The June Queen

“Mom–Look at the Boid!”
“It’s not a ‘boid,’ son, it’s a BIRD.”
“But Ma…it choips like a boid!”

– Overheard in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

The June Queen


My pal, Tony Judge, is an avid birder; a bird watcher.  He is serious.  He has traveled to Iceland to see birds the rest of us will never see.  He recently bunked at my place for a while and nailed up a bird-feeder to my back porch. I will forever be grateful for this.  Every morning, the congregation of  starlings, cardinals, purple house finches, and all varieties of sparrows adds color and light and music to my day.  I often tell people that my version of retirement will be  making bird pictures–birds and naked women. Probably mostly birds since they’re less trouble.  I’ll let the pointy-heads and the MFA’s worry about being “relevant.”  The theory geeks  can wait tables, wear trucker-hats, drink shitty beer and think great thoughts.  I’ll draw birds and naked brunettes and be happy doing so.

I did go to an opening last night that I liked; a group show at Zolla-Leiberman Gallery that was unexpected in its humor and ferocity.  A good bunch of young artists put on a show  worth seeing.  I bought a couple of things by young artists I’d never heard of and was really happy to see a rebellious, funny and fierce show in this town.

I also recently got another piece by Duncan Robert Anderson–who is not a kid–he is in his early 40’s and has been making art for a long time.  His work is informed by funny, other-worldly, sci-fi touches and found objects as well as hand-made things that I really like.  They are poignant, absurd, human, and geeky in the best way.  Duncan loves Star Wars and King Arthur-type stuff I find unfathomable but it is his lingua-franca and in his work it really works.  He is an odd creature for Chicago.  He is from east Tennessee, and is a for real, no-shit, Southern gentleman.  It’s not an act.  He refers to my house keeper as “Miss Claire,” even though she is half his age.  He is unfailingly polite and a genuinely good guy.  He works at the MCA and the next piece he installs there ought to be one of his own.  I have two of his things and can’t wait to get another.  He is the goods.  What is exciting in Chicago right now is that right around the periphery there are a bunch of wonderful artists.  I’ve bought 30 pieces by young Chicago artists in the last year and I feel like I’ve scored.  I don’t have a lot of money and for what I’ve spent, I feel really fortunate.

My pal, Ton hy came in my studio one day really amped.  I thought he’d won the lotto.  He told me, “At the feeder, we got purple house finches.  I just saw’em. . .purple house finches.”   Every day since then Ive been grateful for that feeder.  I sit there in the morning, wearing my nicotine patch, gnawing on my tooth-picks and drinking my coffee and I watch them and listen to them.

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