Turnabout is Fair Play

Turnabout is Fair Play

Once, long ago, the most excellent band Rodan said they would agree to an interview if they got to ask questions of me as well. I agreed, and it went OK. I still remember their question about how I wipe my butt, which seemed to be equally motivated by bathroom humor and some Freudian idea one of them had. My answer truly surprised them.


Recently, the tables were turned again, when Ann Trusty and John Hulsey sent me interview questions for their artistcentric website The Artist’s Road. It felt weird being the interviewee. But I dearly love Ann and John, and was honored that they would want to hear from me.

Check it out here. It will be behind a paywall pretty soon. Subscribe to The Artist’s Road if you like it–their articles are pretty beefy and helpful. Ω



I’ve been sort of obsessed with triangles lately.

I know when it happened, but I’m not sure why. It started with this:

No one knows for certain where this teepee-like structure came from. Artists of all ages often build interesting little installations in Inwood Hill Park made from natural materials. So it could be that. One person swore that there was a movie shot at the spot, and the film crew built it as a set.

Regardless, my younger son and his friends were thrilled with it. And the more I looked at it, the more I was struck by how the triangle shape of the shelter was echoed in the very dark lower trunk of the tree at the top of the hill. Then I saw that the massive rocks descending the hill were triangles. And the sky holes formed by large tree branches, too. Soon, I saw triangles everywhere.

I came back to paint the shelter, making sure that the dark trunk of the ridge tree was in the composition. That study was good and pretty interesting to me, but I wanted to push it.

“Shelter (study),” 2017, acrylic, 12×6

One Saturday, my wife and I decided it was a good day for “divide and conquer,” meaning we split up the boys and each of us does something with one of them to keep them from killing each other (and ganging up on us!) I took Charlie to the park and took my plein air kit. He took baseball equipment and his scooter. I saw triangles in the marsh scene. I painted this:

“HH Bridge Abstraction,” 2017, acrylic, 12×12

That was exciting to me, although it seemed to horrify or puzzle most passersby.

The next week, I took this painting back to the shelter spot, and painted over it, abstracting the scene into triangles. I knew what this was for. I wanted my friend Danny to own this one. At first, I thought I would leave about half of the original painting, shown below, which depicts Dyckman Street, looking down Seaman Ave. But the leaves and hillside gradually took over the canvas.

“Dyckman View, 2017, acrylic, 36×18. Painted over.

In the end, only a bit of the first painting showed through. I liked how the pre-War buildings of Seaman Ave were peaking through a painting of a very different kind of shelter. This was Inwood from the times of the Lenape people to today. I shot a photo of “Shelter,” but in progress. I mailed off the painting to Danny without photographing the finished product. Doh!

“Shelter,” 2017, acrylic, 36×18. In progress, on location.

I started reading about triangles. I learned that they are symbolic of many things. The downward pointing triangle appealed the most to me. It represents abundance, plenty (the “cups” cards of the Tarot), fertility, the female genitalia, water. The upward pointing triangle symbolizes power, stability, maleness.

But mostly, I saw triangles all over in the landscape.

The next triangle painting explored the female angle of triangles. I painted my wife’s legs.

“Legs,” 2017, acrylic on paper, 10×17

That worked out well, with the legs abstracted to show the warm and cool of colors on the form. Next, I took a photo of mine of a summer tanager and abstracted it a bit with triangles. I liked how I could use triangles to break up the preponderance of blue sky. The triangles also suggested the tree branches pretty well.

“Tanager Tangent,” 2017, acrylic, 18x 36. Available in my Etsy shop.

Then, I painted with my friend Tony Winters, and this gave me a chance to paint the Henry Hudson Bridge from a different angle, using triangles.

“Rocks at the Foot,” 2017, acrylic, 12×9. Available in my Etsy shop.

And this latest triangle painting is for our downstairs neighbor, the wonderful MJ. It’s my gift to her on her 9th birthday.

“Future Perfect,” 2017, acrylic, 12×9

I don’t know when this will end or where it will lead. Right now, I am happy to go back and forth between triangles and more representational work. Ω


**Visit my Etsy shop if you are interested in one of the paintings: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BobBahrArt?ref=below-listing-title