By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
"After that little talk, the chef was very careful about asking me to work hours that were unreasonably long. And I have never done that to anyone who worked under me. All because of Danko."
Chef Beverly spends her winters in South Bend, Indiana, where she lectures students in various writing classes.
"I tell them romantic tales about Globe and how we had the last hanging in 1945 and actually had a whorehouse listed in the phone book until about the same time."
As a teenager, Chef Beverly spent three years hitchhiking cross-country. When she ran out of money, she would wire Danko Gurovich for car fare home.
"I have an incredible memory," she says. "I have learned about passion. I have learned about respect.
"Something else," she says. "I have learned that the most important resource we have is people, not computers. I've been around long enough to know the difference between bullshit and the real stuff."
ù ù ù
Donna Groot is spending the summer painting water lilies. She is a tall, angular woman with high cheekbones and the drawn look of a model. At Ox-Bow on a partial scholarship, she works three meals a day in the kitchen under Chef Beverly, and she wears Levis and a sweatshirt. "I look around me and see all these incredibly talented people and learn they are only 22," she says. "I didn't even begin painting until I was 22."
In her small studio, Groot has placed a water lily in a vase atop a three-foot-high table. She paints the same thing over and over. Sometimes the colors change.
She shows me some copy she has written for a brochure that she hopes will make it possible to have a showing of her own.
"I am painting the water lilies in the lagoon. This flower has a spirit of its own. I am searching for the essence of things. "There is happiness but there is also sadness. I'm not afraid to let the color speak for itself."
Groot watches closely as I read, perhaps wondering what I think about her writing skills.
"This is one of the first flowers, they come from the beginning of time."
She tells me her painting all comes from memories of the past.
"There was a trip to the Mediterranean, to Spain and Greece. They provide impetus. There was the incredible color of the sea.
"But my water lilies are inspired by a canoe trip here at Ox-Bow. I find it fascinating how they can at the same time float and be so deeply rooted."
Groot peers deeply into the bright yellow flower on the canvas in front of her. It is a great size, enough to dominate a very big room.
"It all comes out of your hand," she says, almost surprised. "It is, after all, only the manipulation of paint on canvas."
Donna Groot holds up her left hand. She smiles and nods knowingly.
ù ù ù As an art school, Ox-Bow ranks with Yaddo in Saratoga Springs in New York and with McDowell in New Hampshire. The students this year range from 17 to 73 and they come from all parts of the United States. The tuition is high and they love the chance to get away to a spot where they can work though the entire night to finish a project if they so choose.
ù ù ù
Danny Marder, 26, toured the country with a rock n' roll band for four years. He played the guitar, saxophone, keyboards and wrote songs. Now he's a full-time student at the Art Institute of Chicago. This summer he is learning, among other things, the art of glass blowing.
The son of a deceased surgeon, Danny's appearance is singular, if not fearsome. As a rock performer, Danny was accustomed to wearing black. Now Danny walks about camp wearing a black leather jacket, black pants and black shoes. With a pair of shears, he gave himself a haircut. So part of his head is shaved, Mohawk-style. But the lines of his hair aren't straight. It is as if the ritual were performed by a drunken medicine man. "When I was growing up, everyone was selling drugs and I was singing in bars," he says. "Somehow it seemed more ethical."
Danny works long hours in front of the furnace at his glass blowing. But he is discouraged. There is a 22-year-old Japanese glass blower who everyone in camp believes is a genius.
"He's so great," Danny says. "For me it doesn't come easy."
You watch the furnaces glow. You feel the intense heat and you see the ease with which the young Japanese artist works. Beside him there is an unusually tall woman who is working every bit as hard and as long. She is spending the summer making glass baby pacifiers.
Danny insists he made an artistic breakthrough. The tale, apocryphal or not, has become the talk of the camp. Late one night, while assured of privacy, Danny created a painting by employing his penis rather than a paint brush.
Danny laughs uproariously: "If you didn't know, you'd think it was a finger painting," he says.
ù ù ù
The subject of hard times in the art world is not far from the surface.
Bob McClurg has two part-time jobs. He teaches at both the Art Institute of Chicago and Barat College in suburban Chicago. His job at the Art Institute pays $11,000 a year.