Writing addict & adept
At age five, I won my first writing award: a three-foot-long fire truck with an ear-splitting siren. I’ve been addicted to writing ever since. It earned me most of my college tuition, a four-week trip to Greece, and a ten-day Caribbean cruise. Oh, yes, and mortgage payments: my current day job is describing rare books in such an enticing way that customers are eager to pay my boss thousands of dollars for them. I also do freelance editing, writing, and copywriting (testimonials here): email me for info on rates.
On my own time (I have mad time management skills!), I’m a tour guide, independent researcher, freelance writer, and lecturer. My insatiable curiosity has led me to comment on the arts, food, history, politics, and the business of writing and publishing. (Here’s the All-Inclusive List.) The challenge of figuring out how ideas and facts fit together, and then sharing what I know with others, clearly and concisely – that’s what makes me leap out of bed in the morning.
Art & art history
When I was 17, my high-school art teacher lent me Janson’s History of Art. It was my first clue that art was more than the rock-star posters and garden gnomes that I saw in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, and that history wasn’t just a series of names, dates, and statistics. Soon afterwards I read Ayn Rand’s fiction and nonfiction works, and discovered that art and history – as well as politics, ethics, science, and all fields of human knowledge – are integrated by philosophy. My approach to studying art is based on Rand’s The Romantic Manifesto. (More on that here.)
As an art historian I’m a passionate amateur, and I write for other passionate amateurs. I love looking at art, and thinking about art, and helping other people have a blast looking at it, too.
- Hamilton Man and Musical, a two-volume compilation of blog posts from 2016 and 2017 in which I use writings of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza, George Washington, Angelica, Burr, and others to stitch together an image of Hamilton’s life, times, and ideas. These posts accompany my book Alexander Hamilton: A Brief Biography for Kindle and print-on-demand books. (My tour Hamilton: Words and Images is a brief bio of Hamilton with substantial excerpts from his writings, and many opportunities for fellow fanatics to burst into song.)
- Central Park: The Early Years. Focuses on the choices and chances (ca. 1850-1880) that brought about an oasis we think of as inevitable. The book is an offshoot of a year of research for a series of short videos on Central Park for Guides Who Know (in production), and includes scads of archival photos.
- Innovators in Painting, the companion to Innovators in Sculpture, is a jargon-free overview that focuses on innovations that gave artists greater power to make viewers stop, look, and think about paintings.
Outdoor sculpture in New York City
Since 2002, I’ve written extensively on outdoor representational sculpture in New York City. I believe that art at its best is emotional fuel, and while these sculptures don’t rival Michelangelo’s David, many of them are extremely well executed and represent people whose achievements are inspiring.
I offer walking tours of many sculptures in New York: details here. My NYC sightseeing guide license is 2043740-DCA.
My website www.ForgottenDelights.com was created in 2002 to celebrate such sculptures. (Most of my writing on sculpture still lives there.) Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide (New York University Press, 2007), which includes 54 sculptures, was described by Sam Roberts in the New York Times as “a perfect walking-tour accompaniment to help New Yorkers and visitors find, identify and better appreciate statues famous and obscure” (1/28/2007).
In 2014, Guides Who Know published a “translation” of the book as Monuments of Manhattan, a videoguide app. It includes 108 narrated segments (with much material not in the book), thousands of archival images, original music, and GPS info.
I don’t consider non-representational works to be art. Usually I don’t bother to discuss them. But if you’re up for a good rant, try this one on Christo’s Gates or this one on the Turner Prize (2005).
Yes, I talk, too
I’ve given dozens of lectures on art history and on outdoor sculptures in New York. The list of tours is here.
Words I live by
- Knowledge is never wasted except on those too lazy to use it. (Did I mention I have a PhD in Classical Philology, and can read 10 or so languages?)
- Aut inveniam via aut faciam: I shall either find a way or make one.
- A is A.