The menu above is meant to be a self-guided tour, so please do explore away. In the coming months this site will be much more fleshed out, with more works and series included. For now, it’s streamlined and serves more as a brief introduction to my work along the way.
Soon to come: New portfolio style galleries of individual works in series.
Welcome to a New Site Launch for a New Decade of Works
Art follows in all guises. I did a quick curatorial sweep through some images last night to find a few images that could represent home. One’s home. Others’ homes. Whether land, building, embankment, sky, or road. I thought it to be a good way to inaugurate my new home page, for now.
You’re going to see a wide variety of works, styles, methods, modes and series, for I’m building this site from two points of view. The first is to highlight my current works as an introduction, with blogs and commentary at times chronicling my studio process and direction.
The second is as an overview of a lifelong body of work as an artist. This site will eventually host an archive of artworks I’ve created over the course of my career. But for now it’s very new, still with some improvements coming in the next few weeks, and a few test runs on some options for display that I’m considering on the site design itself. For now though, it will focus on current works and series which feed into the new effort, the Hybrids and Vestiges artworks, which are both digital and organic artworks. The former is more a descriptive method of what is to come; the latter a reference to many of the root elements of my art which I am drawing from, no matter the media or process. Which means, you’re going to see a lot of variety of imagery here.
What’s in a label?
In short, I’m an interdisciplinary artist. And a person who really shies away from labels, and labeling, in a very label-conscious world. For a person who first started as a painter around the age of 12, and who thought of himself as a painter despite forays into other media for 33 years after that, it was a curious excursion along the way. Life accretes. So do working creative methodologies. Eventually, all things merge into a flow which grants one license to explore different modes of communication; to feed from an expanded palette. It seems to me a natural evolutionary destination in the life of an artist.
Interdisciplinary thought and process didn’t arrive by any conscious choice but by an osmotic evolution of sorts, stemming from many of my interests as a person, and an artist. Many personal histories contributed to this direction: art, spirit, world, nation, state, town, community, society, environment and mind. As did a number of series of works over the years, which seemed to warp and weave into each other in some kind of delicate dance, resulting in what I’ve been exploring for the last three years—a way to weld a visual narrative from disparate parts of life and creative methodologies. A way to peace and to healing.
A way to bring it back home.
Urge for Going, above, is a small working sketch, which will then become an element of a larger assemblage piece within the new Hybrid works, a heavily process-driven series which I’ll be revving up more on my return home to Santa Fe in September 2019. Many different elements will come into play in this series. Some conventional, some digital. In time, interactive installations along with exhibits accompanied by sound and projected imagery will allow a fully immersive environmental experience, and a narrative engagement with viewers are all part of the plan.
The new Hybrid works
A strong common theme in all my works, even from ages back, has always been the nature of community, friendships, and extended relationships. I’m enamored with narratives of persons, and the society they form when cloistered together. As well as the entropy of order, association, and social structure. Everything is mutable, although we tend to cling to the idea of everything being anchored in place, or immutable. The fracas that results from change almost has the role of an ancient demigod figure often called the Trickster. Gremlins in the machine. Jinxes. All relate to the mind’s wish to humanize and normalize the nature and constancy of change. A good many years back, a fellow by the name of Paul Gauguin titled a large painting “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” It was painted in Tahiti; Gauguin’s attempt to escape the world by finding a small island in a vast ocean. About the best one can say of his effort is that Gauguin succeeded in escaping Europe, but not his conscience, nor the amorphous and relentless engine of change.
Therein lies the rub. I would edit Gauguin’s title, given the power to do so, to read “Who are we?”
The Hybrids are going to explore this sense of who through the world legacy of photographs strewn along and throughout our collective history. It begins with persons close to me, those persons known from childhood who should be easily nuanced from images taken by hands who had held their hands, eyes which had tried to retain their visage in mind long after the one pictured had passed. There is another form of passage however—for the photographer is the first to go in the creation of the photo, the first in absence, for they are the creator and must recede from view. And being so, they must relenquish their place as soon as the image is printed by whatever means. Creators are not meant to be known, yet their works may become known to others around the world. In time though, as emulsions are browned and tarnished by the air we breathe, these little slips of paper, curling and becoming brittle with the passage of Time, serve to summon memories of love long past, of people long gone from view and extracted from matters of the heart, sometimes too soon. The paper image becomes the avatar lost, that which is no more, and clouded though the misdirection of our own mind’s trickery, which we name as memory.
It is this chimera we call a photograph which I’ll be delving into for some time into my own future. I have a gut feeling it will be the one series of works that I will never see an end to, for it has visited my mind as a concept far too many times over the last two decades to be let go of, like just another discarded snapshot, or the separated half of that photo torn away to banish all verification of that other person. Such an act is meant to edit away. The ultimate direction for all the process pieces that will erupt from composing the final, primary works is to lead to a final chapter; a culmination. That final summation of the river of narrative which informs us as we make art eventually becomes an island, somewhere that we never envisioned. A physical place to belong. After all these years, that’s how I grasp the manner in which a work of art arises, then coalesces into it’s final form. In this case, a painting brought into being by all the studies of it’s constituent parts.
Yet as soon as it’s form is acknowledged, when the artist steps back from a work and declares—or accepts— it as “finished,” it’s own entropy begins.
The images you’ll see of these early Hybrid pieces will allow you a view into the evolution of these works, the way they fold in together with other such works. I’ll be posting at times about the fluid nature of creating, and following one’s intuition though an immersive engagement with a work. At other times, communicating ideas and directions, and also some pictorial stages of working. All of these are glimpses, really, into the day-to-day of making art. But the blogs will usually be eclectic responses to just what the morning reveals or the end of day awakens in my thoughts.
I hope that each work, as with the spark which may engender a flame, will offer up a story to those who view them. They aren’t, like the photographs which inspired them into being, meant to be of a person known to us, but of a collective sense of an other whom we have never known, and as such, they represent us all. But who exactly is us, in this day, and in this age? Like those family photographs passed down through the generations who can only be viewed quizzically by all those still alive, the subject has receded into the mists of Time. Yet, we have it on the best authority—the family legacy—that we were affected by the likenesses’ once living presence; the unknown life of that person. We are linked to the now-stranger staring into the space just before our eyes, their eyes never seeing again, utterly incapable of perceiving us, for they are but emulsion ignited by light emitted long ago, chemically summoning form and countenance to the amazement of eyes long closed. They can not speak. They can not hear. They can only stand in mute reverence to the proof in our hands that they once truly existed.
It is said that ghosts will roam the earth until the last person who knew them while living speaks their name for the last time.
A Finality in Time
Below is an older image of a Tradd Street sign from the neighborhood of my earliest place in Charleston in 2003, just before moving to the wilds of Johns Island in late 2005, and later to Summerville in October 2007. Having moved to New Mexico in February 2011, I’ve often gazed at images I made in the past with a kind of wonder, as if one is looking at another’s work. This is a common occurrence for most artists I think, as we are equipped through our body of work to revisit times distant. In this way, the art we make serves an illustrative purpose, much as a photo or painting is used in books and the media to elaborate words.
Leaving Charleston, South Carolina in the Autumn of 2005 was hard, as I’d come to love my old third floor flat at the corner of Rutledge and Beaufain. This was the last photo I ever took as an official Charleston resident, at nearly 3am. There’s a deep personal poignancy to this image, for while still in the metro area until January 2011, all photographs made of the Holy City by me from that night forward were as a visitor.
I had written this italicized text above back in September 2018, when I thought I would be returning home to Santa Fe by the end of that year. It was meant to be a long caption for the above sign photograph made back in 2005. The best laid plans, according to Steinbeck, often go awry. When dealing with things we really can not control, this adage becomes compounded very quickly.
Being back home was due to circumstances no one would wish for, but was one of those milestones in life we must all experience if we live long enough. While it has been a difficult passage, and very often a sorrow due to loss to have been back in my native state, I was at times able to revisit a few places meaningful to me in my past. Like the countryside around my hometown of Kershaw. My adopted home city of Columbia, which I will always love. Tradd, Rutledge, Beaufain, and Parkwood defined the area I first lived on relocating to Charleston in 2002, and in many ways it’s one my cherished places in Life, for it revealed a lot of my home state’s nature to me in those three years spent there. Especially the last location, for it was a place of learning and sharing, of great peace and joy. A new sequence of images will emerge from that chance to walk through these locations again, and within a few weeks will appear here. Then, probably late September, this free-form written intro will be edited into a blog and dropped into the flow of things on that side of this website.
Thanks for being here, and I hope you’ll enjoy wandering these pages.