STATEMENTS

Bloomstone

Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
-Wallace Stevens

Here’s a mystery found in a French cave. It appears that a group of Neanderthals walked into that cave about 176,000 years ago and started building something. Neanderthals were our closest living relatives but they weren’t known as builders or cave explorers. Scientists identify the forms as “constructions,” but they can’t figure out what they were for.

- Christopher Joyce, for NPR

Bloomstone:  suggests the inevitable manifestation of a perpetual life force, originating from a state of solid stasis.

Image making cuts across all cultures and comes down to us from prehistory. It is one defense we have against an illogical and capricious world. From it we seek a centering knowledge of where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. We do not find specific answers, but the stage is set for contemplation and subtle transformation.

The visual artist acts as a conduit. I channel sensations, emotions, and ideas, producing a unique voice which lives in the made object.

My imagery references these transitions and journeys. Flames flicker in self-perpetuating transience, and exist as the divine spark. Ovals and circles stand solo, or congregate and mass in colonies of cells and echoes. Plant forms exhibit their snaking tendrils, their popping buds, and their fading blooms. One form reads as both boat and gravestone, signifying two kinds of journey. An ephemeral bird and a delicate lotus both speak of the spirit unleashed. A tolling temple bell is the angelus, while the resulting reverberations find their earthly pattern.

The work evolves in a slow process of accumulation, as I build up layer upon layer of gesso, charcoal, pastel, acrylic paints, and later on waxy oil pigment. I mix gestural, intuitive mark making with geometrical forms which I trace from templates. To make icons resembling tattoos, I draw directly with the paint. These are emphatic like welts, or they trail off into delicate imprints. I overlay the surface with a pattern of boundaries or thresholds using oil paint as patina or veil. Suggesting faded parchments or ancient fresco walls, this surface speaks of passage. In the end, the work reveals itself gradually, just as an archaeological site sheds its collective history.

Spring, 2017


GB Series

Over the years, I have been inspired by the written word, and in particular, certain works of TS Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Kenneth Rexroth, and Walt Whitman.  Operating as a form of indirect illustration, I have given visual form to the ideas, and moods generated by the poems.

I am now seeking inspiration from objects.  The quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are extremely important to that direction.  As a combination of bold, eclectic design, and a sacred presence of layered lives lived, these quilts are remarkable works of art.  Possessing an uncanny foreshadowing of Modernist sensibilities, the ladies here have been gathering to make these quilts since the early 1900s. Bringing together echoes of such diverse artists as Thomas Nozkowski, Brice Marden, and Robert Motherwell, these extraordinary quilts have a very resonant presence in today’s artistic conversation.

The quilts are shocking when first seen, as pure visual delight washes over the viewer.  But this initial impact gives way to prolonged engagement as the patterns, textures, colors and overall harmony are revealed slowly, with each quilt assuming a monolithic presence, and concise voice.  I am put in mind of Paul Klee, and how each of his works is utterly self contained and complete, one to the next.

Under the influence of these quilts, my work has changed from being driven by an external, imposed narrative, to each painting being moved along by formal concerns, arising from within its own unique nature.  I have flattened the space in these works, and brought the visual information up front.  I think of these as assembled objects, like the quilts themselves. I contrast patches of soft, faded color with bands of heavily brushed color and bars of pure, solid color. Color itself has become an object, as I lay it down in pieces.

These paintings are intended to be seductive, but slightly jarring.  A precarious position of being visually right or wrong adds mystery. They may exist somewhere in between.  Sean Scully puts this notion succinctly, “I have always felt that for painting to become great there needs to be an inherent vulnerability to it.  For example, when Pollock says, ‘Is this a painting’, not ‘Is this a good painting?’.  It could be argued therefore that setting off with a definite intent is at odds to what painting is really about – you need not second guess it.”

I want to make a rigorously formal art, but I have faith that this tedious system of replication and mantra like activity will produce objects of joy, warmth and plentitude.  And rather than explaining away the work, I again have faith that these objects will operate on their own terms, leaving the viewer to enjoy the literal act of seeing.

Winter, 2016


Blombos Cave Series

Blombos Cave, in South Africa, has yielded some of humankind’s most ancient cultural objects, from pierced sea shells, strung into ornamental necklaces, to chunks of ochre, which have been inscribed with geometrical markings.  I am continually inspired by this moment in our collective past which seems to mark our crossover from merely instinctual beings, driven by survival energies, to poetic creatures of deep artistic feelings and rituals.

Deep artistic feelings and rituals, for me, are present in the astounding quilts made in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, from the 1920s onward until today.  These resonant objects speak of layered histories and pure aesthetic delight.

Wallace Stevens is a poet of pure aesthetic delight, as the free flight of the imagination takes on the role of humankind’s story teller, or maker of myth.

Winter 2016


When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
– Little Gidding, Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

Our memories, our current sensations, and our anticipated experiences–these all interact to form our sense of self. Yet, transcending these moments in time, we sometimes experience a timeless condition based on unity. This intersection of the timeless in time is Incarnation. As Eliot says, it is “The hint half guessed, the gift half understood.”

I believe in this state of grace. As a maker, I strive to have my work reference this intellectual and emotional position. The work is a residue which results from this act of searching.

Saturated, luminous color represents the timeless. This is a place filled with ever shifting shapes. Spirit and potential are here. Faded, fragile color represents the flow of time. This is a place filled with concrete forms. Remnants and echoes populate this space.

I layer the markings, so the geometric templates exist with organic, freely drawn charcoal lines and acrylic tattoos. An iconic presence exists as flattened, decorative patterns speak of ancient ornamentation, ritual, and spiritual meditation.

Resembling frescoes, the surface appears time worn, with delicate, faded pigment, and subtle markings and forms. These all suggest ethereal memories, past histories, and a life lived.

Punctuating this condition is the vivid portal or window. This represents that moment of heightened emotional focus which we all experience on occasion, that moment of revelation, that moment at the Still Point.


Night resonance recedes, night-walkers’ song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.
–William Butler Yeats, Byzantium

 

Do the reverberations
Of the evening bell of
The mountain temple ever
Totally die away?
Memory echoes and reechoes
Always reinforcing itself.
–Kenneth Rexroth, On Flower Wreath Hill

 

We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, and the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
–T.S. Eliot, East Coker, Four Quartets

Image making cuts across all cultures and comes down to us from prehistory. It is one defense we have against an illogical and capricious world. From it we seek a centering knowledge of where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. We do not find specific answers, but the stage is set for contemplation and subtle transformation.

The visual artist acts as a conduit. I channel sensations, emotions, and ideas, producing a unique voice which lives in the made object. Much of my grist comes from poetry.

In Byzantium, Yeats considers the impermanence of the body. Art objects outlast us, and they act as containers, carrying with them bits and pieces of us as we existed in a certain time and place. On Flower Wreath Hill is Rexroth’s meditation on memory’s role in our life journey. We remember the past, and it echoes continually through the present, influencing our sense of self and our sense of how the future will unfold for us. Eliot’s masterwork, Four Quartets, reveals the evolution of the spiritual mind, as we transition from a moment of peace beyond understanding, the still point, to a life lived in continual humility and unqualified love.

My imagery references these transitions and journeys. Flames flicker in self-perpetuating transience, and exist as the divine spark. Ovals and circles stand solo, or congregate and mass in colonies of cells and echoes. Plant forms exhibit their snaking tendrils, their popping buds, and their fading blooms. One form reads as both boat and gravestone, signifying two kinds of journey. An ephemeral bird and a delicate lotus both speak of the spirit unleashed. A tolling temple bell is the angelus, while the resulting reverberations find their earthly pattern.

The work evolves in a slow process of accumulation, as I build up layer upon layer of gesso, charcoal, pastel, acrylic paints, and later on waxy oil pigment. I mix gestural, intuitive mark making with geometrical forms which I trace from templates. To make icons resembling tattoos, I draw directly with the paint. These are emphatic like welts, or they trail off into delicate imprints. I overlay the surface with a pattern of boundaries or thresholds using oil paint as patina or veil. Suggesting faded parchments or ancient fresco walls, this surface speaks of passage. In the end, the work reveals itself gradually, just as an archaeological site sheds its collective history


I went out on my cabin porch,
And looked up through the black forest
At the swaying islands of stars.
Suddenly I saw at my feet,
Spread on the floor of night, ingots
Of quivering phosphorescence,
And all about were scattered chips
Of pale cold light that was alive.
–Kenneth Rexroth

This body of work is inspired by The Signature of All Things, a collection of poetry by Kenneth Rexroth. Using nature as a source of symbolism, the poet meditates on the presence of a unifying reality behind the outward, physical world. We only need to open our senses to tap into this realm of unity. The musical cascade of a waterfall, the majestic arcs traveled by the stars and planets, the ever changing face of the seasons, all of these grand episodes provide moments of revelation for the ripe, aware mind. Yet, we may experience a sense of transport in the microcosmic as well. The intricate netting of a leaf’s veins, the delicate striations in ancient stone, and the graceful fluttering of a moth. All of this modest theater is just as capable of producing states of wonder within us. Rexroth chooses symbols which constantly switch back and forth between the cosmic and the local. Is it a small swirling eddy in a stream, or the ageless sweep of an immense galaxy?

These paintings are the residual objects resulting from my experience of the poetry. Earthy greens, browns and golds, celestial blues and grays, the vital pulse of red in all of its vigorous shades: as a congregation, these colors recall Rexroth’s embrace of nature. As a reference to the poet’s practice of investing his forms with layered meaning, I construct the paintings in a similar manner of accretion. Using acrylic paint, modeling paste, charcoal and pastel, I build up a stratified surface of intention and fortunate accident. I finish the surfaces with satiny glazes of oil paint, which appear in subtle squares and rectangles. This editing device allows me to map the area, referencing aerial views of land boundaries on the large scale, and archeological layering in a more intimate realm. This overall transparency of color allows for a sense of X-ray vision, where the many striations of activity are revealed. I will occasionally brush on areas of bees’ wax. Rather sweeping across in gestural form, or consolidating into geometrical forms, the wax suggests the organic nature of skin, and at other times the mineral drip of calcite on ancient cave walls. To echo Rexroth’s celebration of the mundane (or at least his way of finding resonance in the commonplace), I use basic templates in my drawing. My goal is to manufacture evocative characters by repeating and combining the templates. From this almost mechanical process, organic and vital forms occasionally emerge.

In addition to the forms achieved through my drawing, I use letters and text as another demarcation. I rely on communicating through visual means, and this dialogue often takes us to a place beyond the reach of language. However, words used poetically often lose their cold precision and open up into many readings. To present this metaphorical nature of language, I make the text in my paintings have a transitional appearance. I stencil the words into abstract patterns, or stack the letters one on the other, or trail the words in lines or circles, all as a consideration of this shifting life of the written word. Primal utterances, forgotten mantras, echoes of naming, escaped memories, these are incarnations which I want the text to embody. This ancient notion of the logos existing as divinity made flesh is a constant hum sounding throughout my work.

 


 

The works on panel are gathered under the title, Remnant Folio. Remnant: a reminder left behind which continues to influence, or a surviving testament. Folio: a divided page or icon, presenting itself as an open book. A close examination will note that each panel, initially, is divided in half, either on the horizontal or the vertical. Reading as a book’s spine or unfolding wooden icon, this structure is a subtle way for me to locate the work in my thinking. The start off of that line seems to place the work as an object to be examined and slowly meditated upon.

The works on paper are gathered under the title, Lake Turkana. Lake Turkana is located in Eastern Africa, and some of the most ancient Hominid remains and artifacts have been discovered along its shores. The paper works remind me of loose leaves taken from a diary of sorts, an ancient diary which has come down to us. With all this in mind, I am attracted to exploring origins, ideas of continual transformation, and progressive shifts in consciousness. It follows that these things which I make may suggest aged frescoes or burnished parchments.