Inaugural Triangle Workshop 1982

Memories of the first year, the stories I can tell

I participated in the inaugural workshop of 82 along with Bob Scott and Terry Keller Peter Hide, Clay Ellis, Ken Macklin from Edmonton, and Joe Reeder from Red Deer, Canada, enlisted by Terry Fenton, then Director of the Edmonton Art Gallery. Marg Minkin and Sasha Silverstein who I’d met in 1980 and Jill Nathanson and Darby Bannard were there among other Americans. Toni had enlisted Jeff Hollow and a British contingent. The initial three centers of artistic activity. Canada, USA and England.

The country setting, facilities and food were good albeit it was 80 plus degrees with sweltering humidity. I stood at one end of a barn that had a hay door that looked down on Darby’s painting platform and watched him paint many of his Triangle shell or wave pictures. I was encouraging him to use more transparent glazes and he made some beautiful works that way, along with some opaque tan paintings. I had met Darby at the Emma Lake Workshop a year or so before and we had a good exchanges. I titled with him his shell motif paper works he made at Emma.

Clem liked the tan paintings best and Darby was somewhat upset at having listened to my advice, which I still think was good. The tan paintings were good too but the transparent glaze offered some fresh colour. I recall a healthy debate in the bar on the last night with Frank Stella’s brother in law enthralled by our exchange. Those shell pictures still look great today and I wish I had one.

I had a drum of acrylic shipped in and stretched out lengths of canvas 30 or so feet long and began my pouring technique of laying paint down in layers and causing it to craze over various collage pieces and then cropping out formations, mainly angular pictures, orientated diagonally on the wall. It was difficult to get things to dry with 87 % humidity and one night I left the lights on too late and had a pond of paint imbedded with insets. Getting fans became a quest of many of us. I think I only got two lengths dry and cropped just a few painting before I had to leave. I had to beg assistance from a friend to send some dry lengths later and some ended up in the bin, I think. Peter Bradley stored a piece in his stairwell at the Firehouse for a few years before I brought it back to Canada.

Helen Frankenthaler came to visit. I was given the role of collecting her from Long Island. From Pine Plains this was a challenging route and I had to borrow someone’s car to do so. I spent several hours trying to come up with a donor car with air conditioning. Marg Minkin came through and leant me her station wagon. On entering the front seat the first thing Helen commanded was for me to “turn off the air conditioning”. Once she had read the paper she became interested in the goings on at Triangle and after suggested we could make a detour to Martha’s Vineyard where she had wine made. Feeling the responsibility I had been entrusted, I suggested that everyone, (someone I hoped) was anticipating her arrival, but to my dismay everyone was in a panic readying their work for tomorrow's open day. Toni greeted us with a “Hello, take Helen down to the main house”. Darby was there.

I too was now in a fix readying what work I had dry and cropped, with this unexpected task, laid on me the night before at dinner by Toni at Peter Hide’s suggestion.

Ken Noland, Naomi Press had made a visit with Clement Greenburg some days earlier. Ken commented as he was being walked through that he liked the colour in my blue and white yellow pourings in the length, that Clem and Terry were less enthusiastic about, and they walked on without engaging me. There was somewhat of a dispute about my colour between Terry and I. The crazing needed contrast to be seen. When I went to a more naturalistic close value palette, that Fenton encouraged and Clem seemed to prefer, the uniqueness of my drawing, the crazing disappeared and I was left with an Olitski generic look. I had a dispute with Clem in front of the participants looking at my work. Clem pointed to an ochre ground with some thrown texture and said that was good. I agreed but said it was too Olitski like. Clem said “you don’t know what’s good” That stuck in my craw and I sent him a postcard later that summer in which I said, I had a right to choose and he might be right but time would tell. He was mad at me and would not see me in my visit to New York. We made up on his next visit to Edmonton and I saw him as usual again for drinks at 4p.m. whenever I visited NYC.

On my last visit with him in the late Fall of 1995 I asked him how his stay had been in his recent hospitalization. He exclaimed, “Everyone came to see me but no one had anything to say, I had to make all the conversation” I said “Clem they are all still afraid of you” he laughed, we laughed. I had great conversation with him and our differences became our talking points. A great man dearly missed although he was no angel, either.

Back to Triangle. Helen came by my studio and was very helpful. She said “something very strong is going on in these paintings, I am not ready for them yet, but my advice is to not listen to anyone and keep on going.” Karen Wilkin agreed. What more can one say? It has been 30 years, I am now 66 and have been ‘crazing’ my way through years of painting. If you want to see what I have done since then go to

The painting Ken Noland commented on is titled Triangle One and can be seen here

The Triangle Arts Association web site can be visited here

PS I do not have any photos of triangle 82; if any one does I’d love to have some.