some are antiques, from 1980s Soviet pencils to $7.50 Schwan Notabenes from the 1920s to $8.25 Eagle Mikados manufactured in the United States before World War II. Others are new pencils, including the extremely popular Blackwing pencils.

“The Blackwings are the gateway drug to pencils,” Griffith said.

It’s hard to explain what makes these pencils so alluring. Some are completely round, some hexagonal. Some are coated with enamel; others are bare wood. Some are skinny, some are fat. Some have hard tips while others make soft lines. As a practical matter, a very nice pencil often stays sharper longer and can be more comfortable to hold.

“You don’t realize your pencil is good or bad until you’ve had a good one,” Griffith said.

But what is it exactly that turns some people into addicts? The Pencillarium has a box filled with index cards listing which pencils have been purchased by local pencil fans. Carthage art professor Diane Levesque is one of them.

“Pencils are about slowing down the pace of life,” Levesque said. “We are overwhelmed in the digital age. People constantly have their phones on. But pencils are an old-fashioned communication method. They slow down time.”

Levesque also loves the way pencils make you feel.

“When you use a pencil, your senses are awakened. The smell of the pencil. The sound of the pencil scratching on the paper,” she said. “You write differently with a pencil. You feel the softness. You are conscious of the speed.”

Levesque loves giving pencils away, and that generosity is made easier by the low cost of this obsession. Unlike some other collectibles, pencils are relatively inexpensive and accessible. The most expensive baseball cards go for millions of dollars; the most sought-after pencil in the world costs $900, while most go for $2 to $10.

“You could come in here and get three or four really good pencils for $10,” Griffith said. “It’s a fairly reasonable hobby.”

The pencil’s appeal even extends to younger Kenosha residents who have grown up in a digital world. Aspiring artist Alex Rothwell, 14, might be the only person in the eighth grade at Harborside Academy to be happy that she got pencils for her recent birthday.

“They were graphite Prismacolors and they are so great,” she said. They’re now part of a collection of pencils she started in the third grade with a big chest of art supplies. “A pencil is the first art tool you use.”

Carthage junior and art major Haley Schrock of Fort Wayne, Ind., said one of her favorite pencils is the Kimberly. But her favorite is the Prismacolor Turquoise 9B, a very soft pencil.

“Pencils are one of those small thing that you can enjoy for fun or make a real hobby,” Schrock said. “Like airplanes. You can make a paper airplane right now and throw it and be done, or you can make model airplanes.”

Carthage junior and graphic design major Samantha Payton of Sugar Grove, Ill., said that she likes weird pencils and Blackwings. She also enjoys pencils that are antiques.

“There are so many different kinds of pencils. Ones that are from World War II. With the old pencils, you can come up with a story behind it,” Payton said. Kenosha News



SANTA FE, NM: Chemical reactions are gradually darkening many of Georgia O'Keeffe's famously vibrant paintings, and art conservation experts are hoping new digital imaging tools can help them slow the damage.

Scientific experts in art conservation from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Chicago area announced plans this week to develop advanced 3-D imaging technology to detect destructive buildup in paintings by O'Keeffe and eventually other artists in museum collections around the world.

Dale Kronkright, art conservationist at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, said the project builds on efforts that began in 2011 to monitor the preservation of O'Keeffe paintings using high-grade images from multiple sources of light. That prevented taking physical samples that might damage the works.

Destructive buildup of soap can emerge as paintings age. It happens as fats in the original oil paints combine with alkaline materials contained in pigments or drying agents.

Tiny blisters emerge in the paint and turn into protrusions that resemble tiny grains of sand and can appear translucent or white. Thousands of the tiny blemishes can noticeably darken a painting.

"They're a little bit bigger than human hair, and you can see them with the naked eye," Kronkright said.

The creeping problem looms not only over O'Keeffe's iconic paintings of enlarged flowers and the New Mexico desert but also the vast majority of 20th century oil paintings in museums, in part because professional-grade canvases from the period were primed with nondrying fats or oils, Kronkright said.

To develop imaging technology that can assess the growth of the protrusions, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $350,000 to the O'Keeffe museum and a collaborative art-conservation center run by Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The project aims to create a web-based system that allows any art conservator to upload and analyze images of paintings in efforts to limit damage from soap formation.

Scientists still do not fully understand what triggers and speeds up the formation — though changes in temperature and humidity during transportation are prime suspects, Kronkright said.

The two-year project is likely to record paintings under light frequencies that stretch beyond the visible spectrum in search of clues about the chemical composition of paintings. In the past, gathering that information would mean removing a postage-stamp-sized chip from the works.

"It now gives us a way to analyze the entire painting without taking any destructive samples whatsoever," Kronkright said. "That's a really big deal."

O'Keeffe's work offers a special opportunity to unravel the mystery of soap formation because so much is known and preserved about the techniques and materials she used on more than 800 paintings spanning a six-decade career, allowing for controlled experiments.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum first grew alarmed about soap protrusions to its collection in 2011, when a traveling exhibit returned with visible damage that couldn't be linked to vibrations or jostling, Kronkright said.

"Left unchecked, they will continue to grow, both grow in number and grow in size — and in damaging effect," he said.

He estimates that five paintings in the museum's collection have obvious damage linked to soap formation, while 90 percent of all O'Keeffe paintings are susceptible. WSB Radio


Utah Schoolteacher Fired for Showing Postcards of Nude Paintings in Art Class
Apparently some parents think paintings by Ingres, Modigliani, and Boucher are “pornography.”

A fifth-grade teacher in Utah was fired last month for showing his students postcards of famous works of art, a few of them featuring nudes. The teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, Mateo Rueda, a visual artist and native Colombian, first moved to the area to study art at Utah State University.

Rueda told Salt Lake City’s Fox13 that he found the postcards, part of Phaidon’s Art Box set of 100 cards, in the school’s library. He decided to use them to teach a lesson about color theory, but he didn’t realize the eight boxes of postcards contained works that some students (and their parents) might deem inappropriate or offensive.

When students started snickering at Amedeo Modigliani’s “Iris Tree” (1916), François Boucher’s “Brown Odalisque” (1745), and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’s “The Valpinçon Bather” (1808), Rueda says he explained that the paintings were an important part of history. One of his students told Fox13 that her teacher said if they felt uncomfortable with certain paintings, they could take the cards back up to him and just look at the rest — including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”

A parent of one of Rueda’s students found out about the “incident,” going so far as to call the police and report the teacher for exposing children to “pornography.” (Who knows how they might have reacted had the class been studying modern art and getting into the work of Georgia O’Keeffe.) Rueda says the postcards were school property, so there’s no reason to blame him personally for bringing them into the classroom.

Fortunately, there were no charges filed against the teacher, but Rueda is still out of a job. A slew of letters have been sent to the editor of Logan, Utah’s Herald Journal newspaper in the teacher’s defense. Rueda told the newspaper that he is appealing his termination, but whether or not the school district takes him back remains to be seen. Hyperallergic


Army veteran uses art to cope with PTSD

MORGANTON, NC: It felt like a punch to the gut.

James Gillon stepped off the plane in 2009 and felt the dry Afghanistan heat bombard his 19-year-old face like an enemy attack. But even more than the heat, he felt uncertain and alone.

Why did I do this? What was I thinking? Why am I here?

“That was probably the first and last time I ever got to feel that,” Gillon said. “You barely have enough time to think so you don’t have time to feel.”

Now, at age 27 and living in Morganton, Gillon feels a lot. He can feel the physical scar on his ribs from his time in the Army and the emotional scars of how brutal war can be. But when the emotions get too strong or when the thoughts get too deep, he creates something — something new to feel.

Gillon, who was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after coming home from war, is a Morganton-based artist who has been creating both paintings and wooden art to cope with his disorder.

“ I couldn’t paint PTSD,” Gillon said. “I could not quantify it I don’t think. It’s a mix of a lot of things that people maybe aren’t so well aware of. Yes, there are triggers. Yes, it is constant. A lot of PTSD, for me at least, is an array of things.”

Gillon was diagnosed after returning to his Colorado base in February 2010 — after losing 10 comrades, after being blown up multiple times and after struggling to return to the United States because he had just spent months in Afghanistan doing what he loved to do.

He dropped from 178 pounds to 138 pounds over seven months, his physical test scores declined and he began going days without sleep. But on July 3, 2010, Gillon did something that helped him realize he needed help.

He was walking to his girlfriend’s car when the fireworks began going off to celebrate the holiday. And while the sound of a firework is distinct from the sound of a gun to someone who has spent time in war, he instinctively dove across the car, took her down and stayed on top of her until the sounds stopped. His actions caused $700 worth of damage to the car, he said.

“ And now we’re not going where we are going because I basically tackled this girl to the ground,” he said. “That was probably one of my big hints that OK, you need to do something with this. This is not constructive or anything. It’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Gillon entered a 21-day impatient rehabilitation program, but rehabilitation is not a cure, he said. He still deals with many of the symptoms. But in 2012, while living in Asheville, things began to click.

The person he was living with at the time had art supplies lying around. And at the same time, Gillon began turning on Bob Ross videos to help him fall asleep.

“ If you got 15 minutes for a nap, you put in a Bob Ross video, you’re out in three,” Gillon said. “Happy little trees and all that stuff put me to sleep. But I guess there’s some truth that you can put some headphones in and learn something while you sleep because two weeks later, I was like, “Yeah, I’m going to paint something.’ So I did.”

He started by following along with the videos but suddenly stopped to begin drawing tattoos. And once he did that for a while, he suddenly stopped again to return to painting.

“ I realized that every time I came back to whatever I was coming back to, it had improved,” Gillon said. “So my painting improved my drawing, my drawing improved my painting and all down the line. And this helped me realize I had my own style.”

If Gillon had to describe his style, he would call it a combination of modern street art and old-school Sailor Jerry tattoo. And this style developed while at Western Piedmont Community College, where he began studying art in 2014 on the GI Bill after his benefits were cut.

Classes taught him theories and what should and shouldn’t be done in a painting. However, Gillon said he likes to push the boundaries to try things that go against what is commonly accepted.

“ If it rubs you the wrong way, cool — it’s part of it,” Gillon said. “If you are kind of picking up what I was putting down, even better.”

And multiple people have been picking up on what he’s doing. Gillon said he has sold some of his paintings and that people have become interested in some of the woodwork he recently has been creating.

“ I don’t know what they are doing with it once they buy it,” Gillon said. “They could be burning it. But it’s kind of cool for people to appreciate the time or the message.”

And the time he puts into each painting varies. Sometimes he’ll come down to his basement where he works and spend just a few minutes. Sometimes, five hours will pass without him even knowing.

Gillon said the motivation to work comes from everywhere — perhaps a post on Facebook or a memory from war.

“ I come down here and get lost, and it can be any number of things that sends me down here,” Gillon said. “I’ll come down here and apply it, however that may be. Or I’ll come down here because I have nothing else to do. It’s kind of a nice catchall. If it’s cold, it’s raining, I’m bored, it’s snowing.”

Although his PTSD contributes to a lot of his art, the outcome rarely is directly related to war. Although, there is one exception.

One of Gillon’s favorite paintings has only been seen by himself and the people in his class, and it was created in response to a photo of a soldier he saw on Facebook.

The photo’s caption explained the poster’s frustration with a lawmaker who said an 18 year old could not responsibly vote, although someone can fight in a war at the same age.

“ I wanted (my painting to) look like nothing fit — like (the soldier’s) clothes didn’t fit him, his helmet is way too big, the rifle is huge in comparison to everything,” Gillon said. “I just wanted to give the sense that that was a kid fighting — not a man. Like, that was kind of how I saw myself when I went over there — I was a kid.”

And being a kid and having to fight for his life has affected Gillon in unimaginable ways.

It took a while for Gillon to realize that not every bag of trash on the road is a roadside bomb. It took a while to quit counting how many people are in the room, and he still sometimes believes that people who take turns behind him in their cars are following him.

“ Everybody stares at you like you are the village idiot (when you show signs of PTSD), and if you would remove the background that no one knows that you have, you are the village idiot,” Gillon said. “By the time they ask (what’s wrong), if they have the nerve to, in my scenario, I’ve removed myself already. And I think that’s what gets a lot of guys in trouble — they go home. And they continue the party by themselves at home.”

But when Gillon goes home, he has a canvas or a block of wood — he’s one of the lucky ones. And now that he has art, he maybe can encourage someone to deal with their disorders in a positive way, he said.

“I’ve got a scar from Afghanistan,” Gillon said. “I can remember that because I can see it — it’s something I can hold, I can touch. So now that I can transition out of that, I can now touch and hold, in my opinion, some cool things, some nice things, what I perceive as nice. If somebody else doesn’t (think they are nice), I don’t really care. This is for me.” The News Herald


Painting past 100 years: Posner’s Art Store remains a Tucson fixture

TUSCON, AZ: Few businesses have witnessed the centurial transformation of Tucson quite like Posner’s Art Store.

The University Avenue institution, founded in 1913 by the late Louie Posner, a sign painter looking to launch a store with the type of arcane art supplies that others overlooked—lives on to the modern day.

The store, which was sold by the Posner family three decades ago to Dick Brown, moved five years ago from its Park Avenue cornerstone shop to its current digs a stone’s throw from the UA campus.

The Brown family has maintained the store’s prominent position in Tucson’s art scene thanks to their unique collection of supplies and friendly disposition, according to current proprietor Emily Brown.

“I’ve been here forever, and I can talk all day long about any supply you have a question about and really know what the customer is looking for,” Brown said. “So, our customers can come in and know who we are, and they’ll know what kind of service they’re going to get, which definitely helps.”

The family maintains close with the University, as well as Pima Community College, supplying art materials and supplies to both institutions.

They’ve worked with generation after generation of artists in Southern Arizona, and believe their track record gives them the type of name recognition within the community as a whole to thrive in an ever-competitive marketplace, with online retailers like Amazon snatching customers.

“We’re friendly, and we’re here to help the community,” Brown said. “I couldn’t have a better job, I’ll tell you. When customers leave smiling, it’s what makes your day.”

Brown believes her store, and art in general, is important to the community, as they provide the supplies needed to allow people to express themselves creatively.

“Like I said, we’re all in this together,” she said. “And it’s nice when people are happy and pleased and getting to do what they want to do. I think art is good for the soul. Whether you’re good at it or not isn’t even the point. I think it’s something people can go home and relax and get away from their day and I think it’s good for you.”

Brown points to the community’s overwhelming support in helping the store move from Park to University Avenue in 2012 as evidence that their community-first mindset is working.

She remembered how complete strangers donated their time to helping arrange shelves and do a lot of the leg-work in setting up the new location, and how supportive the community as a whole was of her business.

“It was just really nice that the community really stuck by us,” Brown said. “And I was running the register off the floor. We didn’t even have counters set up yet, and it was really nice how the community came together to help us. We wouldn’t be here without their support.”

The support has helped Brown in innumerable ways, especially after Dick passed away last year, when customers would send letters of support every day.

She’s in the process of passing the family store to her daughter, Jenny, and says she’s confident they’ll be around for many years to come.

Jenny believes that the company’s long history in the city, along with its personable approach to business, will keep the store open for years to come.

“Posner’s has been Tucson’s go-to local art store for over 100 years,” she said. “We have everything for students and professional artists, including knowledgeable advice and friendly service. We love our Tucson community, and are always excited to inspire creativity and nurture new artists.” Inside Tuscon Business