Miss Phyllis

This is my latest painting in the golf series (taken outdoors on a cloudy day... sorry). She is 3 x 5' tall, sosyouknow. For those catching up, I've been painting some golf lately... for monetary interests, and for personal reasons. I've been focusing so far on more the anonymous golfer (also the less white, or less male golfer), or unsung hero of golf as another way of dismantling the current popular attitude towards the game (and returning it to its roots).

This is all reminding me of why i am so drawn to painting portraits. It is an exercise in compassion, and an incredible vehicle for self transformation, this focusing not only on a person, but a quality for long periods of time.

Plus, as most of the amazing portrait painters in history have found, portraits are the ultimate trojan horse. While we think we are merely looking at a picture of a person, we are actually ingesting entire messages and qualities. Sure this happens in other kinds of painting, but with a portrait... people linger longer.



Spring Break

Hey faithful readers (both of you crazy Uzbekistanians), I am going on a wee bit of a break for the next week. I have some family coming into town and we are going to hang out and not blog. Can you do me a favor though and remind me to come back? I don't want to drift off the blog too long, it gets harder to return. Alright, much love... enjoy the transition into springtime, g



42K$ for the new Louis V

I'm not going to go into a big long spiel about how 42K is more than the yearly income of 99% of the global population, but i will share a story of which i am reminded. The way this all turns out is not pretty.



much ado about nothing

Stretching and priming a big mama last night. I had to capture this image (i chuckle here at my language, as if i was throwing a net on a polar bear), relating to the infinite space. without over dramatizing, i think any artist will tell you that this is the most anxious part of the process. A canvas with paint on it, becomes less menacing (exponentially) with every mark made, as the sea of infinite possibilities begins to shrink (all an illusion).

As i lay it down for priming (rabbit skin glue in case anyone wanted to know... and for those who don't paint, yeah... it's got something to do with animals, i doubt if it's rabbits anymore though...) i notice that it becomes something to contemplate rather than something to walk through. The chairs crack me up, with the light above, as if this were a war room, and leaders were staring into emptiness.

It's at this moment that i understand there is nothing more profound in a time of war and quagmire, or maybe any time, than a blank canvas. Nothing so humbling as this reminder that we are all born and we will all die and none of us really know much more than that. Nothing so beautiful as this reminder of that which goes even beyond "all".

and i wonder what the world would be like if these people we call leaders had these white squares in their makeshift studios, and were faced with them in the wee hours of the night?

I just know it would be a lot quieter.

(last one is for art powerlines... nice eh? love the vanishing point in back too...)


things appear to vanish

nothing vanishes. (lemon juice and ink transfer on index pages from an old book of quotes)



Time Change and Negative Spaces

What if the emperor was wearing clothes?

Why wasn't the idea of clothing enough? Was the tailor really trying to fool the emperor? What if that is only how the story was spun afterwards, because no one, including the emperor, got the concept? (and no one wanted to be the fool?) Were there really no clothes, or were the public's eyes not sensitive enough to see them?

Why is it sewn into the US cultural fabric (thin as it is) that the unknown is something to be discovered, that the empty should be filled, and the infinite be bounded? When did these become heralded actions?

When did negative space become negative?

Why is discovery seen as heroic rather than humbling?

Why do we feel the need to answer all the questions and fill in all the



An American Perspective

Art Powerlines, once again, has me thinking (damn her) with Edouard Glissant's perspective on perspective....

"Even when an American artist uses the techniques of perspective, its use is not what accounts for the creative drive in the Americas. It has nothing to do with that. And that is something worth looking into. We are looking and haven't discovered yet. But the fact is that the arts in the Americas often do not conceive of emptiness as a natural setting. The canvases are always full, there are no vanishing points in an infinite space. What does that mean? Is it in someway related to a community of perception?"

Imagine a perfectly round hollow sphere. Nothing inside, not even you. Now we imagine the inside of that sphere is one seamless mirrored surface, without even a speck of dust on it. Now find your awareness in the middle of that sphere... not you, just your invisible imagination. Now... what is seen in the perfectly round mirrored walls? What color is produced? What is reflected to infinity?

I invented this puzzle when i was little and it took me awhile to figure out, and now it is becoming clearer in my old age why i would think about it...

The answer is unknown. It is the empty of all empties. The nothing of nothings. The darkest of darks. And we could never find out (no matter how much i try to build the model in my head). Why? There can be no light. And there can be no you. As soon as there is a you, there is a perspective. And something that is reflected. As soon as there is a light, there is a something... and it is no longer an empty sphere. It is something only your awareness can enter, a place where your eyes are useless (and most likely deceive you).

"There are no vanishing points in an infinite space." To be clear, the infinite space was defined (and no longer infinite) the moment four pieces of wood were nailed together and covered in cloth to make "a canvas". And there are no vanishing points in an infinite space, but there are no real vanishing points in any space. A vanishing point is an illusion.

For those of you reading that didn't have to take Drawing 101, a vanishing point is an idea used in Western drawing and painting defined as such: the point at which receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge. OR the point at which something that has been growing smaller or increasingly faint disappears altogether.

What is interesting is that around the same time the Euros started figuring out the world was round, was about the same time they started painting it like it was flat. The horizon became a straight line at eye level, and when something went far enough away... it vanished.

The vanishing point also relates to time. By acknowledging a vanishing point we place ourselves onto an infinite tightrope, aka a timeline. The future is "down the road", the past is "where we came from". Separations and Distances are soon to follow, as well as Hierarchies. "Those smaller things are far away from me." Again, we train our eyes to lie to us, based on what realities we want to believe. And what is it we want to believe in the US? (We're #1! We're #1!) But none of this is new, and since the new is now, let's "move on".

I think the internet, the "War on Terror", and the network culture, are actually having an interesting effect on USAmerican painting. I'm not sure we have actually come any closer to being able to stomach emptiness as USAmericans, but we are doing a really good job at killing context and mistaking it for infinite space and i figure that's gotta count for something... Emptiness, Weight, Dark, and Silence, are very much Un-American states (nobody tell 'em what it really means to be free... chaos will ensue).

But, "getting back to the original point", a canvas is not actually an infinite space. Just like a window is not an opening, and a door is not a portal. Nature is not outdoors. Out West is not out anywhere. And the New World is not new now and it wasn't new then. It's the same world of illusions it always was, and the only infinite space we can visit is when we close our eyes (so to speak). Magritte sums it up nicely:


monument I

(history is doomed to be refurbished)



memory as a weapon

I have been investigating the idea of memory as a weapon for awhile now, beginning in 2002 with a trip to South Africa, listening to a gallery director speak about what would happen to the monuments of the white Afrikaner, and what new monuments of the struggle against apartheid would look like.

HLIB's post regarding the trend toward mass photography relates to this for me, and is also something in which i take great interest (i am able to call myself a professional photographer... but i usually don't).

It is truly fascinating what a guerilla weapon the camera has become around the world thanks to digital technology. We take aim at the elite, at the structures we oppose, at leaders, celebrities, the media, the police... anyone who poses a threat to our space, our history and our security.

And why arm yourself with a gun when a camera can do so much more damage? Murder creates a martyr while a camera can dissolve an enemy and their legacy. From political figures to that bitch in 2nd period who thinks she's all hot because she's got big boobs and all the boys look at her.

So what is memory if it is a weapon? Do we use it to conquer or control history? Or is memory our only real way of rebelling against our own mortality? Are digital cameras just the new weapon of choice in the War on Time?

Beyond the use of memory to battle our own legacy and mortality, is the need to fight against our own insignifigance. Digital photos, myspace, blogging, garage band, iMovie, etc... where we might feel even a glimmer of what it is like to hold some importance in the world. (even if we buy it and never use it...) Where once the Star Bellied Sneetches used to be the one's with the cameras... now we all have stars on our bellies.

The drawbacks are many. Sure, with more cameras in the world, we will be able to capture more of the important events. And with more ways to share and endless space in which to share (the internet), we can flood it all out there. But while we always talk of how vast and endless the space of the internet, we seem to forget that it is bound by time... our time. We don't have the time to cover all of this new feed of "information" (not that it is informative). And for those of us who spend enough time on the computer, if you use all your time covering the vast universe of the internet to gather up all it has to offer... you have no time to do anything with it.

What this means folks, is that we are headed for an "information" recession. Our attention span is working its way back down to zero. Why? Because if every big story is the big story, then there are no big stories. If every photo is the big photo, there are no photos. And this is the time we live in. (A time when a politician can get away with saying Iraq is actually peaceful, but we only see the violence.... If every day of war is peace, then there is no peace.) No tradgedy, no shocking events, no breaking news, no news at all... nothing to mark the day.

Like the star on the belly... the transformative power of that camera is only in our heads. MySpace does not make you famous. Only 30 people will ever read this post. Only 5% of our photos are worth looking at again... (even less when we aren't the ones looking.)

And photos don't bring us any closer to truth. Not even if you're really really good at photoshop.

I'm predicting two possible outcomes after the crash:

In the first, we all turn off our computers and our cable news networks and walk outside, sans camera and ipod and cell phone (yes with camera and ipod inside, you cheaters), with our families, and we smile silently while we watch our children laugh and we listen to sounds we haven't heard for a long time.

In the second, and sorry, but most likely... we find away to take away the middle man. Realizing that the vastness of the internet is still small enough to fit in our minds, we make ourselves download capable (a combination of cell infused computer chips and the Matrix)... Everything is now on file and accessible and can move as fast as the mind (giving us the Time we were lacking before). Now it all comes to us wi-fi on demand. The news, images of your family, images of nature, the sounds of birds, and your children's laughter, all of your dreams and memories... all "information"... right there in your head.

No no no!!!... that's where you draw the line, right? right?

Well then... why not draw it right now?