Work samples

  • Sunday Afternoon
    Sunday Afternoon
    "Sunday Afternoon". This painting is 54" x 42", oil and charcoal on canvas; it's based on a photograph Jack Delano took for the Farm Security Administration in 1941 in Heard County, Georgia. I've kept this painting in my personal collection; it makes me happy to look at these people.
  • once it was this

    This is a charcoal drawing in stop-motion animation, a technique pirated from William Kentridge.  I created it to accompany a poem I wrote.  My mother and four of her five sisters gather for a photograph in our back yard at a family reunion in the summer of 1957. Sooner or later each of the sisters, including my mother, developed Alzheimer's Disease; they walk out of the picture as they depart from what we think of as reality.

  • Girl on the Beach
    Girl on the Beach

    This young girl posed in my studio, but soon enough transposed herself to a beach.  The painting is oil on canvas, 48" x 42",

  • Monday Mornin' Blues
    Monday Mornin' Blues
    This drawing is 102” x 143”, done in charcoal and collage on separate sheets of paper which were suspended using steel rods and C-clamps. It is based on three photographs taken in Georgia and North Carolina in the 1880's and '90s by J.J. Kirkbride, Carl Weis, and a third unknown photographer. These men were six of the tens of thousands of African American men who were subjected to a new form of slavery: the incarceration and servitude of innocent men that was put into practice after Reconstruction. The chains are real, taken straight from the photographs. The men are real, too. They evolved as I worked on them, as I came to understand their different personalities and see something of the lives that they had left behind. The track which they are laying, curving away into the distance, is all they will know of freedom for years to come, perhaps all they will ever know again. I developed a brief essay on the topic to accompany the installation, which can be found in the project “written word”. (Appreciation to Douglas A Blackmon for his book “Slavery by Another Name”.)

About Nancy

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Nancy Linden’s work includes painting, charcoal, assemblage and installation, writing, photography, set design and acting.   Her visual art is largely figurative, most often based on photographs taken during the ’30’s and ’40’s by the photographers of the Farm Security Administration.  With assemblage and site-specific installation she creates environments which spill into the realm of theater to include set design and the devising and writing of theater pieces, which in… more

black and white work

These are large charcoal drawings; large in scale, if not always so in dimensions.  Most are roughly life-size. Many incorporate tarpaper, newsprint, canvas or other media/materials. Some are made directly from a model, some based on a photograph or multiple photographs.

  • Candy Man:  Mississippi John Hurt
    Candy Man: Mississippi John Hurt
    50" x 38", charcoal on paper. Mississippi John Hurt was a Delta bluesman and sharecropper from Avalon Mississippi. He made a few recordings in 1928, but they were not commercially successful. He stopped playing for the most part and continued to sharecrop. In 1963 Dick Spottswood heard those old recordings and, with Tom Hoskins, tracked him down in Avalon and brought him to Washington DC. This time he caught the folk music wave of the 1960’s and became one of the most popular and influential bluesmen of all time. He sang with sweetness, a gentle humor and sly double entendres, to his own melodious style of fingerpicking which owed more to the Piedmont blues tradition than the Delta. To this day he is revered by the best of the best. (The words in this image are the lyrics to Hurt’s Candy Man Blues, one of his sweetest--and sexiest--songs.)
  • timeline
    Charcoal and pastel on paper, tarpaper and wall. Some of the lines and head-shapes are drawn with wire. The dimensions vary with the installation, but are roughly 60" x 120". This was the title piece in an installation several years ago in which I attempted to conflate time, line and memory. The installation consisted of large charcoal drawings interconnected throughout the gallery with wire, tubing, rope, rebar and drawn line. A few other images from the installation can be seen here in the project "installations", and one of the solar etchings in “prints” was made from a photograph of this piece. “Timeline” was later reworked for the "Black Male Identity Project: Incarceration"; that version is the one included here.
  • Jimi
    A few years ago I spoke with Woody Curry, director of The Baltimore Station, about the possibility of making drawings of the residents there. I wrongly assumed that it was a homeless shelter; Woody explained that it was a residence program for treating substance abuse, approaching treatment not only from the physical aspect but also the mental and spiritual. I don’t remember our discussion, but by the time I left his office I had volunteered to provide an art program for the men. I taught a weekly painting class there for a few years and was amazed and delighted by my students, both as individuals and as expressive artists. For my last solo show at Resurgam Gallery I hung one small room entirely with my students’ work and my drawings of them. One man, a highly skilled artist, became a particular friend, and we stayed in touch for a while; I regret that I have since lost touch with him. You can see his own work at
  • Slow Time
    Slow Time
    Charcoal on paper, approximately 54" x 36". I made this drawing from a model, who was not a prisoner but a friend. My friend died in December 2019, just prior to Covid, or maybe one of its first victims. The drawing no longer exists, as such; I continued to work on it until it had lost something. One of the hardest parts of this is knowing when to stop.
  • Been Born Quite a While
    Been Born Quite a While
    Charcoal on paper, approximately 32" x 24". This drawing was based on a photograph of a farmer/musician who played in a brass band in Hale County Alabama. The title is taken from the book "Been Here and Gone" by Frederic Ramsey; he quoted Stormy Williams, trombonist in a small country band: "I've been born quite a while, but I'm here yet."
  • where the Southern cross the Dog
    where the Southern cross the Dog
    Approximately 74” x 86", done in charcoal, gesso, and pastel on paper. These gentlemen recur in my work with some frequency. They are based on two photographs from the Farm Security Administration. During the 1930’s and ‘40’s the FSA sent photographers the caliber of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee across the country to document rural poverty, resulting in an enormous stockpile of brilliant photographs which are in the public domain; much of my work is based on these images. I first used these particular men in an assemblage which was the basis for my installation “where the Southern cross the Dog”; that piece can be seen here in my project entitled “installations”. A few years later I made this charcoal drawing. I installed it in various manners, usually combining it with wood, as it is here; occasionally I paired it with a second figurative drawing. When I worked on a project of solar etching I used transparencies of this drawing, among others, to prepare the plates; the resultant prints can be seen in the project “prints”.
  • End of Day
    End of Day
    This drawing is 34" x 29", done in charcoal and pastel on handmade paper which I made in my studio by rather primitive methods and combined with cheesecloth. It's great rough textural stuff and hell to draw on. A wonderful local model posed for it, a sweet elderly man who dressed in green-and-yellow plaid and fancied himself a borscht-belt comedian; he was fond of saying "remember, this is a nose, not a banana."
  • Monday Mornin' Blues
    Monday Mornin' Blues
    This drawing is 102” x 143”, done in charcoal and collage on separate sheets of paper which were suspended using steel rods and C-clamps. It is based on three photographs taken in Georgia and North Carolina in the 1880's and '90s by J.J. Kirkbride, Carl Weis, and a third unknown photographer. These men were six of the tens of thousands of African American men who were subjected to a new form of slavery: the incarceration and servitude of innocent men that was put into practice after Reconstruction. The chains are real, taken straight from the photographs. The men are real, too. They evolved as I worked on them, as I came to understand their different personalities and see something of the lives that they had left behind. The track which they are laying, curving away into the distance, is all they will know of freedom for years to come, perhaps all they will ever know again. I developed a brief essay on the topic to accompany the installation, which can be found in the project “written word”. (Appreciation to Douglas A Blackmon for his book “Slavery by Another Name”.)
  • content better best
    content better best
    Charcoal and gesso on paper, approximately 48" x 32". Emmanuel was a gentle homeless man and a visionary artist who created astonishing intricately detailed architectural drawings of a world that operates somewhere outside the limitations of the usual three dimensions. We met at an exhibition of a Franciscan Center art class in which he participated; I was struck by his beauty and overcame some reticence to ask him to pose for me. We worked together for maybe six months, in my studio or the treatment center where he was sometimes confined, but he became more and more elusive; later I saw him only occasionally, when he would turn up at my door for an “advance” on his modeling fee. Eventually he disappeared altogether; perhaps, I sometimes fancied, into that other-dimensional world he had depicted. Emmanuel named this piece.
  • Woman (after Gordon Parks)
    Woman (after Gordon Parks)
    The scale is large, but the piece is small: approximately 14" x 14", charcoal and pastel on paper made by the same crude processes as with the piece "End of Day". The subject is a farm woman, photographed by Gordon Parks for the Farm Security Administration in the 1940's.

bluesmen and other ghosts

The paintings are oil and charcoal and collage on canvas or masonite. The subjects are displaced persons, time travelers, ghosts: most of them from the 30?s and 40?s, people sidelined on farms or city streets, as represented in Farm Security Administration photographs. Apart from me, outside the flow of daily life, strong and bleak and solitary, they wake me with the rawness of their lives. The process is excavation: trying shapes and colors and removing them again, digging for bone with paint and charcoal until, as my eyes become accustomed to a different light, I begin to recognize the depths and artifacts of a certain room, a landscape, the structure of a morning, the sharp solitude of twilight; to see the colors and shadows of a world I cannot enter.

(In much the same spirit I peer sideways into lighted windows as I pass at night.)

  • Rooms by the Week
    Rooms by the Week
    48" x 42", charcoal, oil paint, gesso and collage on masonite. Based on an FSA photograph. I have used that same seated man in other work; here he can be seen under the same title in the project “prints”. (This piece was one of three paintings rented to Runaway Bride; it can be seen, out of focus, throughout a scene in the newspaper office; it comes into focus for one split second: pow: and it’s gone.)
  • Sunday Afternoon
    Sunday Afternoon
    "Sunday Afternoon". This painting is 54" x 42", oil and charcoal on canvas; it's based on a photograph Jack Delano took for the Farm Security Administration in 1941 in Heard County, Georgia. I've kept this painting in my personal collection; it makes me happy to look at these people.
  • A Well-Spent Life
    A Well-Spent Life
    40” x 30”, oil on canvas with sand. This piece was based on a photograph of the Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb. He took the name “Mance” from “Emancipation”; his father had once been a slave.
  • Beale Street
    Beale Street
    61” x 83”, oil and charcoal on canvas with wood. This was the first large assemblage I made. It was an instinctual process: I played with materials until it seemed that the piece had assumed its necessary shape. The two central men were based on photographs of the Delta bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt and Son House. I have relocated them in Memphis, where Beale Street was a historic center for the blues.
  • All the voices you have heard at all the kitchen tables
    All the voices you have heard at all the kitchen tables

    This mixed-media piece is based on two Farm Security Administration photographs of elderly women and a poem, which I am quoting in the title.  The poem can be read in the animation "Once It Was This", which can be found among the four "Work Samples" at the top of my portfolio.  It measures 59” x 66”, charcoal, pastel, and oil on canvas and wood.

  • A Street in Vicksburg
    A Street in Vicksburg
    Oil on canvas, approximately 42" x 36". Vicksburg Mississippi, 1936. This is from a photograph by Walker Evans for the Farm Security Administration.
  • Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged
    Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged
    Charcoal, pastel, newspaper and roofing tar on masonite, 48” x 38”. It is based on a photograph of Sleepy John Estes, a Tennessee blues guitarist who wrote such songs as “Drop Down Mama”, “Railroad Police Blues”, and “Rats in My Kitchen”. (He did not write “Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged”; Fred Neil wrote that in the ‘60’s.) Sleepy John’s epitaph, ".. ain't goin' to worry Poor John's mind anymore", was a line from his song “Someday Baby Blues”.
  • Entella
    48" x 42". As a student in San Francisco I stayed for a while in the Entella Hotel in North Beach. The single rooms there were rented by the week, and most were occupied by old Italian men, many of them crab fishermen, all of them alone. They adopted me and a friend who was also staying there, and we sat and watched them play poker into the night in the night manager's kitchen. This painting was made for them.
  • Waitin' on the Yellow Dog
    Waitin' on the Yellow Dog
    Oil on canvas, 54" x 48". The Yellow Dog was the name given to the Yazoo-Delta Railway, which ran from Moorhead to Tutweiler Mississippi. It was in Tutweiler that W.C. Handy first encountered the blues.
  • The Home Place
    The Home Place

    A solitary woman at dusk, standing in open land; a collage of tan and cream paper and oil bar on black tarpaper.  83" x 38".

women in black and other ladies

My first solo show consisted of paintings of solitary men and women, without a narrative. I called it “Waiting for Godeau” and accompanied it with this statement, which can be applied to these more recent women as well:

There's an acting exercise in which each actor, in however small a role, reinterprets the play in the light of his or her own character and takes the lead. These may be minor characters in minor dramas, but here they are the stars.

They are presented outside of time and context, while they were waiting for something else: for a bus, or a lover, or for the day to pass, or for news. For the time when they will light another cigarette. Something has happened here, or something is about to happen, but now they only sit and wait.

(Robert Godeau was a funeral director in San Francisco when I was in school there. I used to pass his sign every day on the bus. I’ve waited 30 years to make this pun.)

  • Concierge
    These women were painted for the joy of working with the lush color and textures of the oil paint. Each began with a model; each altered as I worked and began to see more deeply into the world of the painting. ~ This piece is oil on canvas, 30" x 24".
  • Lady in the Dark
    Lady in the Dark
    oil on canvas, 52" x 44"
  • Golden Girl
    Golden Girl
    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • Diamonds and Rust
    Diamonds and Rust
    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • Girl on the Beach
    Girl on the Beach

    This young girl posed in my studio, but soon enough transposed herself to a beach.  The painting is oil on canvas, 48" x 42",

  • Indian Summer
    Indian Summer
    oil on canvas, 40" x 30"
  • White Nights
    White Nights
    oil and sand on canvas, 16" x 16"
  • In a Gold Room
    In a Gold Room
    oil and encaustic on canvas, 29" x 26"
  • Mae Rose Cottage
    Mae Rose Cottage
    74" x 38" overall; the area shown is approximately 60" x 38". The underlay is charcoal and paper on Luan, with wire; the overlay is metal rod, wire and artificial flowers. The right edge of the wire overlay is hinged along the right side of the Luan; its left edge is suspended 8" in front, so it rests open like a book.
  • Carmen Jones
    Carmen Jones
    oil on canvas, 30" x 24"

moving pictures: acting, directing and charcoal animation

For the past ten or fifteen years, my primary focus has been the theater.  This project is a collection of several related activities:  The first two items are shots of a set I designed for the new play "Abdication!"  Next are six brief acting monologues, from "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "The Misanthrope", "The Little Foxes" (two delicious characters from that play), "Richard III", and "Table Manners".  They are followed by a Zoom production I directed, of a 12-minute scene from the play "Everybody" by Branden Jacob Jenkins.  Last is a visual interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 97, using charcoal animation and still photos; I made it for a UK group which called itself The Show Must Go Online and undertook to produce Shakespeare's entire canon during lockdown, one play per week. 

Also related to theater are my “Written Word” project, which includes adaptations I’ve made for the stage from other literary works, and my "Installations" project, with environments that closely approach stage design.

  • Abdication!

    This winter I designed and built a set for Abdication, a new play by Naya James, presented at Silver Spring Stage in January 2024.  Abdication consists of three discrete scenes, related only by a common theme:  at the end of each scene the protagonist moves into a world of unreality, fantasy, fog.  A young man plans to go into suspended animation for three years and live in virtual reality.  A man and a woman, each of whom has been burned by love, schedule surgery to remove the portion of their brain susceptible to romantic love; but when they meet they drop their plans and instead embark on a fantasy romance of their own.  A woman tries to assert her individuality in a regimented world, and in the end is drugged and dragged offstage to have her brain altered. 


    I am responding to this atmosphere of uncertainty and unreality.  To create the set I hung  23 panels of scrim and gauze; they move and give way as the actors move in and out of them in their passage between the real world and this dreamscape.  Scrim is a material with a wide open weave.  When lighted from the front, it is opaque and solid; when lighted only from behind, it becomes transparent; with some light on both sides, it is transitional, translucent.  You can see layer upon layer of scrim leading back into the distance; a character will exit the stage and be lit briefly while passing behind the scrims before he disappears.

  • Abdication!

    In this photo the front lights are dimmed on the set for "Abdication!" while the scenery is shifted.  The shift is primarily lighted by the glow from light behind the scrims, which renders the fabric partially transparent.  Please see the other image I've included for "Abdication!" (above) for more information.

  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Big Mama
    A family meeting. Big Mama has just learned that Big Daddy is dying of cancer, after she had been lied to about the nature of his illness. One of her two sons is primarily concerned with getting his inheritance; the other, Brick, a difficult man whom she adores, is disgusted by the mendacity of his brother and has held himself apart from the gathering. This speech is in the final scene of the play. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams.
  • The Misanthrope: Arsinoe
    The misanthrope is Alceste, who is fed up with people and with social prevarication. He is unwillingly charmed by the beautiful young Celemene (as is every other man in sight) and is adored by Arsinoe, an unlovable Older Woman. This monologue is spoken by Arsinoe to her rival. The Misanthrope, Moliere.
  • The Little Foxes: Regina
    Regina wants a life of luxury and travel and excitement, and doesn't mind hurting a few people to attain it. This may include her husband, who is ill with heart trouble. Also in this project is a monologue by Birdie, a sweet ineffectual woman who is married to one of Regina's avaricious brothers. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman.
  • The Little Foxes: Birdie
    Birdie is a sweet gentle woman who has married into a family of avaricious and powerful men--and one woman: Regina is a another of my favorite characters; I've included a monologue of hers below. In the present scene, Birdie is having cookies and a glass of elderberry wine with the three other kindhearted characters in this play. The Little Foxes, Lillian Hellman.
  • Duchess of York, from Richard III

    The Duchess of York was Richard's mother.  She speaks to him as he prepares to go to war.

  • Table Manners: Ruth
    This is Ruth from Table Manners, one of three plays by Alan Ayckbourn known collectively as The Norman Conquests after Norman, a sweet mindless doofus who manages to seduce his wife and each of her sisters.
  • Everybody
    I recently directed a scene from Everybody, Branden Jacobs-Jennings' very contemporary adaptation of the Medieval morality play, Everyman. This is nearly the first scene of the play and should be self-explanatory. My actors are, in order of appearance: Kaite Aymes, Katharine McLeod, Cecily Overman, Jojo MacDonald, Celeste Cahn, Cate D'Angelo and Benjamin Heath.
  • Sonnet 97, William Shakespeare *
    This is my interpretation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 97, illustrated with images and animated drawings. It was made for a group based in UK, The Show Must Go Online, which produced all of Shakespeare's plays in chronological order, one each week, during lockdown.


These prints are solar etchings made from photos of my large charcoal drawings. Some are combined with monotypes, others include hand coloring and/or collage. Many of the original drawings can be seen in the project "black and white".

Solar etching is a process of etching a plate by placing on it a positive image on acetate (directly inked on the acetate or reproduced from a photo), and exposing it to light. With normal exposure, you get a plate with which you can print a precise image of the original. But if you remove the acetate, which was masking the dark areas, and expose the whole plate to a few seconds of light, the darker areas will in effect "fall off", leaving unexpected areas of textured white. I greatly enjoy these times when I no longer completely control a project, and fate takes a hand.

Thank you to Soledad Salome for instructing me in this process and for the use of her studio, to Janet Maher of Loyola and to School 33. (I get by with a little help from my friends.)
  • Rooms by the Week:  gold
    Rooms by the Week: gold
    Solar etching, ink, gold leaf; image is about 8" x 6".
  • Timeline:  brown ghost
    Timeline: brown ghost
    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a "ghost image", printed with the ink that remains on the plate after the original printing.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog:  brown and black
    where the Southern cross the Dog: brown and black
    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a dual print from two different plates: the first plate, printed in brown ink, is normal: lights and darks appear as they did in the original drawing. The second plate, printed in black. was altered by additional exposure to light such that the densest dark areas of image were eaten away, leaving white spaces that did not accept the ink; you see through those missing areas to the brown first print. See discussion under the tab "About This Project", and the single print of this same image, later in this project, which may further clarify the process.
  • timeline, handmade paper
    timeline, handmade paper
    solar etching on rough handmade paper, 10" x 10". This is from a photograph of "Timeline", a line of men's heads, as seen in the project "black and white work".
  • Diptych:  Street Scene and Rooms by the Week
    Diptych: Street Scene and Rooms by the Week
    solar etching, 7" x 10". Two separate plates were combined to make this image.
  • Rooms by the Week, handmade paper
    Rooms by the Week, handmade paper
    solar etching printed on rough hand-made paper, about 9" x 6". This is from a photograph of a large drawing I made based on a Farm Security Administration image.
  • Street Scene
    Street Scene
    Image 8" x 7", solar etching with chine colle, ink, charcoal. The original of this image can also be seen in the project "black and white work".
  • where the Southern cross the Dog
    where the Southern cross the Dog
    solar etching, 5" x 7". This plate was altered such that some of the deeper blacks in the original image disappeared. Please see the Overview under the tab "About This Project" for a discussion of the process. ~ This image recurs here, in different incarnations, in the projects "black and white work" and "installations".
  • Diptych:  Street Scene and Rooms by the Week, with ink
    Diptych: Street Scene and Rooms by the Week, with ink
    Solar etching and ink, 7" x 10". Made by printing two different plates.
  • Summer Dresses, with diary
    Summer Dresses, with diary

small figures: bluesmen, farmers, ghosts

These are small assemblages which combine charcoal or wire drawings of bluesmen and farmers with found objects and materials such as wood, plaster, wire, wax, and paint. Some of them verge on the sculptural; I think of them as 2-1/2 dimensional.  I find a joyous physicality in playing with the rough materials, and hope these pieces express that pleasure.
  • Lower Woburn Grenada--BKLYN.jpg
    Lower Woburn Grenada--BKLYN.jpg
    I encountered this happy fellow on a walk-about in Grenada. I took several photos of him, which seemed to please him very much, as did the Eastern Caribbean dollar I gave him for the favor. We were on our boat then, on our way home from a year or so in Europe. We had intended to stop in Tobago, but a very strong current and a failed engine intended that we go to Grenada instead. It worked out well.
  • Standing Man
    Standing Man
    15" x 16 1/2", metal, paper, tarpaper and charcoal on wood, with wood
  • Pozos de Mineral (a street)
    Pozos de Mineral (a street)
    Pozos de Mineral is a little white plaster village in central Mexico where I spent two magical days a few years ago. The power went out in the village one night; I sat in the square with the townspeople, who had brought candlelanterns and barbeques, and later walked home by starlight through streets empty of cars; the year could as easily have been 1940, or 1920, or 1820 ~~ This piece is 16" x 28"; wire, metal, wood, plaster, cloth and paint.
  • Sunday Morning
    Sunday Morning
    12” x 12”, photo transfer, oil and newspaper on masonite. These are the same men as the two in Street Scene, the 6th piece here; I found them in a Walker Evans photograph. In this case they were transferred from a xerox with wintergreen oil.
  • Landscape (lone figure)
    Landscape (lone figure)
    15" x 15 1/2", hydrocal plaster, wood, charcoal, beeswax and paint, with wood.
  • Monday Mornin' Shoes
    Monday Mornin' Shoes
    Charcoal on frosted vellum, backed with white paper, mounted on wood; 14" x 14". This is from a 19th Century photograph of a railroad gang of prisoners. Went and asked the judge, said what might be my fine get a pick and shovel boy and go down in the mines it’s the only time I ever felt like cryin’. Mississippi John Hurt
  • Dust Bowl Refugees
    Dust Bowl Refugees
    25" x 27", photo transfer, oil paint and paper on masonite with wood. This was an early working of the Dorothea Lange photograph on which I based Six Tenant Farmers (see "Dust Bowl Refugees" in the projects "installations" and "written word"). Two other of the farmers can be seen here in "Tenant Farmers (sunbleached)", #8.
  • Landscape (steel)
    Landscape (steel)
    These small figures are farmers, bluesmen and ramblers. They are based on Farm Security Administration photos from the 1930's and '40's; some are photo transfers and some are drawings, or both. This piece is 15" x 17", metal, wire, wood, charcoal, beeswax and housepaint.
  • Crokies
    These are from a series of small figures I made by playing. They utilize wood, metal, paper, tarpaper, sticks, wire, plaster, paint, pastel, and whatever else was around. They are 12"-15" high. "Crokies" are small quick sketches, used especially by fashion illustrators.
  • 'Round Midnight.jpg
    'Round Midnight.jpg
    This collage is 14" x 18". It incorporates a print of Where the Southern cross the Dog (see in Prints project), tarpaper, silvered tarpaper, wire and wood.


Many of these pieces were made simply for the sensual pleasure of working with soft charcoal, thick paint and vibrant color, and a fascination with line, which I approached as if I were following it, as it moved across a page. Many of the pieces in this project, even those not obviously linear, express that fascination. Three of them were part of a larger project, which can be seen here in my projects “moving pictures” and “installations”.

  • A Topology (for the Coney Island lode)
    A Topology (for the Coney Island lode)
    I was asked to make a self-portrait for a show a few years ago, and rather than peer in a mirror I chose to work from a photograph of me at age--5? 6?--with my daddy in Colorado, where we spent my childhood summers. This piece includes collaged papers, encaustic, and transparencies of mining plats (in the panel on the right). Approximately 54" x 48". You can read the accompanying artist's statement in the project entitled "Written Word".
  • Refractions, Red Black and White
    Refractions, Red Black and White
    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Out of Memory
    Out of Memory
    This was an out-take from my animated film, which you can see in the project “moving pictures”. The film explores time and memory; in an earlier version, a web of roots or branches (or cerebral neurons?) eventually grew over and obscured the entire image.
  • Refractions, Red and Green
    Refractions, Red and Green
    oil on canvas
  • Starscape
    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Wheatfield
    oil on Luan, 36" x 26"
  • Seeking Bone
    Seeking Bone
    150” x 78”, acrylic, oil bar, housepaint, charcoal, pastel and roofing tar on vinyl. This is a continuation of the body of work begun with my multi-media installation Timeline, exploring line, arcane theories of the structure of time, and fading memory. It represents a root system, reaching down through soil seeking the bones of the earth. It also represents a form of navigation. ~ It was originally twice this length, made as part of a project at Area 405 in which the curators hung panels of vinyl down one wall from ceiling to floor and on across the floor and invited artists to work on them. My piece was a tree, stark and broken, which rose upward as its roots reached out across the floor. I later re-worked the lower portion for a show at Maryland Art Place, and as I worked it altered; I saw the roots as moving line, blindly feeling their way down into the soil. A related essay is in the project "written word", illustrated there by a drawing of my mother and her sisters, all of whom eventually developed Alzheimer's Disease. Other pieces in that body of work include the animated film in the project “moving pictures” and Timeline in “black and white”. ~ (405 Oliver once housed a factory making window blinds and awnings. When the artists moved in, they found enormous rooms filled with rolls of vinyl and other materials. Our project barely made a dent in those stores.)
  • Refractions, Red and Grey
    Refractions, Red and Grey
    oil and sand on canvas, 30" x 30"
  • Tree
    Charcoal on various papers and wall, approximately 96" x 48". This was part of my installation "Time Line".
  • Red Figure in Landscape
    Red Figure in Landscape
    oil on canvas, 24" x 18"


I worked for many years in the theater, primarily as a set designer. It was tremendously exciting to create a piece of art which one could walk into, immerse onesself in an environment, imagine oneself in some different time and place. I still prefer to incorporate my paintings and drawings as elements of an environment, rather than to hang them individually on clean white walls. The installation "where the Southern cross the Dog" (the capitalization is deliberate; it's a line from an old blues song W.C. Handy overheard while waiting for a train) incorporated various materials and detritus which would have been part of the lives of the farmers and Delta bluesmen in my paintings.  An old radio in the corner played country blues. The installation "timeline" explored expressions of time and line both in the drawings I made (mummies, trees, figures from long ago) and in the materials—wire, rope, rebar—which filled the room and passed through the air from drawing to drawing. Other of these installations were more purely abstract; one, "From Reverence to Exultation", was an actual set design for a jazz performance.

  • Dust Bowl Refugees
    Dust Bowl Refugees
    The piece as installed is 96” x 180”; it is charcoal, pastel, gesso, oil bar, plaster, and paper collage on wood, canvas and tarpaper on the five separate panels, each panel utilizing different mediums. It is based on Dorothea Lange’s photograph of six tenant farmers who have been evicted from their land in Hardeman County, Texas, in 1937. In installation this piece was centered on one wall of the gallery; the remainder of that wall and the other three walls were left empty except for a charcoal horizon which was drawn on the wall between the men and continued around the entire room.
  • From Reverence to Exultation
    From Reverence to Exultation
    From Reverence to Exultation was an exhibition at the Creative Alliance in which a group of artists made work in response to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. My part was to design, build and light a stage set for a performance by The Onus of compositions by Coltrane and Darryl Harper. I had designed sets for theater but never for a concert, so Darryl and I conferred extensively; I learned about their spatial needs, especially the square footage I must provide the drummer so that he not topple backward off his platform. Darryl agreed willingly that I might install elements that would partially obscure the musicians visually, as long as it didn’t interfere with their music; I built structures of wire, wood and metal throughout the stage and covered the walls with black-and-white drawings. ~ In the process I came to deeply admire Coltrane’s music. I had never been able to understand or enjoy it, and at first was hesitant about the project; then one evening I sat in the dark with a glass of wine and just listened, and was swept away by shattering images. I realized that this was the aural equivalent of powerful abstract painting.
  • So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, detail
    So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, detail
    The area shown is approximately 48” x 60” x 24”deep, using wire, tubing, metal, bicycle parts, found objects, paper, charcoal and mirror. I made it for The Bike Project at HCC in collaboration with Breon Gilleran, a metal sculptor, who could build the structure for any fantasy. We began by playing with wheels and gears, and found distant galaxies and the harmony of the spheres.
  • Displaced Realities:  The Space Between
    Displaced Realities: The Space Between
    Nine artists took over both floors of Maryland Art Place’s original Saratoga Street gallery for two months some years ago to create a collaborative installation. We had met weekly throughout the previous summer to discuss ideas, look at one another’s work and establish parameters: we would explore unaccustomed media, interrelate our work with at least one piece of direct collaboration, and permit the others to alter our work as they might choose. During the 10-day installation period we occupied the gallery day and night, eating our meals (pizza from the shop two doors down) sitting crosslegged on the floor, leaving only to sleep. We had a big opening reception and then continued to alter the installation during the six-week run; we had a closing reception for a very different show. ~ My own work filled the window-side of the upstairs gallery. Rope, wire and tree roots reached across the room. One area became a sort of stage set, with a dim bare lightbulb suspended over an empty chair, white antique undergarments clothespinned across a window, and a 1930’s radio playing ambient sounds: the shouts of children playing, a train whistle, distant music, a woman’s laughter. I hung empty window frames in front of the actual windows and ironed beeswax into papers, book pages, drawings and cheesecloth to make a translucent window treatment. I sought to describe light diminished by time and memory; I wrote a poem which was silk screened onto the wall. This was the first of several works I’ve made concerned with the altered perceptions encountered in Alzheimer’s Disease, as I saw them in my mother.
  • Charts for a TimeTraveler
    Charts for a TimeTraveler
    This work was installed for Artscape. A row of 7’ x 3’ x 3’ boxes (referred to as “telephone booths”) was arrayed down Mount Royal as viewing stations. I used roots and branches, wire, glass, paper and silver leaf to draw line through space, extending it on into infinity by means of broken mirror at the top and bottom. I considered that I was mapping some arcane and crazed route, perhaps into an alternate universe.
  • Sweet as the Showers of Rain
    Sweet as the Showers of Rain
    This is a corner view of the installation “where the Southern cross the Dog”, incorporating a charcoal drawing with architectural elements, collage drawings and newspaper.
  • Summer Dresses
    Summer Dresses
    This is an installation detail of "Timeline", showing the piece "Summer Dresses", a large (about 72” x 72”) charcoal drawing of my mother and four of her sisters, done from a photograph taken at a family reunion in 1957. The drawing felt too immediate, the women too easily accessed; I wanted to hold the viewer at a distance, to partially obscure the image of the women as memory fades with time. I built a structure to stand between the drawing and the viewer, using glass, wire, silver leaf, a poem and a drawing of my mother in old age. ~ Please see "Summer Dresses" in my project entitled "the written word". Also please see the video animation I made based on that drawing, in the project “moving pictures”.
  • Timeline:  installation view
    Timeline: installation view
    My installation Timeline was concerned with time, line and memory: years overlapping, line drawn in four dimensions with no beginning or end but which only enters and departs the picture. It was about drawing and being drawn, reaching like roots through soil seeking the bones of the earth. (Line: a river turns out of sight, cars pass on night highway, telephone wires catenary down a railroad track.) ~ Six large charcoal drawings were installed in the gallery unframed, and then reworked so that the charcoal line spread off the paper and across the walls (the title drawing, “Timeline”, can be seen in the project “black and white work”). I built three standing figures with wire and metal, working the wire so that it resembled my drawn line. The drawings, the figures and a few smaller pieces were interconnected with rebar and metal tubing that branched across the gallery, and irregular pieces of broken mirror placed on floor and ceiling reflected the line on into infinity.
  • Outside the Juke-Joint
    Outside the Juke-Joint
    This is another view of "where the Southern cross the Dog". I incorporated an old ladder in the installation, and considered that the radiator and steam pipes were part of it, too. The neighbors of the South Baltimore gallery where I installed the work were worried about me; they would peek in, see the ladder and an old can of paint which I also fancied, and say “oh dear, you still haven’t finished it!”
  • where the Southern cross the Dog
    where the Southern cross the Dog
    “I’m goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog” is a line from an old lost railroad blues song W.C.Handy overheard while waiting for a train in a deserted station in Tutweiler Mississippi, where the Yazoo Delta Railway, known locally as the Yellow Dog, crossed the Southern. This piece was the heart of a gallery installation that combined assemblage with paintings of the sharecroppers and bluesmen of the 1930’s South.

written word: essays, poems and theater

Sometimes a visual image doesn't seem sufficient, and I approach the work again through text or poetry or, in one case, an animated video (which can be seen at the top of my portfolio among the four "Work Samples"). The visual and written expressions can stand independently, but taken together they serve to enrich one another. Sometimes an essay may help pull together an installation or exhibition of paintings, providing insight to the viewer or, perhaps more significantly, to myself.  

Other of these pieces are adaptations for the stage of a variety of works, ranging from Euripides' Trojan Women to Jack and the Beanstalk.

  • Summer Dresses
    ...moving freely back and forth through the 94 years of her life…Her shifting reality was so vibrant that I came to doubt my own, and to think, who am I to say she's wrong?
  • Dust Bowl Refugees
    The men are ghosts. The men are long gone, moved on or died. The land is still there and it’s still dry wornout flatland.
  • A Topoloogy (for the Coney Island Lode)
    I dreamed out the window, my head lost in stars and black prairie night. By dawn we saw faint blue mountains ghosting along the horizon...
  • A Map of Venice
    Looking long afterward into a map of Venice I am abruptly and powerfully entangled in darkness:
  • Monday Mornin' Blues
    …The perfect solution to both dilemmas soon became apparent: arrest and imprison black men and lease them to the railroads, the mines and the factories as a form of slave labor. While the 13th Amendment freed the slaves, it specifically permitted involuntary servitude for “duly convicted” criminals. New laws were written which targeted the freed slaves, making criminal such acts as speaking loudly in the presence of a white woman, quitting a job without permission, or “vagrancy”, which could be construed to suit one’s pleasure.
  • MoonPlay
    This is a clown-play about celestial navigation. I devised and performed this piece with three actors in workshop at Single Carrot Theatre. The text as presented here is a record of what we did, together with a discussion of what we had hoped to do and how we might in future overcome some rather massive technical problems.
  • The Trojan Women
    This is a translation I am working on, based on multiple translations from the Greek. It’s a work in progress; here are two of the three scenes which I have thus far completed. For the most part I’ve used iambic pentameter, probably not what Euripides used but perhaps closer for our ears. The Messenger, however, speaks (after his first three lines) in casual contemporary prose. I have incorporated lines from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and Sweeney Among the Nightingales. These will be read by an off-stage voice, or by a visible actor who remains outside the action.
  • Goodbye and Good Luck
    I have adapted Grace Paley’s short story, Goodbye and Good Luck, for the stage. I have retained virtually all of the narration and dialogue spoken by her characters exactly as Paley wrote it. It was simply too good to alter. The staging is mine.
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
    This is a design project based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. (Why not?)
  • Conversion of the Jews.pdf
    This is an adaptation for the stage of Philip Roth’s short story, The Conversion of the Jews

photographs: Italy

I spent two weeks in Italy a few years ago. I missed connections and spent the first night in Toronto; my bag traveled on its own to London and Albania and reluctantly rejoined me in Siena 9 days later; I fell through a trapdoor in a shop in Rome & hurt my knee rather seriously; I had a terrific cold and stomach flu and the weather was, as we say, brutto. It was brilliant. Italy may be the most beautiful place I've ever been. I walked through so many beautiful medieval cities I became blase', thought I was beyond being surprised or impressed, and then I'd turn a corner and stop dead, mouth open, no words available save, you should pardon the expression, "holy shit". When I became thoroughly lost I'd ask directions in my rudimentary Italian and people would walk blocks out of their way, closing up shop if necessary, to take me where I wanted to go, or where they thought it sounded like I wanted to go. I took about a thousand photographs.

  • Bicycle (Rome)
    Bicycle (Rome)
  • Two Women (Venice)
    Two Women (Venice)
  • Dusk in Siena
    Dusk in Siena
  • Stairs (Sperlonga)
    Stairs (Sperlonga)
  • Hotel Window, Siena
    Hotel Window, Siena
  • Yellow Umbrella (Siena)
    Yellow Umbrella (Siena)
  • From the window of my first hotel, Siena
    From the window of my first hotel, Siena
  • Market, Cannaregio, Venice
    Market, Cannaregio, Venice
  • Florence Duomo
    Florence Duomo
  • Stairway (Gaeta)
    Stairway (Gaeta)