DEATH PAINTING: my wife died a year ago today

Suzanne Dying 9w074 conté and acrylic on rag paper 19 1/2 x 18 inches

A year ago this morning my wife, Suzanne Mauer, died after a nine-year battle with metastatic hemangiopericytoma. Her doctors, Ronald Blum at Beth Israel and Robert Maki at Sloan Kettering, were wonderful doctors and loving men. Suzanne’s death was long, lingering, agonizing, and included a vicious and very expensive legal battle to get treatment approved by her insurance carrier. She went, in a wheelchair, to Albany to talk to the lawmakers in the Capitol and, based on that trip and the incredible help of Mark Scherzer, there is now a New York State law that says that a person with a rare disease cannot be denied coverage based on a lack of “clinical studies”.

She was tough, loving and complicated. Her computer screen saver said “LOVE RULES.” These paintings are love letters. And I will continue making them until they stop demanding to be made. The hell with decorative painting.

PAINTING. Dying of Cancer

Suzanne PostOp 4w014 gouache and conté on paper 24 x 18 inches

It is a dark time for me now. I feel a great deal of grief. A year ago exactly, my late wife Suzanne decided to stop her battle against cancer. Hemangiopericytoma. Nine years. She didn’t go to treatment that day, or ever again. I know I have posted the DEATH PAINTINGS before, perhaps all of them. I don’t know if I posted this gouache I painted just after her vertebrectomy in 2004.

Today was the Winter Solstice. Mehr Licht.

SEX PAINTING


Face First 81o002 oil on linen 24 x 36 inches

From the archives:
1981 Painted in the Hell’s Kitchen loft at 40th and 9th, across the street from The Bus Station. That corner reeks of Tom Waits music. But then, doesn’t every bus station and dive in every town in America.

Do I know you?
Let me taste you.
Can I face you
In the cold
Slap of morning light?

SEX AND SURRENDER at ARTEROTICA 6

SURRENDER 8w444 30 x 22 inches (detail) copyright 2008 Jonathan Herbert

sybarite productions proudly presents

JONATHAN HERBERT

four limited edition prints from

SEX AND SURRENDER

at ArteRoTica 6

an exhibition and performance of the erotic

THURSDAY

10 DECEMBER 2009

7PM TO MIDNIGHT

Madame X

94 West Houston Street, Greenwich Village

(all guests of Jonathan Herbert admitted free to nightclub)

You can click to be whisked to my newly updated website: biographical information and a number of recent bodies of work are on display, including images of my NAKED GIRL series and from my latest work SEX AND DEATH, inspired by my wife’s nine-year battle with cancer and her death on New Year’s Eve 2008, and by our innate erotic response to the harsh fact of our mortality.

Four limited edition prints from the larger series SEX AND SURRENDER, by JONATHAN HERBERT, will open at Madame X, 94 West Houston Street, on December 10th, from 7pm to midnight. The work is being mounted at the December ArteRoTica, a monthly event created and produced by Sybarite Productions, Inc., and partners.

SEX AND SURRENDER focuses on the erotic nature of power exchange. On view are limited edition prints of paintings of women who are sexually aroused by being tied up. Says Herbert, “The trinity of sex, death and redemption are the themes I explore in my art.”

Jonathan Herbert grew up in a house in which the walls were covered with paintings, drawings, and Japanese prints. He was a Museum of Modern Art regular from infancy, and has been an artist for forty years.

Since 2003 he has worked in a studio in the Fulton Ferry area of Brooklyn. It is obvious to even the casual viewer that Herbert has an abiding love affair with paint, the substance; like the alchemists, he works in a pre-scientific, pre-technological, approximate and mysterious world. Herbert graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

His website is www.jonathanherbert.com; recently he has begun to write about his artistic process his on this blog, as well as posting new work as it is shot.

WHAT IS WORK FOR AN ARTIST?

When I was a young art student at the Museum School in the 70’s, I was moping down the hall one day, depression blaring from my every cell. I admit it was because I could not get my latest obsession du jour to do the horizontal mambo with me, but my mentor and friend John Thompson, Dean of Students, was unaware of that.

Dean Thompson assumed rather that I was troubled by a dip in my creative output. He took me into his office and said, “Jonathan, when others are lying in the park watching the clouds go by, they are goofing off. When you do it, you are working! Remember that every artist needs fanny time as much as hand time.” Those words, exactly.

In this dark December, the first after the death of my wife, I look at my studio, devoid of new work for a month or so, and remember John Thompson’s words. I know I am still in process on both the DEAD SUZANNE and the new MASTURBATION paintings. I’ll post some sketches I’ve just completed when I shoot them.

DAYS GO BY…NO STUDIO TIME

I’ve been doing so much of the business chores of art, that it has been too long since I was in the studio. When I knew I wanted to be an artist, what I didn’t know was that one day I would be buried in inventories on excel while rebuilding a website, and social networking in a world of web2.0

I have more DEAD SUZANNE paintings to do…they are in my head. I am starting to the huge malaise that builds as days go by without painting.

The “new” profile picture is one of me in my studio around 1985 or so. It was at 1255 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The oil painting behind me is called Up First near the Queensborough, and I hope to find it in storage. It was one of a large body for work called VIEWS FROM A YELLOW CAB. Somebody wants to buy a print. I don’t remember selling it; 1985 is so far from these days of excel inventories and digital archiving of my work.

At least the new website is up!!