Friday, June 26, 2020
abstractions for a new world
It`s slow going but these awkward new paintings have my full attention. I needed a fresh approach to my work in response to the pandemic bomb. The suffering and anxiety in the world has caused a blessed clarity to questions I have wrestled with for years. Matters of career and aging, commitment and legacy. I`m much more clear as to what is most important right now. How or when this work is seen is of little concern. I want to see them. However long it takes to make one. Finally I can live with the uncertainty inherent in painting abstract work. Everything is unsettled. Still plenty of fear but some patience now too. I`ve learned to set them aside when I get stuck. In view but not obsessed over. Eventually a way back in is revealed. Not the solution but crumbs on the trail. Meanwhile I have others in process that I can turn my attention to. For the longest time there has been a sense of urgency in my painting process. Like a race. I hope that is over.
It takes nearly nine minutes to change the country.
When an officer of the law stares into a camera as he slowly suffocates an unarmed man to death, the despair of countless generations is grasped in an instant. We heaved with revulsion and recognition. Black lives do not matter and they never have.
Why now? Why the sudden, visceral understanding of privilege?
Well, the corona virus has stripped away all of our expectations of normalcy and this vulnerability has broke us open.
When the job disappears with its health coverage, schools are closed, businesses shuttered, all sporting and cultural events cancelled, and affection potentially deadly, the calamity alters us. How could it not? Now watch a black man be murdered under someones knee. The center cannot hold. We now possess enough horror to listen. The moral convulsion our country finally experienced is among the most heartening things I`ve ever witnessed. This moment must be acted upon and I believe we will. The misery and insecurity are only deepening. We are in big trouble. 'Normal' won`t work anymore, this global catastrophe will demand a creative and cooperative effort.
The Republican Party having so recently failed to remove a hateful and destructive president, will be swept into the sea like Pharaoh`s army. Then we can coax and nurture our country back into health. This time with justice.
Ta Nehisi Coates says nothing will change for African Americans unless white people want it. This white guy does, and I`m not alone.
I`m sure late to the Austin Kleon party! What was I thinking when I set back down his 'How to Steal like an Artist' at the airport? This guy is a juggernaut of inspiration! Just look at his blog, he is so imaginative yet practical.
This parenting manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson was featured in the Spring. I will never be a parent but I sure appreciate the attitude here;
I`ve painted outdoors a couple of times this season. As always it`s the social aspect that I enjoy the most. Even with 6 feet between us. With my focus on abstraction now, I doubt I`ll be as dedicated as previous summers. Being still, outside in the warm air, is so special. Most of the time I`m down in my basement studio and though I love it, it is a hole in the ground. The breeze is up above.
I`ve just recently bumped into Jennifer Packer`s work. She`s a painter`s painter in that she revels in the physicality of the paint and makes it speak. I strongly believe if an artist paints representationally, they will excel in proportion to their drawing ability. Jennifer is a master of line. Like I said she`s new to me and I had noted her sensitivity in painting African American men. I only now looked up her bio to provide a link here and I see she is black. I suspect she drew her family growing up.
Here`s a treat, Nina Simone singing Bob Dylan`s 'Just Like Tom Thumb`s Blues'. The lyrics are classic Dylan, enigmatic and conversational with her voice clear, tender and vulnerable.
by Dave Eggers
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