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Current Paintings: 2020-2022

SEEKING QUESTIONS TO LIFE'S BIG ANSWERS

When I painted landscape imagery and the constructed environment years ago, I liked to talk about formal concerns: painting as map or diary or arena linking visual and verbal, conceptual and material, fact and fiction, abstraction and representation; not to mention a blend of styles and a viewer building bridges between disparate ideas. While all this remains true, with the paintings today I would say that, given how many images we are all bombarded with every day via the media, I am simply interested in making memorable ones.

The figure has taken center stage since the early 2000's, and there are perhaps four different levels on which one can consider the work: 1) on the beauty level, by which I mean the combination of painting media (watercolor, oil, ink) and styles (abstraction, representation) in a complementary tension that augments the imagery involved; 2) on a political level, in that my goal with the guys who dominate the images and constitute my muse is to populate an art world with them-- an art world where the female image, nude or otherwise, is about as normal as a burger and fries, while the male image continues to be considered, by some, suspect, and is thus in short supply; 3) on the textual level, presenting titles that can be read in varying ways and short stories that are written before or after the images come along, but in any case are springboards for the reader's imagination; and 4) on the transcendent level, an attempt to depict a thoughtful, if not vulnerable, Everyman, reaching beyond the fleeting surface idealization associated with youth and hopefully going far in terms of metaphor, poking around such timeless ideas as: truth, beauty, faith, time, the infinite, what we learn and what we know.

It may seem questionable indeed these days to even concern myself with such unanswerables, but in an era when political and spiritual leaders assert that they in fact have the answers for us all, I think that art has the capacity to imagine otherwise, to offer some transcendent spark to bridge the gap between intent and form, between idea and the evidence of our lives. Muse indeed.

Note: At times my focus is on paper works in series, for instance the MUSE/MUSEUM watercolors and TATTOO DETOUR drawings from Honolulu. Therefore, select images from these series have been incorporated onto this page along with the "usual" canvases. More images from these series can be found on their dedicated pages.  

 

 

2022 works

 

#2254 BLUE AND YELLOW (For Ukraine)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2249 WE BUILD THIS
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2248 THE NEW COLOSSUS, STILL
India ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, 30x22 inches

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2261 OUR VISIT TO TOLEDO (i.e. FRANCISCO)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2252 ALPHA
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2257 WE READ ABOUT A RIVER, AND WE HEARD ABOUT A RAFT; India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2260 AMAZING
India ink, gouache & watercolor on paper, 19x15 inches

#2258 WE HOLD THE RIVER
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

 

#2256 AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
India ink, watercolor, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2251 HORSE POWER (A Better Metaphor Could Not Be Had)
India ink, watercolor, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

    

#2242 PINK AND BROWN
India ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2259 STRINGER
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2253 IN THE SISTINE...
India ink, watercolor, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2240 WRITE OF SPRING
India ink & gouache on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2227 DUST
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2241 WHEN SO LATE BECOMES SO EARLY
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2236 GUSHER
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

  

#2221 HOT HOUSE
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2247 HOOK
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

 

#2252 ALPHA
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2243 THE DRIBBLE
India ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, 30x22 inches

#2228 MOON SHOT
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

 

#2219 AND WITH AN ESSAY BY SOMEBODY ON SOMETHING; India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

   

#2234 WALLPAPER FOR BOYS
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22X30 inches

     

#2239 MOUNTAIN TIME
India ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2244 MORNING SURF
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

x

#2224 FRIDAY, 10 P.M.
India ink, & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

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#2215 WAIT ROOM
India ink on paper, 22x30 inches

   

#2231 SEND FOR NO INFORMATION
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 x

  

#2230 THE PRAYER
India ink & watercolor on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

  

#2218 ON THE ROAD
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

  

#2229 OUR NEW FISHING BUDDY
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches


#2255 BETA
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2214 STILL LIFE WITH APPLES AND MEXICAN TIN CHICKEN India inK on paper, 19x15 inches

 

#2220 NIGHT GAME
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

  

#2232 IT'S ALL CONNECTED
India ink, watercolor & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 zzz 

  

   #2219 AND WITH AN ESSAY BY SOMEBODY ON SOMETHING; India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

  

#2216 FLAG
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22X30 inches

zzz 
  

#2225 MICKALENE THOMAS: A NEW LEAF
(from the MUSE/MUSEUM series)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2235 AND TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT (A TRUE STORY)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

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#2238 BEYOND THE PAIL
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

  

#2226 I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

zzzzzz

#2222 LANDSCAPE WITH TREE AND BASKETBALLS
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22X30 inches

 

 

2020-2021 works (Not including the COMPANY series, which is on the next page) (Click here)
Many works are India ink on paper, 30x22 inches or 22x30 inches. After #2083 they can also include elements in oil and gouache.
Click on all for enlargements.

 

#2158 We Are, After All, Just Ink Drawn on Paper;
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2203 Shall
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

    

Jack Balas, 2021; FAREWELL TO A FRIEND #2199;
India ink and gouache on paper, 30x22 inches

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2202 Subscribe (Moose)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2206 We Start With a Drawing By Matisse (And Then We Make It Better)  India ink, gouache & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches

 

#2197 I Am My Catalog Raisonne
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2205 Give
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2149 Mountain State (GO)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

  

#2207 EVE AND DAY (ALWAYS IN PROGRESS)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

  

#2159 This Last Day of October (A Rake's Progress)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2150 WideScreen
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2201 Tree -- Etre
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2155 Arrowhead
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2200 This Is How It Starts (Flock of Birds)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2198 SHRINE
India ink & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

 

#2196 Your Invitation Is Even Now Being Penned
(The Herndon Climb)
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2139 CUE
India ink, oil, & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

 

#2105 Evening Would Know Our Reverie
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2156 YOXHAKx (Lesson)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

#2158
WE ARE, AFTER ALL, JUST INK DRAWN ON PAPER;
India ink, gouache & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2157 What Would You Do?
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2154 Kiss
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches




#2126 PLAN B (Forgot the Damn Rocks!)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2125 It's All Been a Self-Portrait
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2128 Scrimshaw
Oil, enamel, acrylic and ink on canvas diptych, 46x84 inches overall

 

#2133 The Main Event
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

Buddy # 2141 (wolf)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

#2153 Museum of Autumn Days
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

Buddy # 2135 (chair)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

#2097 We Do Not Tire of Painting (Sunset)
India ink, oil & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

#2147 Some Geese Flew Over the Yard
India ink on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

        SPREADS
  

 

 

#2103 Save-On, Whitehorse
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2149 Mountain State (GO)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

# 2089 Escape From Crown Hall 
India ink, oil & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

#2123 Off To College
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2114 Path
India ink & watercolor on paper, 22x30 inches

#2116 Log
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

  xxxxx 

#2127 The Journey (Pike's Peak)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2094 Friday at 5
India ink & oil on paper, 30x22 inches


SPREADS

 

#2119 The Day Could Not Have Been More Perfect to Tell Him
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2112 The Upper Hand
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2121 Pike's Peak
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

#2104 Full Sail
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2120 How to Build Cathedrals
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2115 Dog Day
India ink & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

 

#2094 Friday at 5
India ink & oil on paper, 30x22 inches

     

#2098 Over Some Rainbow
India ink & oil on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2113 Right and Left (or, Left And Right)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches


#2124 Test Line
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

zzz

#2078 Day Job For the Night Sky 2
Oil and enamel on canvas, 20x24 inches

zzz

#2100 Big
oil & enamel on canvas, 16x16 inches

#2122 Running Home
Oil, enamel, acrylic and ink on canvas, 48x60 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 #2107--1861--1645 We Fill Each Page
(oil & ink on canvas, 20x16 inches)

 #2106-- Headlands --Bluff
(oil & enamel on canvas, 20x16 inches)

  

#2138 Home At Last  (Atlas)
India ink on paper, 30x22 inches

#2109 IN(ter)DEPENDENCE DAY (In Question July 4, 2021)
India ink on paper, 22x30 inches


#2111 Some Calendar Page
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2086 A True Story
ndia ink & oil on paper, 22x30 inches

#2102--1527 Study for Sleeping Bag
India ink & acrylic on paper with collage, 30x22 inches

 

#2087 Pavilion
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

   

#2084 I Never Knew I Was Lost (Until I Was Found)
India ink & oil on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2076 Names Change
(oil on canvas, 20x16 inches)

                    #2093 Picnic
                   India ink & oil on paper, 30x22 inches

#2080 TOP
(oil on paper, 19x15 inches)

 

#2077 ENSV
(oil on canvas, 20x16 inches)

 

#2081 JETTY
(oil on paper, 19x15 inches)

 

#2092 Memorial Revision
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2083 Some Days
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2079 SNAG
(oil on paper, 19x15 inches)

   

 Jack Balas, 2021
WHEN THEY SPOTTED ME (#2085)
oil & India ink on paper, 22x30 inches

When they spotted me and realized I was taking their photo, his buddies laughed and turned away. But he stayed, froze, actually. Click. Turned a bit, froze. Click.
Turned, froze. Click.
What would they say, sixteen years later, of today's painting?

 

#2071 Our Hero's Rose Eros Shore
India ink & oil on paper, 22x30 inches


#2064 Boy Leading a Picasso
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2091 Float
India ink & oil on paper, 22x30 inches


#2085 When They Spotted Me
India ink & oil on paper, 22x30 inches


 

#2043 Way Bigger Than
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2049 Story: Write It Down, Bring It Home
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2062 Down and Across
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches



#2090 We Arrived Ready to Paint the World
India ink, oil & acrylic on 2 paper panels, 30x45 inches overall

  

#2036 Back Story
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

#2055 Screen
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2037 He-Art
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

  

#2057 Thirteen Years Later (Mom)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 
   xx

Jack Balas, 2021;
LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI (BACKFLIP) (#2063);
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

 

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI was not on my reading pile the day I set out on my bike from my Illinois town to the river, two days there and two back, my junior summer in college. Hills, corn fields, little towns I'd never seen. Met two brothers running a gas station across the road from their house, and wound up staying with them that first and last night. The night close to the river a farm lady let me sleep out on a chaise on her front lawn, sloping down to a view of cows. She even brought me a blanket. I made it to Savanna, crossed the long bridge to Iowa dodging the toll booth & then back, even met another kid on a bike from Michigan going cross country. He was amazed my bike was only a one-speed. Life is good.

  

#2065 First Day Spring
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2061 Site
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2060 This Year in Jerusalem
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2038 Best Picture
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2051 Synecdoche
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

#2073 That Age Old Story
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2063 Life on the Mississippi  (BACKFLIP)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

#2056 Crossing the Rubicon
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2048 Wall - All
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2030 Summer Count (Study 1)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

 

#2039 Team
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches

  

#2059 Self-Portrait after 50 Years of Painting
India ink & acrylic on paper, 30x22 inches
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR TEXT

 

 #2044 Spot
India ink & on paper, 22x30 inches


#2053 Old Map, New Step (The Journey)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

  ZZ 

#2046 Story at Sunset (Boxers)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

   

#2045 Contemplate
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

   

#2054 This is Where
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches


#2040 Skies Are Blue 
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 vvv 

#2047 Alphabet at Sunset (Cowboys)
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches


 

#2058 Stitch
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2042 Whisper
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 

#2052 Test
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

mmmm

#2082 Patient
oil on paper, 15x19 inches

 

#2041 Hot Bed
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

v

#2051 Synecdoche
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches


#2050 That Book We Never Write... Until Now?
India ink & acrylic on paper, 22x30 inches

 


2020 works
(January-March, before the COMPANY series)

 

2025 CATCH
(But the story is the one that got away...)

 (from the COMPANY series)

FOUNTAIN


LA PARED, NOGALES

Permanent Collection Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ.

COMPANY (Series)

 

PLOT TWIST

 

PALACE

2010 I'm Possible

(from the COMPANY series)

 



SERIES: MUSE / MUSEUM
ALL YEARS

 

CATS N DOGS

ON THE BORDER

LA FRONTERA (OR IS IT?)

   

THE DRAWING ROOM

 

 

   

Jack Balas, 2020; CACTUS FLOWERS (#1892); Watercolor, acrylic and India ink on paper, 22x30 inches

text:
The cactus flowers are coming out, pink and lemon and tangerine skins swarmed by bees and protected by needles. I've been doing what I call Corona walks, what with the virus going around this last month keeping everyone at home or inside. I'm out on a street I've never walked down before, looking at these flowers and small brick houses and trunks of palm trees, when there on one corner are two college boys shirtless in the morning sun, working out with weights and a bench in their front yard, doing dips on the chainlink gate. I had to laugh at myself, how all my thoughts got short-circuited. The university has been closed for a month and students were asked to leave town if they could, but here were two left, and I made myself ask innocent questions about their gear as I passed, and careful to swing by around as I went home. But today I had to go back to prove it could be done, and sure enough they were nowhere to be seen, so I was able to return to looking at houses and tree trunks and even cactus flowers, equally stunning and just as untouchable.

 

YOU NEAR NEW YEAR

FOUR BRIDGES (Study)

CACTUSHEAD:
AS WE HAVE BEEN TRAINED

POLAR ROUTE

CACTUS FLOWERS

THE BIG QUESTION (ZIGGURAT)



 

COMPANY SERIES GRID (March-December 2020)
The 2020 series to figuratively "keep me company" while the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the world. (Click on image to go to the page)

 

 

 

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