Influence Conversation: Frank Gaard and Alexa Horochowski

An e-mail exchange between artists Frank Gaard and Alexa Horochowski.

Snow 100

Intellectual and aesthetic discourse constitute the foundation of any creative community. This spring, in an effort to elucidate and encourage relationships among members of’s community, we invited a few artists to have a conversation with an artist who has either influenced them or been influenced by them. Published as Feature articles in May and June, these dialogues will appear along with small collections of the artists’ work. The first conversations is an email exchange between Alexa Horochowski and Frank Gaard.

Colin Rusch Community Manager

On Apr 18, 2005, at 12:44 PM, Frank wrote:

Say Alexa – Looking at the most recent jpg you sent I was reminded of my love for Milo Manara the artist/illustrator from Barcelona. I found great inspiration in his work and esspecially in his dick drawings and paintings, he always made his cocks big and very prominent as some of his appeal is to the gay erotic audience. If you can find some of his books I think you’ll dig his figures and color. It may help you get past some of the conventions in your figures that make them look like they are boneless (and I don’t mean dickless I mean bones, which give form to bodies). Sometimes you have to reach towards other paradigms to break out of personal bag of cliches. Lately I find gay porn much more exciting than het porn, and Manara has a flair for both and for picture making. He does some more conventional strips too so you might have to dig for the hot stuff. If you make a penis the center of a composition he should be a dick worth looking at, in your painting it’s hidden in plain sight.. later Franko

jpg – Nietzsche penis (detail)

Alexa – Have you ever met Siri Enberg a curator who works at Walker. I saw her last night at the Walker Theatre. She looks older I have’nt seen her in 10 years. She might show interest in your art, she’s the Polke lover at WAC. I think she could do a show of yours if she wanted to (enough ) – but I’d like to see such a show, the best of Alexa Horochowski in North Amerika . Painting a alot, penises, curling up to sleep.
These Pakistanis at Walker had so much fire, they don’t ask the question is singing worth the effort? Painters for 50 years are all doubting painting. Which is like expecting poetry to stop one afternoon after siesta.


On April 19, 2005 1:16 PM Alexa wrote:

Hey Frank,

Yeah, I’ve been barking up the wrong tree. I sent Philippe my work but haven’t heard a peep. I know there were some curators in town for the big opening bash and Philippe sent them to various studios. I was not one of them. I never heard of Siri Enberg. Kind of you to think of me and my paintings. Should I mention your name when I send her work? It’s funny, but I always assume that no one has seen my work, even in this small town.

Hey, I’m going to be featured in some mnartists exhibit and they want to include a conversation about art stuff. I suggested you, since we sometimes write back and forth anyway. Unfortunately I lost all old messages when I changed servers, so I can’t go back to old conversations. But we can always have more conversation.

I haven’t checked out Manara yet, but I will. Teaching has been kicking my ass lately. I can’t wait for the end of the semester. I’m taking next Fall off. I get to be an artist again and not a compromised school teacher. So you think my people are boneless? I think you are right. I need to take an anatomy class. Draw the figure from life, etc. As far as the dick in my painting being “hidden in plain sight” this is exactly my intention. I wanted to make a painting that kind of demystifies the dick. I mean, I like dick, but I thought it would be funny to make it kind of vulnerable WHILE in plain sight. This just isn’t done. When dick is shown, it is usually coming and hard, seeking the limelight. In this painting it is just part of the scenery and part of life. In defense of obscure dick, Alexa

On Apr 26, 2005, at 11:40 AM, Frank wrote:

Alexa – You don’t really need an anatomy class as such, you just need to observe more carefully both with the model and from historical works. Most of us learn by copying, what the Greeks named mimesis , we mimic appearences. I suggested Milo Manara because his style still lets him get the basic things about bodies right ( though being Gay he always draws the dicks hilariously big) . You’re on the right track, colorwise and moodwise your just letting the style over whelm the forensic observations. I had teachers who emphasized using models and studying the old masters and it works to some extent, you still need a reason to make a picture at all , the raisan d’etre of French philosophy. In the painting you sent a jpg of your weaknesses overpowered your considerable strengths. When I started the portraits in the mid 1980’s I was much more primitive but over time I gained skill from observations, indeed I’ve always been a believer in the idea that artists should look at something! Not just re-gards representation but visual art is meant to be a spectacle for the eyes and most especially painting. Color is the fire in the engine of painting but drawing is the architecture, the oven as it were that contains the passionate forms. The mood of your work here becomes limpid like a hot humid day where everyone is thinking the day is only good for sleeping. That’s not bad but I think it’s a side-effect of the bonelessness of the figures. Noses are very important to the architecture of a face, look at some paintings and you’ll see the best noses are in the best pictures. Like Baron Gros the 19th century French painter who absolutely nailed Napoleon’s nose over and over. Anyway sometimes these issues don’t matter as much particularlly in temporary paintings but once you make something movable like a canvas you are making something that’s apt to last for a thousand years (fires of course can shorten that tenure).

As to Phillipe Vergne , you know he’s moving back to Paris soon. I don’t know how he will pick things for his 50% of the Whitney Bi? You know he’s very futuristic in outlook and very intellectual. He reads heavy stuff which maybe one reason he and I are friends, the intellectual side of art, the bones (again). Phillipe does’nt understand why I do my portraits (I don’t myself at times as they sure don’t pay the bills) he’s a fan of the Artpolice project wishes it still was publishing and we share a fascination in Guy Debord the Situationalist theorist (he made some films), but his writing is thrilling. Granted I still love Marxist pov having been pretty much a leftie all my life. Phillipe does’nt really understand painting now, like why paint? And this have been akward for me as if Phillipe just wished I was an intellectual and political artist. But of course I’m an imagist of sorts, which brings me back to your work which is imagist at base. When people in the business don’t return calls or respond it’s not personal. Often people in positions of authority are very busy, sometimes PV returns an email the same day sometimes it’s weeks later, depends on his work where he is. he travels alot. The thing I recall in my youth was who calls who? In the 1960’s I waited to hear from curators. It was the etiquette, they’d have something in mind, a show you might fit into whatever. I still tend to wait for the call , maybe it’s just that I’m old fashioned but I just have seen the boxes full of slides at hip galleries in New York, you have to have introductions that’s how it works, still works. It’s rare you can get anywhere cold. I know it sounds formal but it’s really people saying so and so is very good take a look. Like references, introductions open doors then your work has to dance by itself for the gallerist. Siri Enberg is sort of distant and cold even but she appreciates Sigmar Polke and you have alot in common with Polke (Frankie opines). Whether she’ll look I don’t know, but she has a good eye. She might pass you along, the art world is full of passing folks along. But it’s only the work can can make you thrive, and the thinking that goes with it and the observations of what you see. best as ever, Frank

On May 03, 2005 11:27 AM Alexa wrote:

I checked out some Milo Manara on the web. Most of the images I found were a bit cliche, but there were a few gems, as well. Comic artists are so prolific. There is something to be learned from their approach. My paintings seem to be taking longer and longer to make. Sometimes I wonder if all this effort makes them any better. Why not make a hundred mediocre paintings/drawings. disseminate the work, and improve your skills, to boot? I can’t escape the shackles of my bourgeois roots. A reactionary believer in the preciousness of the object, in spite of warhol, in spite of conceptual art, in spite of derrida. I had a studio visit with several artists recently. It was a rather painful experience, though I’m developing a thick skin and am stubborn enough to continue this painting nonsense because I enjoy the process. Art making must be enjoyable since it is all we have. It certainly isn’t the road to material wealth. I found that my installation work was tedious. It felt like working in construction, except that you also had to deconstruct at the end of the show. I kept having to figure out how to use new power tools that were loud and obnoxious. Painting is so much more relaxing and requires simple materials. I like how it travels easily, too.
In defense of painting.

Regards, Alexa

On May 3, 2005, at 2:16 PM, Frank wrote:

Yea, you can take the painting on the train when Homeland Security thinks you’re work is not tedious enough. Frankie
My painting is so attached to mood that it only comes on like a bird song, for no good reason I warble. Let nature make your work, you don’t need to become another nature. Find some of Manara’s books, you’ll see this curious Latin eroticism, it’s light and color and it’s very hot. And his men are such big beefy cowboys, it’s an alternative erotic myth to the White Princess of Vahalla , in Eurocentric kultur the pretty girl dies for love. In Spain she fucks everyone with a strap on and rides away on a very cool hog ( Moto Uzzi ?) – Just loosen up and let your fanny have power over your brain, only you need to paint beyond the pail of the White Princess’s lie of sex makes you die, love =sex=death whereas Latino dub. is dead makes you hot so you want to fuck, it’s sweet thoughts. The tedium means you are too caught in the work ethic as giving art value, when in truth what gives art value is the most personal things you can say. Me a victim of incest from my sister I make art about women, my tabo. My subject dangerous wimmin, dangerous lives. We are only that which makes us not the same. The personal art is the antithesis of the impersonal minimalist art. It’s an age on the rise, Peter Saul always insisted that I make a personal art, I was from working background for me art was work. Now I only work for the fun, the profit. I’m raised on formalism but my heat comes from my subject, hot smart women who drive my car. Frank
jpg – Ivory Billed Woodpecker – now not extinct

On May 7, 2005, at 10:44 AM Alexa wrote:

Hi Frank,

The princess’s lie, yes, what an impediment in both my art and life. Westerners always think of latinos as a bunch of hotties who love to fuck, but South America is a desolate place that resembles Montana more than Barcelona. Even Buenos Aires has repressive tendencies. Argentina is one of the countries with the most psychologists and plastic surgeons per capita in the world. The women look fantastic, but they don’t have any fun. It is a prude society whose bourgeoisie look to England for guidance. Who does that? There is a reason that most of Central and great parts of South America are suspicious of Argentines and view them as arrogant, racist, Anglophiles. Sometimes I think there is poetic justice in my ending up in Minnesota. I travelled from some outpost in the Patagonia to even more of an outpost in Missouri and now find myself in the Liberal Twin Cities. But everywhere I have lived love=sex=death.

I am almost done with a painting of Saint Sebastian. I didn’t really change it much as far as content. I concentrated on the tree he is attached to. It is a birch whose limbs have been amputated. I’m trying to figure out if I can communicate ideas through the landscape. Get away from symbolism and the obvious, although I kind of like obvious because it is not acceptable. The truth is I haven’t been painting much. I’ve been too much in love and not thinking at all about death. A happy respite from all cares. I just finished the semester at St. Cloud and I leave on Tuesday for Bemis Art Center (in Omaha, yahoo) where I have a residency. I’ll be there for two months. I’m going to paint something big on unstretched canvas. I’ve never done a residency. I hope I feel inspired and not sorry that I am far from my lover and home.

Regards, Alexa

Frank Gaard is on at

Alexa Horochowski is on at

A collection of their work is at