here’s the “artists statement” for my show this year. I hate artists statements sort of.
I’ve been showing my new paintings and collage every year since about 1996. I started showing at Leonardo’s 706 when I washed dishes there. Local artist and wild man, Lennie Kesl, would always come see my show and give me encouragement and advice. Later when I opened Satchel’s, Lennie thought it would be a good idea if we showed our art together every December and January. We had a show together every year since Satchel’s opened in 2003.
Last year Lennie had a fall and died at the age of 86. He and I were a week away from hanging our annual show. I was able to borrow some of Lennie’s works and hang that show without him. He is sorely missed as there seems to be a spark that has gone out in this town.
Lennie would often give me boxes of scrap material and wallpaper samples for collage. I always seemed to have some collage material of my own to use and so those boxes collected dust. But this year I started through them and have created the bulk of my collages from material given to me by Lennie. In honor of him I have worked three times as hard as usual to make over 20 pieces to fill the restaurant with all new works never before displayed.
Lennie always seemed to work 3 times as hard as anyone else and seemed to do about 3 times as much stuff as other folks. He was a sweet and funny old fellow.
I am excited to display these 2013 works. I feel I have covered some old ground in my simple paintings, and explored deep into new territory with some of the more intricate and colorful collages. These works eagerly express where I go when I slip out to my studio for some “unpacking.” It’s as if I sort my unconscious over and over into shapes and colors, fabrics and patterns. Some days are busy and manic, others are simple and easy. I hope you find something in them.
The thing is I think the pieces should be able to tell their own story. the statement somehow makes the artist more real, and i get a glimpse of someone behind the mask. don’t get me wrong, i LIKE reading other people’s artists statements. i LIKE to get some more info on the artist for sure. but i dont like having to be the one writing the artist statement. it somehow seems too contrived, thin, under developed… i mean, what can i say? am i supposed to try and tell my whole life story there? should i explain to the viewer what they should see when they gaze on a collage? should i explain how the shapes relate to the relationships and the fabric shows depth of emotion? hell no. that’s the part i don’t want to play. so i try and say ‘something’ to give some hints about the show, but not tell you much about what in the heck posseses me to keep making these same images over and over in new colors, sizes, and materials.
i don’t want to tell you prices or titles either. the titles will sway you to a piece or steer you away. that’s silly. they are just titles that mean something for me. why would i want them to send you one way or another like those terrible names they give to color swatches these days…. i find a color i like then notice is called amber revolution or some stupid thing and i fight the urge to be persuaded by anything BUT THE COLOR> “antique snow”
no names unless you want to buy it, ha. then there’s price. c’mon, really? i am supposed to put a sticker on each one telling you how many dollars i will trade for it? i understand that part. i need the dollars for the christmas presents. i need the dollars for the gas in the automobile. i need the dollars for the cell phone bill. but i am fortunate that making paintings is not a job i need for dollars. my job is making a restaurant work. it is a hard enough profession that it pays enough to cover the expenses listed above. and so sure they are for sale but how much do you have? it’s a sliding scale.
i like hanging my artwork. i like it because i can show you EXACTLY how i feel about so many things, all at once, encompassing my entire 2013 experience save december, and i don’t have to use silly words, fonts, computers or technology. i paint them, and they come out making sense to me. they tell me back the stories of my experience. they speak to me of cleverness, conceit, humility or struggle. they remind me of family, honesty, simplicity and religion. they show me somewhere i want to go, they encourage me to the future. they brag about how far i’ve come, they show off but in practical silence. you might see some of these things and not even know it. you might see none of it and not care. it’s just some shapes and colors hanging there in your world. i just hope they can be like looking for things in the clouds. “oh, i see a flying pig” “i see a strange flat heart”
or maybe they are so integrated, they disappear completely. “how do you do that? ” they say nothing at all. their whispers are so soft you can’t hear at all. is it somehow looking back at you?
i’m not afraid to say that i love painting so much more than writing. not because painting is better, no, writing has so many advantages over painting. but because painting is so much more of an expressive medium for me. the words i know get so trapped up and don’t come out right. the paintings always come out like they are supposed to. even when i do paintings i don’t like very much, they are still there to bridge some gap between this place and the next. they don’t embarrass me like writing always does. well, they embarrass me a little sometimes, but not nearly as flagrantly.
you see, i have become all that i hate about artists statements. i have tried to put art into words on a page. i have tried too hard to explain the meanings and inspirations i enjoy. it does not translate into your language. please forgive me. please forget this blog post ever existed. please take an extra few minutes to look at the things that hang in your house. why are they there? what are they saying? in what ways do they help you along? if at all.