This is the Sandbox


There's a new feedback page

It's worth remembering that this is Hypertext, meaning that links can (and should) be embeded in the copy, not isolated and separate, like 'click on that link over there': link.

Note that mousing over those links -- doesn't work on tablets, because they can't 'mouse over' -- can render explanations of what the links do, specified in the link title.

Links that provide backup information or support material, being of less direct interest than the actual content, should be rendered as below, in a smaller, less formal typeface.

link to support material

Also worth remembering: the easiest way to implement a feature (like the centered support link above) is to copy the code – find it by clicking the ... in the edit screen and then the pair of angle brackets <> -- and paste it where it's wanted, then alter it to suit the purpose.

- M  ;>


PS (11Nov23): I have been remiss in checking this page and updating. I will attempt to do better in future. 

Experiment freely
(no one is looking)

Gurdon Miller

Second Sandbox Page!

photos page: What is meant by John Richardson's Camera Obscura? maybe this: Different John Richardson. I haven't heard back from him about a photo of his camera obscura on a  trailor .

background image off
11 November 2023 - from Michael:

I sure do see a lot of duplicated material here, and conclude that you're using the Sandbox page well! I'm thinkin' that once something gets perfected (or at least polished) here and moved somewhere else, it could be deleted from here, maybe with a note (this material moved to chunk#[whatever]).

There's a new trick in town: variable column widths. For example, this is a 'type 55' meaning that the ten notional quanta of page width are distributed equally, 50% to each, instead of the prevailing 70% 30% of a type 73.

I use variable column widths to balance content when a chunk is nearing 'doneness.'

How to change column proportions

In the editing screen for a given chunk, change the type to the desired proportion. Only the first digit is significant (the system subtracts that from 10 to derive the size of the right column) so the type: 55 for this chunk is what sets the columns equal. 

Note that the image and alt prompts DO NOT WORK on chunks other than type 73 and the first chunk on a page . . . and at this time the variable proportion chunks cannot be the first chunk on a page.

Link to Sandbox 2

Post-Modernism is Just Another in a Series of Styles Within Modernism


I am a Northern California Bay Area Painter

I had the good fortune major in art at Berkeley when there were faculty members present who were part of the post-war Bay Area  Abstract Expressionist movement.  The curriculum reflected the influence of Abstract Expressionism. My paintings reflect this influence.


Tension Between Axes


What is the point of producing artwork in the present moment, or any moment? Western art history describes an evolution from illustrating the sacred, whatever that may have been believed to be at various points in time, to the present, where some individuals maintain that there can be art without content, purpose or meaning.

I want to explain what I think I am doing as an artist and why. 

Modernism is supposed to have ended sometime in the 1960s. Much that has been written about this alleged transformation is confused, if not nonsensical, and, in any event, is unhelpful to the  artist trying to situate himself or herself in the 21st century. A useful exception is the work of Hans Belting, particularly The Invisible Masterpiece, and Art History After Modernism.

In Invisible Masterpiece, Belting chronicles the history of the idea of the masterpiece and how its significance changed in the Renaissance as the role of art changed from religious explanation to individual expression. Belting describes the diminution of the importance of the individual artwork to the point where it is claimed by some that a work itself is unnecessary.

He describes the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1913, and how the theft contributed to the commodification of this painting. The process  continued through Duchamp’s moustache and goatee representation of the painting and his subsequent involvement in diminishing the importance of the work of art. Belting describes how such alienation of artworks is tied in with conceptual art and other manifestations of post-Modernism.

At the end of his life Duchamp reversed himself and asserted the primacy of tangible works of art by leaving detailed instructions for the posthumous completion  of an installation - Étant donnés (Invisible Masterpiece, 329-32) The link is to the Philadelphia Museum's page on Étant donnés.




As Susan Buck-Morss puts it with respect to the work of Walter Benjamin:

The Passagen-Werk suggests that it makes no sense to divide the era of capitalism into formalist “modernism,” and historically eclectic “post-modernism,” as these tendencies have been there from the start of industrial culture. The paradoxical dynamics of novelty and repetition simply repeat themselves anew.

Modernism and post-modernism are not chronological eras, but political positions in the century-long struggle between art and technology. If modernism expresses utopian longing by anticipating the recognition of social function and aesthetic form, post-modernism acknowledges their nonidentity and keeps fantasy alive. Each position thus represents a partial truth; each will recur anew,” so long as the contradictions of commodity society are not overcome.

The Dialectics of Seeing, p. 359


test 5

Gurdon Miller

The assertion of the elimination of the work, let alone the masterpiece, as a necessary outcome of the process of making art, does not convince me that the physical work of art can or should be dispensed with.


Add a discussion of AGENCY in the context of  Gesamtkunstwerk, Wagner and current (2019) ring cycle with electronic /LED and other effects, several stage managers, etc.

The work has had its range expanded. Alfred Leslie’s move to, if not invention of, hyperrealism in the 1960s might be considered reactionary, especially when considered in the context of the subsequent trajectory of realism, at least in North America. It was, in fact, confrontational, as he stated at the time. 

He has produced a large oeuvre on several themes, at a grand scale and in a variety of mediums (several series of large paintings), films, watercolors, and--for the last twenty years--large digital paintings that he refers to as “Pixel Scores.” 

The artist’s career encompasses the art world from the end of World War II to the present moment. It supports my understanding that this period of time should be viewed as a continuum, not a series of stages as it has been fashionable for the art press to assert.






A work of any kind is currently considered acceptable, from painstakingly executed technically demanding pieces to ephemeral actions requiring neither manifestation of technical competence nor creative risk.

The issue really isn’t a particular work itself, but rather the context within which it is produced.

A metaphysical, let alone divine, source for subject or content is not susceptible to rational discussion.

The Brechtian argument for socially useful work falls short as it denies the autonomy of the individual.



I first observed madrone trees when I came to Northern California in the fall of 1963. The forms and colors of madrone have an enduring aesthetic  appeal to me. The red circle painting above incorporates a motif, which I frequently employ, based on madrone branches.

  Madrone branch

Gurdon Miller

After working through Brecht’s dialectical approach Benjamin concluded that the “. . . images of the unconscious are thus formed as a result of concrete, historical experiences, not (as with Jung’s archetypes) biologically inherited.” (Dialectics, p. 278.)

I've found in a recent (2004 in German, 2010 in English) book by Uwe Steiner on Walter Benjamin, in which the author gives a description of Benjamin’s discussion of Critique of Pure Reason, which quotes Kant to the effect, “ ... ‘that all speculative knowledge is limited to objects of experience,’ and that we can have knowledge of things only insofar as they present themselves as objects of sensory perception, that is, as phenomena.”

I'm excited by encountering the source of Benjamin's materialism in Kant and also learning that Steiner employed the phrase sensory experience of perception, which describes the act of perception as a neurological process. 

[Steiner's book provides a citation to the Benjamin piece, and,]

I hope this leads to the original coinage of the phrase, and, ultimately, to the origins of this idea about the nature of perception.


(1) I understand an artwork to be the product of an autonomous artist, not beholden to theocracy, the bourgeois market place, a need to be socially useful, nor even the desire to resolve dialectic tensions. 

 (2) An artwork is the product of the autonomous artist, not beholden to theocracy, the bourgeois market place, a need to be socially useful, nor even to resolve dialectic tensions.

Add passage on AGENCY

To this I add my own compulsion to produce tangible works of art, which I consider products of innate talent, informed by study and practice, and refracted through an intensely militant individuality.

I do not rely for a living on the sale of my work.

February, 2011; revised May, 2018

Painting page

Google “City as Symbol”































After working through Brecht’s dialectical approach Benjamin concluded that the “. . . images of the unconscious are thus formed as a result of concrete, historical experiences, not (as with Jung’s archetypes) biologically inherited.” (Dialectics, p. 278.)

[ latest sky water image]   [ Hubble 14 billion light years away image] [dramatic sunset photo]

Each of these images evokes a response not mediated by, nor dependent upon, the meaning of the content.


My paintings are not about whatever subject matter might be discernable in the motif. The circular form images appearing throughout the website include paintings, photographs, a sketch on a napkin, and book illustrations. Some of these images have discernable, sometimes literal, content, ranging from the astrophysical to the metaphysical.


Other images, while non-objective, are traditionally linked to 



The circular form images appearing throughout the website include paintings, photographs, a sketch on a napkin, and book illustrations. Some of these images have discernable, sometimes literal, content, ranging from the astrophysical to the metaphysical.


Other images, while non-objective, are traditionally linked to 


I’m not sure where my paintings come from. Not literally, of course, the underlying motif of this painting is obviously the view across Flathead Lake. There are several paintings in my studio on this motif (a few of which are annoyingly literal). The sunset motif is closely tied, as well, to the Moon on the Water Koan. 

And there are other paintings with different motifs (in addition to madrone branches). Photos of the universe come to mind, one in particular, that shows an array of bright spots – some merely specks – others clearly spiral galaxies.


What the paintings are about is how the viewer apprehends the sensory experience of perceiving them. How does it make you feel when you look at the painting? 


I experience distinctive, simultaneously occurring physical reactions, one, a couple of inches below the center of where my rib cage ends (solar plexus), another at the back of my neck in the muscles above the prominent vertebra where the skull meets the spine, and, a third, which is about the size and shape that can be covered by placing the tips of the four fingers of my right hand -back to front - near the middle of the top of my head a little to the right of center. This last feeling starts on the skin, and seems as if it extends down through the bone and into my brain.


Beyond this immediate reaction, I am at a loss to describe the particular feeling that comes over me when I look at a painting or a photograph. This also sometimes occurs as I am moving through the world, and what I see in front of me snaps into sharp relief and I feel the way I do when I look at a painting. 


When I am out photographing, I am consciously looking for places that snap into sharp focus, offering the possibility that a photographic print might catch whatever it is that evokes this reaction. Ansel Adams used the expression previsualization. He may have meant what I’m trying to describe.

' ... , an activity of seeing the world little more clearly by clarifying the language and thoughts we use to describe it. ...  One is left, in Wittgenstein's words, to 'wonder at the existence of the world,' which is precisely the opposite of explaining it fully. '

'Being and Time: How Wittgenstien, Benjamin, Cassierer and Heidegger altered the way we see.' John Klagg,  NY Times Book Review, September 27, 2020. Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy

by Wolfram Eilenberger


When all a viewer sees is the subject matter, they are missing out on the primary experience of what they are looking at.


[ IMG_ 4283.jpg]  

 [dramatic sunset photo]

[IMG_2593 2.jpg]

[ Hubble 14 billion light years away image]

Painting page

Contemplating such an image, in which every spot of light is a galaxy, one gets a sense of the size of the universe. At that scale our galaxy is a grain of sand, our solar system a speck of dust, and Earth too small to be seen.(this passage was superseded.)

This is some code


(ideas page) artFundamentalism


Opposition to Modernism

Paris link 

Modernism still evokes irrational passionate opposition that has little to do with the nature, let alone the merit, of the works in question.


Robert Adams in his 1981 book, Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values, referring to the sources of great artists (Cezanne, Delacroix, and Matisse, in this case), writes -- in remarkably Quranic language -- “each, great as he was, understood that creations out of nothing are possible only for God.” (my emphasis) (p. 88). “Art that mirrors the order in the Creation itself [has not been] the subject of the art of [the 20th] century.”(p. 30).


Adams appears ignorant of the history of 20th Century painting. 


Cross Cultural Digression 


The quoted passage above jumped off the page when I read it. The ironic contrast between the Islamic view that depicting the human form is sinful, and Adams’s Christian assertion that representational art is necessarily grounded in an aesthetic appreciation of God’s creation, is striking. 






Adams asserts, as does the Quran, “Creations out of nothing are possible only for God.” Adams goes on to denigrate modern artworks that “have interesting shapes, etc., and are of trifling interest.” 


In Islam, the depiction of people, or of animals with breath and voice, is blasphemous. Abstract geometric patterns and elaborate calligraphy are preferred. 


An elaborate system of geometrical abstraction forms the basis for non-objective art that is largely, if not entirely, foreign to Western art and the way westerners apprehend art. 


How one looks at art is a function of how one sees.


(Belting, Florence and Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science.)


A form can manifest, or represent, shape, or space. It can have color, either enclosed in it, or as in the open color of Raoul Dufy, a form encompassed by a line might be one form, and an area of open color partially occupying the delineated form might constitute a separate form, overlapping the outlined one, resulting in a complex intersection between two forms -- one defined by an outline, the other defined by an area of color.






















I grew up, and still live, in California, with layovers in northern New Mexico, the Hudson Valley, and central New Jersey. I am most familiar with that part of the United States between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Divide. 

12/12/2022, Edgewater



I have travelled in North America, in Europe, and in Asia, over a sufficient span of time to apprehend the rapid, dramatically accelerating, and dreadfully destructive, transformation of the earth during my lifetime


 It is obvious to me that the cumulative and rapid acceleration ef urbanization and global warming are transforming our world in ways that are dreadful to contemplate.


place to work on RANT


Carl Sauer, Clarence Glacken, Paul Wheatley, their colleagues, and their students, wrote compellingly about the appreciation of nature (from a perspective in which scientific understanding and aesthetic apprehension of place are considered together), and the transformation of the natural environment by human agency. It is obvious and inevitable that human activity, which has accelerated exponentially since the beginning of the industrial revolution, is stamping out the earth’s beauty, compromising its capacity to support humanity — destroying the world as it is.


Taking it in all at once is overwhelming, and nearly unbearable. I struggle to understand and describe it. The deceitfulness  and selfishness of the perps – there's no need to name them all – leaves me incredulous. Yes they are greedy, but how can they be so greedy that they willingly consign their descendants, people who will remember their names, to such a miserable fate?


Taking it in all at once is overwhelming, and nearly unbearable. I struggle to understand and describe the scope and devastation of the transformation. The deceitfulness and selfishness of the perps – there’s no need to name them all – leaves me incredulous. Yes they are greedy, but how can they be so greedy that they willingly consign humanity to such a miserable fate?

Art, from prehistoric cave paintings to the end of the Middle Ages has provided its audience with picturesof things are not true.


If it’s environmental collapse, it will be protracted and grindingly miserable. If it’s war games, it will be immediate, cataclysmic, and unimaginably awful — global warming, or nuclear effacement. 




One of the themes of The Rise of the West is the author's thesis of a connection between the superiority of weapons technology, logistics, and military tactics that developed parallel to the cultural evolution of the West, thereby enabling the West to achieve global hegemony. 

If it’s environmental collapse, it will be protracted and utterly miserable. If it’s war games, it will be immediate and acutely miserable. One or the other seems unavoidable – global warming or nuclear winter. 


 MISCELLANY STORAGE (begun 10/13/2020 - Mars opposition)


Note from conversation between SQS, Michael Creal, and me. Michael asked how can the 40% who follow Trump believe his lies?Steven pointed out that religion is based on faith in unverifiable premises.

This prompted the thought that capacity for belief seems to me to be innately human. Moreover, recent snippets of news suggest that scientists claim to have ascertained that certain animals may have a sense of a supreme being. I have to check this out.  

It may be that people respond to certain behaviors, the soothing voice and cadence of preaching and oratory (Arthur Godfrey, and Garner Ted Armstrong  from the Worldwide Church of God  on the radio in New Mexico. Music, preaching, calming voices, etc, all sooth people, some animals. ...

This seems to me to tie into the idea of the sensory experience -- You hear a soothing voice. As a three year old I heard Arthur Godfrey’s voice on the radio and it made me feel good --same with the voice of Garner Ted's voice, reinforced by a rousing hymn. 

Notes for People Page

“Lene,” Arlene Washburn, Fourth grade teacher, family friend, friend and mentor. Lene, whom I had to call Miss Washburn when she was my fourth grade teacher, taught me to draw and paint, how to use water colors, how to learn. She also set an example for living, and dying.

Lene arranged for me to show my work to Madam Chouinard who encouraged me to apply to The Chouinard Art Institute  MFA program. I was not able to do so, but her endorsement reinforced my belief in my talent.

link to youtube on Cezanne Mont sainte Victoire from Bibimus


 New Mexico -- Toddler on the ranch, summers in Santa Fe, Uncle Howell's dude ranch, “The Lazy Ray”, near Jemez Springs, The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Taos Moderns: memories of what I have seen, read, and experienced.

May 20, 2023

I’ve spent recent weeks/months painting somewhat more compulsively than I usually do, and reading Peter Selz’s 1957 book German Expressionist Painting.

I started to read Peter Selz’s 1957 book German Expressionist Painting. in the fall of 1963. I and stopped after the second chapter. I wish I’d continued to read it then. 

Selz described the relationship between German-speaking Miteuropa, and Western Europe (basically Paris between the last decade of the 19th century and the beginning of WW I.), as one of many interactions between artists from most of Europe – from Moscow to London, and from Norway to Italy – and numerous international exhibits showing the work of artists from both realms.

I graduated from university believing Paris to be the center of it all. I, of course, knew about the Russian artists, especially between the end of the Bolshevik revolution and the 1921 imposition of party control of the arts. I also knew about the German Expressionists, and their suppression by the Nazis. 

I did not, however, have a clue about the decade or so when the European art world included almost everyone.

. . .

I’m starting to try to figure out how to integrate all of this into the website.


And, to post several recent paintings that somehow have benefited from my reading Selz’s book, and from staring at riparian woodlands, and thinking about how whether or not it matters if something that appears to have a representational aspect.


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