Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Upstairs Clare

Classic Clare
Artist, friend, and neighbor, Clare, has left this life, leaving behind a wealth of stories and fine artworks. Even the small taste of his life here is still a feast.

Carmine Anthony Joseph (last name withheld--but it's fully Italian!) (aka: "Downstairs Clare") born 1935, moved from Brooklyn, New York to California in 1958. Survived by his loving wife of 32 years, The Jean That Goes With Clare (a faithful supporter and reader of this blog), his younger brother and sister, and three of his four grown children from his first wife, with growing children of their own.

A multi-talented man, Clare could act and sing (good enough at opera to be sought out by scouts from the Met), cook like an artist and create art for those with fine art taste.

The thing one would remember most about Clare, once meeting him in person, was his hearty, belly borne laughter. Stories told from his life were the kind one remembers and repeats all their life, memorable and amazing.

He was a big wonderful bear of a man with the warmest of hearts and the wisdom of much experience.

Clare Sketch
Just a taste of Clare's life drawing skill.

God Pages
When Clare moved in downstairs he was a bit frozen art wise. The thought occurred to me that if I brought him a basket filled with cheap art paper cut down to half-sheet size and various paints with a command to make marks of some kind on a sheet daily that I would come downstairs to see each day, he might get going.

We called them "Go Pages".

Boy! Did that idea ever work! He went crazy and made hundreds of these over the course of 6 months, several each day, each set utterly different, yet all astonishingly glorious.

Making them became a daily spiritual meditation for Clare. He came to call the practice God Pages and published his favorites in a hardbound book given at the holidays to family and friends.

Clare Commission Canvases
In 2005, Clare was commissioned by my husband to create several large works for the newly completed dining hall cafe at his organization's head quarters in Los Angeles.

The pieces are spectacularly beautiful and light-filled, capturing the essence of the location and finishing the space to perfection.

Clare Etch
Equally impressive were Clare's line art works and etchings. He worked behind the scenes for 20 years in the Legitimate Theater Union for the Music Center and touring companies where he had ample opportunity to make quick sketches of dancers during their rehearsals and performances.

Clare Life
This great man's life in triptych.

Clare Great Romance
Jean and Clare's obvious love was affecting to anyone who was lucky enough to see them together. They were a perfect match for each other.

Clare holding a grandchild upper left, Jean and Clare's wedding in 1977, upper right, the way Clare always looked at his Jean said it all, lower left, Jean and Clare sharing a warm laugh after sticking out their tongues at me on his last birthday at home, lower right.

There' s a famous story Clare told me, in his usual entertaining way, that really illustrates the kind of romance Clare and Jean were blessed to have.

They used to meet each week at a little cafe and became regulars there after a while. They would eat and enjoy their time together so much, laughing, talking, telling stories, really into each other. They began to notice the wait staff would gather to peek at them during these lunches and whisper.

Finally, at some point, the head waiter approached them sheepishly to ask permission to ask them a very personal question: were they married? When they both answered yes, the waiter leaned in to ask " each other?"

Goodbye to our dear friend. We love you and were blessed to have known and been inspired by you.

More examples of Clare's artworks, interests, stories of his presence in our lives, and what's happening next with his works here.


  1. Anonymous5:00 AM

    What a wonderful, warm tribute. I know how much Clare meant to you, Shelley.

  2. Sorry to hear the news, though it is not a surprise.

    What a very nice remembrance.

    Thanks for sharing more of his work.

    Best wishes to his friends and family.

  3. *sniff* beautifully sad.

  4. Clare would have been so pleased with your tribute. I can see a shy smile, amusement and pride. I only saw his work once--and was shocked by it. Big. Earthy. Flamboyant. Risky.
    Kinda woke me up.
    Blessing him on his way...and also Jean, and you, too, Shelley.

  5. What a lucky man... a life left behind full of art. Cheers.. Upstairs Clare!

  6. sorry to hear this news. He sounds like a wondeful soul. My heart goes out to his friends and loved ones. peace.

  7. Glad to have met Clare ever so briefly when I visited.

    Kindest wishes sending to Jean.

    Thank you for taking care of him, Shells.


  8. Thank you, each, and all. How kind you are. Some of you have met Clare or at least seen him pop up here and there in various posts like this and that. I was glad to share some of his story with you. No people on earth could be better to share with actually.

    Thank you.

  9. well done!

    Respect and Love


  10. What a wonderful epitaph. He sounds like an incredible person and artist. I love the etching of the dancer stretching. Incredible!!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories of Clare.

  11. Thank Riggs, and Mikes.

    Mike, that dancer stretching was an actual etching, as in "would you like to come up and see my etchings" line!

    Clare had a giant etching press and he carved the art into metal plates (?) and used acids! The whole sha'bang!

    He also carved these amazing bells out of wax to have them cast in bronze. They are so fanciful, with faces with tongue clappers, etc. I should take photos and show those too.

  12. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. What a beautiful tribute.

  13. Is he the one that is helping God to paint the landscape now, the beautiful fall colors? I think maby...yes.
    I'm glad you shared this Shelley.

  14. Thanks, Dj xox

    A lovely, poetic thought, Marci. A beautiful notion.

  15. You made me shed a tear for a man I never met... an inspiring tribute.
    Damn he could draw!

  16. Wow, Nick, That's the nicest thing you could have said.

    I like to think that when someone leaves life that they are complete, even if it may not seem so.

    Sometimes I freak out over existential angst, wondering what it means to be alive and then not to be, Hamlet style.

    But if I think of it in terms of some kind of appropriate conclusion vs. a tragedy of seemingly premature interruption, I can accept that event happening to people more peacefully.

    Certainly Clare had a rich full experience, longer than men in earlier centuries have enjoyed. Not enough perhaps, but certainly nice and full.

  17. (^ reminds me of times I life modled for folk like him. thanks for "getting it" if that makes any sense.
    my relation to Mr.B seems a bit like yours to the dearly departed.
    (^ folk ask me why I do it.. what's in it fer me? do I get bpaid? isn't dealing with old masters a pain in the tookus/
    WHY? why you DO it?!
    (^ my only explanation is to look up blank faced and say..
    (^..' just cuz.

    (^ thanks for paying downstairs friend some attention.
    it's a lot more enriching than financial bailouts could ever be.
    (^ smootches: > prosser

  18. Awww, thanks, Prosser. Yes, we must honor and respect our traditional non-traditionalists! Here's to all our Fine Artists!


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