Rosanna Albertini‘s fictional remake of FRANK MASI’s Personal Record of his Mother



Frank Masi, non se·qui·tur, 2012

A transient story doesn’t last. Like happiness. The record of his mother, Frank’s mother, is made with echoes of her presence between Milwaukee Wisconsin and Los Angeles, in her son’s house. Her name would be too heavy. It doesn’t appear. Places lead the way, “the true core of the universal.”*

Frank looks at her through the large window of her room. She sits at the table watching tennis on TV and playing solitaire all at once. Her back is the only part of her body facing the outside; misleading stillness; her mind is at work, she has to finish before, like the letters she used to write by hand in good calligraphy for her employers. She married one of them, that time it was the good one, not like her son’s father. Maybe to play tennis to meet boys was not such a good idea. To be a secretary is good, after World War II at the top of expectancies of mothers and grandmothers. Frank used to splash in the water of gutters and play war with a big potato squeezer, where was I? Yes, we moved to a beautiful place. Thank god that man invented the way to fix the lead on the milk bottles, and other things. A beautiful place in Milwaukee, with many trees. Father used to walk every day by the railroad tracks to go to work and back, to come home. She is sometimes she, other times the first person, as if measuring the distance between the woman she is and images of the past that are figments rather than memories. They change every time she recalls them. Frank set up the tripod. For no specific reason he chose the out of focus, pointed at the window. They probably have never been so close, neither of them knew it.

At the beginning of 2011, Frank unpacks boxes and boxes of her objects: old kitchen stuff, Midwest Mercedes Benz trophies, photographs, albums. A crumpled piece of paper from one of the boxes calls for his attention, for no reason. Frank puts it on the couch, and clicks.

*William Carlos Williams

Frank Masi, Untitled, 2012


Forgetful Snow

Rosanna Albertini
about MELINDA RING‘S  Forgetful Snow, a four hour performance

at The Box Gallery, Los Angeles

R.A. visual notes

Could it be that human bodies, skin coats on bones growing bushes of hair here and there move in the space like snow flakes? The landscape is contained by right angles honestly supporting the architectural skin around a naked movement. No costumes, no music. I could listen to the ticking of my brain and drag the human figurines into my engine as if they were hungry cells coming to clean my room: words, grammar, and memories disappear. And the human flakes fall and fall on the white carpet almost as if expecting to be absorbed by it.

Of course they are not. One could say they find one another, arms and legs recombined in a collective body for awhile, then move apart, fall on their own. My moments of mental emptiness do not last. Other images appear. I let them come. “Dana”, 1885. One of Rodin’s sculptures made under the influence of Camille Claudel.

Camille Claudel’s bodies trying to contrast the heaviness of their lives and losing power in that very effort. Melinda’s bodies exploring a space that brings back John Cages’ silence, and filling it with figments of her mind. A child would ask: “Are they real?” “Certainly” I reply, “As real as any dream.”

The metaphor, after three hours, melts. For an hour the four figures become completely human musical personas.They challenge their weight, their strength, their self-awareness. Eyes lost inward, as if they don’t see. The white garden blooms with their movements, the skin is made pink and red under the effort, translucent with sweat, and human smell. Peter says, “I forgot they had a face, each body, their whole body has become a character.”

(my visual notes, RA)Snow-001 Snow-005Snow-003


Da Roux-Ga-Roux

JULIE SHAFER —  Cypress Cove Landing on the Atchafalya Basin.

From December 30th to January 2nd)

JULIE SHAFER, 2014 Inkjet Print Courtesy of the artist

JULIE SHAFER, 2014  Inkjet print
Courtesy of the artist

Are there reelee a lotta alligators here?

Oh yah. Dousands of ‘em

OaKay. Welllll, what’re the chances one’s gonna come up to the boat?

“Aahhhhhhh, you won’t see any now – day high-ber-nay-tin


Alligators high-ber-nayte?

Oh yah. Too cold for ‘em now.

Where’re they hibernating?

Dey bury demself in da mud. Burrow their body down in dere. Or if dere’s no mud den ney throw leaf up on top. Den ney sleep. See a mound? Prolly a gator under dere.


Humh, OaKay, Can I walk up those islands? I mean, am I gonna wake ’em up?

Aaahhhh, I wouldn’t go too fah now. Dey might get you.

Get me – who, the gaytrs?”

Nah, a hunter.

A huntr?

Yup, it’s huntin’ season. Shootin’ deer, duck. Started two day ago. Make sure you wear your life jacket if you go walkin’ roun’.


Humh, Ok. I will – Wait, why shhhood…?

So dey see you. Jacket’s bright orange. Won dink you a deer dat way.

Anything else I needta be lookin’ out for?

Jus da Roux-Ga-Roux. Watch out now, he goh-en’ git chu!

The wugalu?

Nah man, the ROUX-GA-ROUX! Been seen in dese swamps now.


JULIE SHAFER, 2014, Inkjet Print Courtesy of the artist

JULIE SHAFER, 2014  Inkjet print
Courtesy of the artist

I may have an irrational fear of alligators. Under different circumstances I wouldn’t be afraid of alligators, but I had just traveled as deep into the bayou as possible — somewhere I have never been — to photograph something that feels like a big secret. I was unsettled, and all of my fears and anxieties that had been sleeping became a crippling fear of gators. I willed myself onto the houseboat I had rented, and nervous energy made me talk with this Cajun captain, who towed me out a few miles into the swamp. He was hard to understand. I’m sure I was too. Additionally, our conversation was in competition with the “bbbbrrrrrruuuuhhhhhhh” of the tugboat engine. But the relief of the beginning of our conversation was quickly replaced by a new anxiety. Something, someone out in these swamps would be watching me, and I wouldn’t see them. I didn’t need to know the specifics of the Roux-Ga-Roux to guess this was the bayou’s version of Bigfoot. Which again under different circumstances I would be laughing about. However on this day, the part of my brain reserved for the, “What ifs,” was activated. What if there really are alien abductions? What if we didn’t really land on the moon, and it was staged? What if there were parallel universes and I was able to meet me? What if the Roux-Ga-Roux is real?

JULIE SHAFER, 2014 Courtesy of the artist

JULIE SHAFER, 2014  Inkjet print
Courtesy of the artist

An Artist’s Offering

Rosanna Albertini, Friday, July 25.      Death is first among the news, one more time and all over the world. Children, women, old people under shells in Gaza; migrants sinking in the water Ulysses thought was the edge of the earth and is now a mediterranean pool filled with corpses and sunken boats; atrocities in Iraq, in Syria, in Ukraine, and in Northern Korea; in the U.S. death penalty doesn’t do the job, the executed survives too long. Like Simone Forti, I sit among the news wondering if I really feel the mountain of tragedies, spines around my head. I would die if I could.  

A vague nostalgia comes up looking back at the smart cynicism of the sixties, covering with concepts the impotence of humans. “Art corrupts”, said Johen Gerz, “Intelligence will kill us.” Really? I, maybe we, are far from that. What do we really understand? We see the news. Three machine-guns are pointed, three of them at the same time, at the head of baby, a year old? He must be a Sunni, or a Shia , who knows? He looks surprised.        

Tell us, they’ll say to me. / So we will understand and be able  / to resolve things. / They’ll be mistaken. It’s only the things you don’t  /  understand that you can resolve.  / There will be no resolution.  (Peter Hoeg, 1993)

1959                     by Gregory Corso

Uncomprising year — I see no meaning to life.

Though this abled self is here nonetheless,

either in trade gold or grammaticness,

I drop the wheelwright’s simple principle —

Why weave the garland? Why ring the bell?

Penurious butchery these notorious human years,

these confident births these lucid deaths these years.

Dream’s flesh blood reals down life’s mystery —

there is no mystery.

Cold history knows no dynastic Atlantis.

The habitual myth has an eagerness to quit.  

. . .

Lies! Lies! Lies! I lie, you lie, we all lie!

There is no us, there is no world, there is no universe,

there is no life, no death, no nothing — all is meaningless,

and this too is a lie — O damned 1959!

Must I dry my inspiration in this sad concept?

Delineate my entire stratagem?

Must I settle into phantomness

and not say I understand things better than God? 

LAUREN LAVITT, an artist from Los Angeles, just sent a piece she made for this blog

her OFFERING IN 2014


Hidden Brownness

LINDA VALLEJO, A New Mythology, 2014. Acrylic, repurposed porcelain 12" (h) x 13" x 9" Courtesy of the artist. From the collection of Frank Masi and Donna Kolb.

LINDA VALLEJO, A New Mythology, 2014. Acrylic, repurposed porcelain 12″ (h) x 13″ x 9″
Courtesy of the artist.
From the collection of Frank Masi and Donna Kolb.

( Everything started with an e-mail from Frank Masi, on June 10, including the photo of the work he and his wife Donna Kolb had  purchased and another e-mail from him, to make the connection between Linda and me.)






Zuma News

SIMONE FORTI  from Los Angeles, Spring 2014

 Zuma News

Like waking from dream, some visual graphic of thought lingers, usually of two thoughts, how to arrange them, which comes first to be told. The constitution, a three dimensional representation. How does activity, human activity form and how can I visualize it to get a general picture, understanding. Tai Chi. How the action of the hand is powered and steered by the belly. The polis. Is the polis the belly? And what is all the crackling of cyber activity? New force, new, new . . . What is money? Money has not been power in all times and situations. But the government gives power to money. Corporations with rights given, upheld by the Supreme Court. Supreme. To have laws the polis, the belly, agrees on. Religion and laws, deeply felt laws, different from one people to another people. Mountain people. Ocean faring people.


Zuma News_Simone Forti_2013_installnocredit020 3

Zuma News_Simone Forti_201340

Zuma News_Simone Forti_201360

Zuma News_Simone Forti_201390

Zuma News_Simone Forti_201370

Zuma News_Simone Forti_2013930

Zuma News_Simone Forti_2013980

Stills from a single channel video, Zuma News, by Simone Forti and Jason Underhill, 2014. Courtesy of both artists and The Box Gallery

But cyber activity and now the end of limitless resources. And the strength of a nation’s surface tension, as of a drop of water separate from another drop. The chemistry within. Why does the economy need to grow?! Yes, I know, unemployment. But even when unemployment’s not a problem, the speed of transactions, the exchange of stuff for money is seen to be needing to grow. What’s the need for it to be growing? And the destabilization of the system, the planet earth system that supports us, doesn’t that increase as the economy grows? And if we can back away from the current course, who will be the losers? And how will that be decided, is being decided? So economics and ecology, the systems of thought . . . how we hide thoughts, get dizzy at the edges where those systems of thought engage, try to engage each other. Power. Power to be those who are rich, who are safe. Who eat raspberries in November while forgetting . . .

L’espace du matin



A word is dead

When it is said,

Some say.

I say it just

Begins to live 

                                                          That day.                         Emily Dickenson

Some say

the same of a rose.

I post it just

begins to live


YVES TREMORIN,  rose 2014 Courtesy of the artist

YVES TREMORIN,  rose 2014,  Courtesy of the artist



Los Angeles – MAUREEN SELWOOD searching for her mother’s interior life

 “Her drawings to me are a link to the real world (she just drew the world close to her). Her images stay at a very elementary level, as though she still had something to correct about her understanding.” M.S. 




This is “a posthumous collaboration between Maureen Selwood and her mother, Eileen Dympna Selwood (née Helene Neylon), who left behind at the time of her death hundreds of drawing pads filled with images created over forty years. Eileen was the youngest of twelve children, and grew up in rural poverty on the west coast of Ireland. She joined a convent in the late 30s in Dublin, but did not remain there. She married and came to America. Whenever she crossed the Irish Sea she wrote on a travel card that her name was Dympna, the patron saint of mental illness. Her brother said she suffered from hallucinations, both vIsual and auditory. But her condition was never given a name. She remained very religious and performed devotions. She also drew.” – James Galvin




1. Rosewater        2. Maureen Selwood, Danae 2014            3. Eve         


iKfHW2cdoN3VygFQun8ldTGvPgffOskSQ8N9w8L5okA    4. Birth            5. The Little Key is Lost. You Must Forever Remain Within





Mitchell Syrop, Final notes on paper ready to be transferred to the wall, circa 1996



Mitchell Syrop, Final notes on paper ready to be transferred to the wall, circa 1996



Mitchell Syrop, Final notes on paper ready to be transferred to the wall, circa 1996

These notes were transformed into  ‘wall paintings’ on three walls at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Bergamot Station.

The Socialist Painter


Italy 1925, Beginning his life as a painter


ORESTE ALBERTINI, Grigna II. 1026  Oil on canvas, 240 x 126 cm.

Oil on canvas, 240 x 126 cm.

The socialist painter, positivistic and progressive as he was, paradoxically became the painter of the good and healthy Lombard bourgeoisie. Not only though, for his notoriety extended as far as Rome. The reasons why this happened are numerous, but the way he painted comes first: not conventional nor revolutionary.

Let’s go back to earlier times. His training dates from the dawn of 1900 in a symbolism-divisionism atmosphere. Gaetano Previati, Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo, Giovanni Segantini. OA’s paintings actually had a short period of divisionism. He ignored futurism, but judged rightly the value of Boccioni. The beginning of his professional life as a painter coincided with the coming of Fascism. Cultural isolation was a state of mind for OA, partly due to the nature of the Italian territory, and partly to the financial straits in which he grew up. The fascist era, moreover, caused him to keep a firm distance from the official trends that were supported by the government, I remember Carrà, Sironi. Unfortunately, I love Sironi’s urban landscapes.

OA had intentionally refused to be involved in Italian cultural life, which was also far from the Parisian ferment. Having the opportunity to be in a collective trip with painters to Paris, he gave up. A demanding trip? Who knows! Bad and good, this Italian isolation makes me say the important painting of the beginning of the 1900’s is Italian. Paris was certainly a melting pot of ideas and great artists, but many of them were foreigners; and the Italian journey wasn’t less significant, on the contrary.

I don’t believe OA would have been a different artist had he embraced a more international life; even shaped by culture, tradition and places, what prevails in an artist is his character. And OA’s character included two parallel pillars: the pride not to yield to the spirit of his time and an extraordinary technical ability. He was a high end artisan, from family tradition and professional practice. The way he could give a body and material consistency to the landscapes’ volumes seems to me extraordinary.

My presence next to him as a child, while he painted, fills my vision. I often went out with him and watched him while painting outdoor, and more than anything else I absorbed the charm around him. I used to curl up by a hill’s shoulder to protect myself from the wind. In March the sun is barely warm. I could perceive the same atmosphere he was painting. He was able to transfer his perceptions into the painting; that’s what his paintings give me back, those immersive moments. If this was the goal, his painting couldn’t have been different, nor did he really want to paint in a different manner. It wouldn’t be fair to say he was out of his time: stylized trees, as well as the houses’ volumetric consistency, when houses appeared, talk of 1900. His ambition was to follow his own road pursuing his personal aim (like the invention of a point for a drill). In times of revival of the 1400’s style of painting – which brought up quite good outcomes – OA’s search wanted to be self-directed even if, as we know well, time is where we belong. In the end the artist emerges and the public, also the bourgeois public, understands him -maybe their reading will be different from mine- but they grab it, the value of his art.

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Photographic portrait of Oreste

ALBERTO ALBERTINI, Photographic portrait of Oreste

A note about “superior dilettantism,” and Eugenio Montale resisting the fascist rhetoric.


In his 1925 essay, “Style and Tradition,” Montale [Italian poet Eugenio Montale] expressed the hope that his work “might contribute to the development of a cordial atmosphere of allusion and understanding in which an artistic expression, however modest, might emerge without being misinterpreted.” The result would be a welcome climate of what he termed “superior dilettantism.” By this he meant … knowingly mediated and humanly discerning engagement with tradition, an attitude utterly distinct from the Fascists’ shoddy pretense of renewing a past greatness of which they had no understanding whatever. … What mattered to Montale was that living men should not do violence to their own memories by declaring, like the Futurists, that the past has been superseded; or like the Fascists, that the past was Fascist too; or by the mandarin littérateurs, tat the past they had embalmed should mortify the living. 

Paradossalmente il pittore socialista, positivista e progressista, fu il pittore della buona e sana borghesia lombarda, ma non solo di quella perché ebbe sempre ottimi riscontri fino a Roma. Questo si spiega in tanti modi ma soprattutto con la sua pittura, né convenzionale né rivoluzionaria. Occorre rifarsi alle epoche. La sua formazione risale agli albori del ‘900 in clima di simbolismo – divisionismo. Previati, Pelizza da Volpedo, Segantini. Di fatto ebbe un breve periodo divisionista. Ignorò il futurismo ma apprezzava Boccioni. L’inizio dell’attività  pittorica definitiva coincise con l’avvento fascista. L’isolamento culturale in cui OA si muoveva era già sensibile sia per la natura del territorio italiano, sia per le condizioni economiche in cui era cresciuto. Il periodo fascista poi determinò il suo distacco completo dalle correnti ufficiali supportate dal regime, mi ricordo di Carrà e Sironi.  Malauguratamente amo i paesaggi urbani di Sironi! Volutamente non aveva voluto partecipare alla vita culturale italiana, se vogliamo, staccata dai fermenti parigini. Avrebbe dovuto partecipare a un viaggio collettivo di pittori a Parigi ma non ne fece nulla. Un viaggio impegnativo? Mah! Questo isolamento, relativo dell’Italia, mi fa dire che in realtà la pittura del primo novecento è italiana. Parigi era sì un crogiuolo di idee e grandi artisti, ma in gran parte erano stranieri e il percorso italiano è stato diverso ma non meno significativo, anzi. L’OA, comunque, penso non si sarebbe comportato in modo diverso perché è vero che gli artisti sono il frutto di molte componenti di cultura tradizioni luoghi, ma soprattutto, se sono artisti, prevale il loro carattere. E OA era caratterizzato dall’orgoglio di non piegarsi allo spirito dei tempi e parallelamente da una capacità tecnica straordinaria. Era un alto artigiano, di famiglia e per le professioni che aveva praticato. La capacità di dare corpo, consistenza, materalità ai volumi dei paesaggi mi pare straordinaria. Io tutto questo lo vedo in relazione alle mie presenze, da bambino, quando dipingeva. Spesso uscivo con lui e lo vedevo dipingere ma soprattutto assorbivo l’incanto che vi aleggiava. Mi raggomitolavo contro una riva, al riparo del vento, al sole tiepido di marzo. Percepivo l’atmosfera che lui dipingeva. Penso che avesse le stesse percezioni e queste riusciva a trasferire nel dipinto, questo mi rievocano i quadri, l’atmosfera, quei momenti. Se questo era il suo obiettivo la sua pittura non poteva essere diversa, né lui voleva che fosse. Né si può dire che fosse fuori dal suo tempo; la stilizzazione degli alberi, la consistenza volumetrica delle case, quando vi apparivano, indicavano che il ‘900 non era assente. La sua ambizione era quella di percorrere una strada personale, sua (come l’invenzione della punta da trapano), che mirasse al risultato che si era prefisso. In tempi di ricerca e ritorno alla pittura del ‘400, che peraltro ha dato frutti niente male, le sua ricerca voleva essere autonoma, anche se sappiamo che dei tempi si è comunque figli. L’artista alla fine emerge e il pubblico, anche borghese lo percepisce, forse non legge l’opera dal mio punto di vista, ma ne afferra il valore.