July 23, 2010


Well that was awkward. The gallery thought I was going to show the small abstracts. [sound of  tires screeching to a halt, followed by sound of glass shattering and hubcaps rolling.]

Oh, like I have time to update FB and my blog, but I can't write a frigging statement or unpack the house.

This is not the studio. It is the office/viewing room. It is also a satellite library.

The blog has more or less been a statement for the past 2 years of work, so I’m having some difficulty compressing two years into a pithy statement. I suppose I could grab sentences from posts here and there and be done with it. I'm serious, you know. I'm not going to show the abstracts from 2009. We'll refer to those as The Lost Months of Separation Anxiety. TLMOSA consist of 22 abstract paintings, and since those are already neatly titled, it's great to know I have a second solo show in my pocket. I could, in fact, construct a pocket for those works and be speaking literally. But that does not help me now. In the future, it will, but not now.

With regard to the works in the upcoming show, obviously I spent some time in the studio making physical contact with a canvas, but many hours were spent dealing with grown-up issues I didn't want to deal with, air travel back and forth across the United States, and my best attempt at plugging an emotional drain. I'm not going to let a few sentences hold me back. I'm good with painting deadlines. I knew I needed to have the work completed before I left Los Angeles. I have 17 paintings. I thought it was 13, but I found 4 more when my boxes arrived from L.A. The last pool painting was finished before my mom died. The last flower painting was completed while I was having open houses and packing up my belongings on the West Coast. Some of the titles came easily, but the titling department took a leave of absence and most of paintings have been waiting for nomenclature. For the longest time I had Southern Gothic on my mind, not as a literary genre, but as a sentenced lifestyle. I blow things out of proportion sometimes. It's a coping strategy. 

I came across a book of John Ruskin’s when I arrived here. I'm estimating this house contains over a thousand books, most of which were published before I was born. Ruskin's Works was in a bookcase in the office. The book was at eye level. In a moment of insight, I chose 13 quite lovely titles. It was a good start, but by one o'clock in the morning, I was trolling through Southern Gothic literature while listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and grabbing titles from sad country music ballads, the soundtrack to Donnie Darko, and a postcard from my dad. I also drew from my powerhouse of vocabulary I've built up over the years, as exemplified in the title, "Plank." As of this morning, I believe I am done. I haven't talked much about the process of painting, but I made a video about my palette. That should count for something.

Now here's the truncated version:

Pools and Flowers: Elusive Passages from the Chapters of Time

Like most of my paintings, these began as pleasant-enough stain paintings. The paintings were motivated by personal circumstances occurring over the last two years. They are small, and smallish paintings. The scale of the small paintings reminded me of chapters from a paperback book. It’s a disjointed narrative dealing with the fluidity of time, memories, reminders, and loss. In a longer version I would tell you these painting also deal with concepts of space and time and scale. The paintings are more or less representational, depicting an abandoned swimming pool, and flowers. I thought I had painted more flowers, but it turns out, I painted mostly pools. I tried to get away from John Ruskin and Modern Painters, but while clearing out some belongings at the house I grew up in, I spotted a book of Ruskin’s works, titled, Ruskin’s Works. The pool is outside my bedroom window and is partially covered in a blanket of moss and lichen. A bullfrog lives there. I buy fresh flowers once a week. 

17 Paintings General Index (Checklist)

Foreword (Bamboo)
Long Black Veil
Sad Waters
Tutu God Fairy Bouquet (Comic Relief)
Sleight Of Hand
January (White Flowers)
Sometimes I’m Optimistic And Think Of Mondrian
Black Flag Night Swim
Art Deco Chinese Rug
Two Oceans Full Of Love and Sunshine
Double Negative (The Cedar Tree Painting)
In the Evening of the sweet by and by
Losing Time

As you can see, I have already changed my mind on a couple of titles and as of this morning when I revisited this post, I would like to change them all. I'm chomping at the bit to make the next body of work, based on the deluge of titles that are pouring through my mind. See next post for details.

Yes, well, I needed to think this through a bit more, plus I found a statement I wrote during a more sane moment. 

July 20, 2010

I'm starting to get kind of excited.

The Hamburger Hambuger Finale

I've almost wrangled a second room into shape. The Office. The Office has always been the office, so I only had to sort through one-hundred years of correspondence along with a complete archive of ALL the artwork I produced in first grade to make it comfy. Every, EVERY single piece of art, random drawing, note I ever wrote, has been saved. They are preserved in archival dry cleaning bags, bundled with notes in either my grandmother's handwriting, "Pretty Baby II, age 2-3," or my mother's handwriting, "M.A. artwork, First Grade." I have been somewhat ruthless and after giving them the once over have thrown a large portion away. I'm tired of sorting stuff, and have almost called it quits myself, but when I hit the document box full of first grade, I caved. I'm going to offer it up on Craigslist or eBay. Someone else should be able to enjoy what a dork I was in first grade. I kept a comic strip though. I was way ahead of my time. The most disconcerting aspect is that I remember the moment I made some of these things.

July 17, 2010

Welcome to Xanadu. The Charles Foster Kane version.

Finally have hi-speed Internet. Thank you, Comcast. 
The moving van arrived. I'm speechless. I had finally gotten the house to a manageable place, PRIOR to the van arriving. It took them 5 hours to fully unload, counting at least an hour of locating missing items. My motorcycle is damaged. (Rearview mirror, tail light. Dude tried to fix it with a gob of Gorilla glue as though it were some punk ass dirt bike.) Everything else is still in boxes. The garage is filled with studio stuff in boxes. I saw my palette. It is still wrapped, and feels to be in one piece. All my paintings arrived safely, as did my Culver City baseball cap, plastic lids, a valentine's card and Johnny Cash fake tattoo. For whatever reason, those things were in the same box as My Chemex Coffee decanter. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I have gotten used to my Mr. Coffee brew.

I continue to be delighted, shocked, and simultaneously filled with apprehension. 
It seemed totally apropos that I would find Ruskin's Ethics of the Dust sitting in a bookshelf staring me squarely in the eye.
I did not realize having a diving board would prevent me from having homeowner's insurance, but apparently in the past 30 years, enough clumsy people have sued and spoiled it for the rest of us. I, for one, am thankful I have gators, double flips, and backflips on my childhood resume. I finally dosed myself in Cutters and persevered with a hacksaw. Victory.

I met an artist for coffee the other day and coincidentally another artist I have met here in town stopped in for coffee. It felt good to make some sort of contact with other artists here. So far, most of my conversations have been with repairmen. I’m tiring of my trips to Home Depo.

I thought I would try to go to Italy in 3 weeks for an art conversation as part of a project I'm involved in with some LA artists but the site sight (works either way) of the boxes is too much. I need to be out of boxes. I need to have order in my life so I can have a regular schedule again. I'm giving myself 2 weeks and then I will allow myself to feel like it's never going to end. 

My reality is rather harsh in the problems of abundance kind of way. I try and remember a few things:

I am grateful for what I have.

It's only stuff.

It's okay, everything is okay.

I am still a painter. Just because I have not painted anything of merit lately, I am still a painter.

Where's my documentary film crew?

July 11, 2010

Post Montage. Finally uploaded. Live at the Frothy Monkey, Nashville.

Last  night I was awakened briefly every half or quarter hour to the sound of a mantel clock chiming. After say, 15 years of not working, it suddenly started ticking and chiming again. In full disclosure, I had tried to wind it sometime last week to no avail. 7 hours and 23 minutes later, it stopped. I am not going to wind it again. 

I am sitting at my kitchen table starring out the window. Directly in front of me are dead $7.99 hydrangeas from Kroger. They died  a few hours after I so elegantly displayed them in a crystal vase I found.  I was too tired to take them back for a refund. It's hard to find decent looking fresh cut flowers around here. I thought amidst all the dust, fresh cut flowers might be a pick-me up and an air cleanser of some sort. To the left of me is an application for a booth at an antique mall. To the right of me is the memorial book and a stack of acknowledgement cards I finally almost finished. My GPS coordinates show me to be somewhere between the upper rings of Dante's Inferno and Shangri-La. I am almost certain I have fallen in a wormhole. I thought yesterday that I would focus on making art, or at least writing an updated statement and honing my show title. I need to email jpegs. I waited for Comcast Guy #2 to show up with the right equipment. When he did show up, it was almost  7:30 pm, also known as 3.5 hours past the estimated install time, also known as 48 hours past their original estimated install time. The house is a virgin. No cable lines have ever been "dropped," to use cable speak. After crawling around the basement he reported that I had a decomposing possum, but that it was almost gone thanks to the crickets. He said the stench was horrible. Thankfully, it has not wafted up to the house. He did not install my Internet lifeline. It was too late in the evening. While in my kitchen he noticed a gun shell on the kitchen table. I had been at the firing range last week and a shell had popped back into my purse. I had absent-mindedly placed it on the table. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but it felt reassuring having a 9mm shell casually laying about my kitchen table. He was supposed to pull some strings and come back the next day to install my cable. He did not. Meanwhile, I finally harangued AT&T enough to change out all the outside phone wires so that I could use the phone  as a communication device instead of a static receiver. 

Sometimes, oh who am I kidding, almost everyday, I cry for a second or two. I am too sensitive of a person to be trolling through two or more generations of letters, documents, and outdated service manuals on my own. Sometimes I laugh out loud. Occasionally I am mystified. The house is still not a place to relax after a hard days' work. It is a hard day's work. It's been one month, almost. Time is going to start creeping me out again, and sucking me down if I'm not careful. I am making progress, and yet I feel like I have some responsibility to the furniture. My whole life. Always the furniture. 

The garage is somewhat clean and if I can make the final push to clear it from garage type stuff, I am back to thinking it will make a functional studio. I feel some sort of clarity and focus in there. I suppose if I were rich and ruthless, I'd gut the entire house and have one large open space. Slightly extreme. 

Otto chomped down on my hand yesterday. We returned from the vet (conjunctivitis) and instead of politely getting out of the car as I opened the passenger door, he jumped over to the driver's side. I walked back over to the driver's side and he jumped over to the passenger side. I walked around to the passenger side, and as he jumped over to the driver's side, I grabbed his coat. It felt like a steel door had slammed on my hand. No puncture wound as his canines are rounded down due to his chewing all the molding and wood furniture. It was raining. He didn't even apologize. 

I am desperate to paint again. I feel stupid and dumb as though I would not even know how to hold a brush or how to squeeze paint out of a tube, or even WTF I would paint. I also feel like I am on a desert island. I don't like this feeling.

I have eaten a fresh tomato sandwich every day since arriving. Life is still okay. 

July 02, 2010

A Sad Post.

After placing calls to several mobile vets yesterday, I found one who was able to come by the house in the late afternoon. After examining Fang and speaking with his team in LA, everyone conferred that it was time. Heart failure. He was too weak to walk or stand up. The vet asked if it would be alright to say a small prayer and I said okay. It was almost as lovely as my mom's service. Instead of the unexpected sound of a train passing through, the lawnmower battalion was in the neighborhood. Fitting.

About a half hour later the crematory guy came by in a non-descript green Impala or something, and picked up Dead Fang and put him in the trunk of his car, jarring my whole experience back into the nuts and bolts realty of life. I resumed cleaning years of grime off the white shutters above the kitchen sink. Clorox, Ammonia, and Pine-Sol are smells to be added to The Olfactory Tour of Sad Memories. The house felt empty last night, even with Monster Truck Dog holding watch. I am sad. Thirteen years ago, back in Chicago, Matt asked me if I wanted a dog. Fang, née Max, was a stray. Matt had another dog and couldn't keep Fang. I was recently divorced (not too lucky in love, am I) and so I said, yes. I read the Monks of New Sketes, How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend, and did group training for a couple of days before Fang's laid-back personality got us booted out of group therapy and upgraded to private training. The owner of the post house where I was working at the time, told me the best way to deal with an aggressive dog was to give it love, and so I did. Best dog ever. He never completely lost his edge, but he was Mr. Friendly, even to strangers, 97% of the time. Over the years we bestowed several nicknames on him, possibly only funny to Matt and I. Fang's tail was the perfect height to knock over our martini glasses on a coffee table and our friends called it, "The Tail of Woe." Matt and I promptly corrected it to, "The Tail of Love." I'm lucky to have had him in my life-Fang. Matt, too, I guess.

I'm adjusting to being here. I haven't ventured out except for groceries and cleaning supplies. I'm still working on trying to get the house in order and taking care of personal business. The walls are plaster, so I'm thinking I'll have to invest in another easel. Considering I'm not an easel painter, it's odd, but necessary. Suddenly I feel way more mature than I should be, or else I'm just catching up to be as mature as everyone else already is. I received an email requesting some images in consideration for a temporary showcase suite in LA, and I really need to start thinking about generating a steady income again. Meanwhile, in order to pay for some repairs, I'm going to set up shop on eBay and slowly start parceling out some of the buried treasure around here, like for instance, my mom's vintage rain bonnet collection.