Both images Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: Portret van een kind, anonymous, c. 1850 – c. 1860; Kat, Henri van der Stok, 1880 – 1946.
I read this week about Lisa Blair who sailed solo around Antarctica. 184 days alone in a small cabin, raving cold outside. It occurs to me today that she would never have launched a website with as few fail-safes in place as I have here. My image collections are inexplicably jamming up, one image over another, so all you see is the top margin of each. I’m told that if you refresh your screen (very tip-top of window, looks like a U-turn sign) and pull down slowly, all will be revealed.
Plus, until yesterday, the Follow button was malfunctioning. I didn’t get the two notifications that should have gone out after the debut post — and I bet you didn’t either. Once I’m sure the Follow button is working right I may ask you kindly to try again.
For years I’ve referred to my style of artwork as Clastics. Some people strongly object because of its association with plastics. Elastic I say to them. Fantastic. Orgiastic.
I’ve never seen an object, never seen an image, that couldn’t belong in a work of art. The best definition I’ve found for it comes from geology: clastics.
Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering.
Substitute culture for rocks and you understand. Cultural detritus, chunks and smaller… In my art a 19th C cartoon has equal value to a photograph of a chemical plant producing a chemical that wasn’t developed until a century later. But if the cartoon has a soldier in a red uniform that chimes well with the red of the roof of the chemical works, then maybe they speak.
The content of each image both contributes to the meaning and doesn’t matter at all. In the composition you discern from a distance that all that matters is the balance of colors and forms. A well-formed abstraction. Up close, at reading distance, what the images are of and also their style inform your understanding. This happens inside of me and I can’t tell you the recipe. Could Gauguin articulate why he put that red-gold color in the right corner? This is the great mystery of visual art: something unspeakable ignites the life.
In the real world outside the picture plane the same rules apply. One of my installations, Ezekiel, used two stacks of strobe lights that faced a wall that was coated with aluminum sheets on one side to reflect the glare, and with tarpaper on the other to blot it out. The excitement was supposed to be on+off on a random timer, but my electrician convinced me that none could logically exist. This was an Open Studio event, I was always there with a controller in my pocket. On an Open Studio budget, purity be damned.
You walk into a gallery, white canvas in your mind, unknown, about to be known. Techie-looking sturdy plastic containers, little tents, hang in a line from the ceiling. In each, a tomato. Also a mechanical arm wielding an acupuncture needle. But only when someone is moving in the room. You wander, the sensors click, another stab into a tomato. The tomatoes are in various stages of flowing juice and decay.
If no one entered the gallery those tomatoes would still be rosy whole. But then you read the placard on the wall, the Writing on the Wall, and you’re as complicit as a witless Joseph Goebbels believer. It’s you doing something evil-feeling manipulated by a will cleverer than yours. By fate unseen and inescapable.
The damaged tomatoes confront you. It smacks of Animal Farm, of 1984. You’ve been deviously manipulated into a guilt you had no part in earning. So assess your guilt — and swirl it down the drain-hole of the repeating mirrors of a Lucas Samaras walk-in box.
A few weeks ago I heard the unmistakable sound of chainsaws and I was angry. Why, when so many people are about to die, are you cutting down a living thing? You yourself may be equally aghast that I am choosing this same moment to debut a website.
Like most animal life, I have a fear of death. The eagle carrying an ibex from its crag as much as the ibex now swaying above giddy canyons. I’m clear that if I contract covid-19 my odds of surviving are dim indeed.
So, urgency. Because I lost five years to an undiagnosed illness and the two ensuing years to the tragicomic tale of getting this site written. Urgency.
It’s nearly done. It isn’t done.
In those same two years I’ve made thousands of digital artworks. My audience can be counted on ten fingers, with a few left to snap. Goddam I want the satisfaction of having this work seen while I’m still alive to enjoy it.
I ask something of you. Will you please follow me (button lower right edge) for four weeks? By then you’ll know whether my project interests you. One or two weeks won’t cover enough ground. If you don’t connect you can unfollow me in Week Five. But please give me the chance.
So here’s an incompletely realized site. You’re looking through a hole in the plywood at the orange extension cords, the windows waiting to be installed. Some things are screwy, some aren’t there yet. But my art needs out into the real world now.
These 5.9.20 & 5.11.20 posts will be archived under About
About this Site
This site is an experiment. Instead of a traditional artist’s site devoted solely to my art, I figure I’m me and all the things that interest me relate to what I do in art.
In how many guises can you combine images? This is my main interest. That they convey emotional meaning to you.
My hobby is keeping up with science. Expect science.
A blog is actually a recognized art form. I’ll play with its blogging software, plugins, etc.
Unusual vocabulary terms delight me.
Politics anguish me. I’ll comment on them.
The logical ins and outs of D-ness (2D3D4D) are never far from my mind.
And if I think something is funny, notable, damned clever? You’ll find it in the blog.
You will get every velvet glove and sharp elbow of me.
Welcome to my site. Come right on in!
About this New Work
This new work, like my work before, consists of pieces baked into wholeartworks. Magazine and book images that I owned, photographs I took, glass objects from Pier One and antique stores, rocks with faces…
My interest is in how pieces combine. We diagram a sentence to reveal the grammatical structure. Nouns, verbs, phrases. Each owns a niche. This isn’t possible in the far more complex field of visuals. Total dimensions size, the relative size of elements, media, how paint and charcoal may mix (or graphite and pastels), color, importance of chiaroscuro or vagueness, angularity, brio. As endless as visual experience can be.
I want to show you also something I’ve just noticed this year. My style of mixing images changes as the source of those images changes. I assume the same image sources would solicit a different interpretation in another artist’s mind.
It breaks down into categories that I can name (Abstraction, Storyform, Landscape…) so I’ll show you images in batches that make sense under a more descriptive label than just “mine”.
My new rules for artwork are:
That absolutely every image is valid to use. If it has notes to myself scrawled across it, if it has a footprint. However the scrawl or footprint has to be accommodated in the final composition. Used, just like the image itself.
If I notice myself relying on old habits I try to shake things up.
If I commit a finger-fault that changes the path my art is taking, I stay with it and see where it goes. Usually it leads me to an interesting elsewhere.
This is uniquely digital but I’ll keep the practice if I move to paint or hammer and wood.
Created will take you to the work I do when creativity takes over. I’m not thinking things through, I’m asking my gut. And getting answers. This can happen both with visuals and words.
Reasoned leads to my blog. I think about things, I argue with ideas and with myself, I report and examine. I applaud. Visuals are used as illustration, as decoration, but the blog is mostly words.
The Playground serves as an ongoing answer to society’s thirst for an artist’s statement. It will change often and reflect the delight I take in trying new equipment, apps and art gambits.
Past Work is my old website ported into WordPress. It includes some of what I was fascinated with in former times.
Categories and Tags are currently in abject disarray and will improve by the time this raw website plumps out in rosy good health.
About includes Why this site, why now?; About the site; About this New Work; About the Artist — written and artwork; Site Organization.
Links (when they appear) will lead you to collections of images I’ve made on Pinterest and elsewhere. Public Domain sources I like. Mac software I’ve found useful. A goodie basket kind of place.