April 23, 2018

Mini #84: Fork You

Oil on panel, 5" x 5", custom skid frame

I love L.A. tree. They never left the punk era. They grow out of concrete, are studded with nails and staples, and smell like cheap perfume. The bare trunks fork into branches which, looked the right way, flip you the bird. "Man, piss off, I'm growin' here. What are you doing?"

I'll have this mini painting, packaged in a bespoke, reclaimed wood frame at the Mission Federal Artwalk in San Diego this weekend, booth 866. Come around!

April 17, 2018

The Desert Within

Oil on panel, 48" x 36"
I was in the desert on some federally unrecognized indigenous group's land, with the suburbanites who've bought the story about dropping out, living minimally, and self-reliance.

I was trying to absorb the sacred essence. Remember Carlos Castaneda, the Teachings of Don Juan?

That week's movie was Zabriskie Point and I was dying to roll around naked. But it was torchy, everything sandpaper. The sun on the moon. And what the hell was that blob of black spikes anyway?

I sauntered round the back way to the perch and gazed down at the rock climbers with their ropes and puffing faces come up the hard way. One dude made it up and I offered my hand to help him over a final hump, but he refused, proud. Said something, none too pleased but still chummy about a "muscle-fuck" and a "beach bash," and I said, "yeah, man," in a commiserating way.

Then I got into the position of the vajrasana and took out the ayahuasca a hippie with an army bumper sticker gave me near the gas station.

And that was when the vision came: a budding cactus, southern cholla with an aspect of northern sumach. Dry-iced and shattered. Suspended in the air against an oozing sky and disjointed land.

Come on, come on, my kid wakes me. You're just joking.

April 12, 2018

Water Under the Bridge

Mixed media on birch panel, 40" x 12"
I've been reading Paul Beatty's The Sellout, a novel set in L.A. which tackles every hypocrisy and sacred cow of American life you care to think about, in ways that make you laugh and cringe and sometimes second-guess whether either response is appropriate, kind of like a Quentin Tarantino film. Not many novels in this day and age of smooth, frictionless aesthetics make you squirm as much.

At base, the book gets at a society that is, ultimately, empty or rotten or meaningless at its core, in the heart and mind. How else do you explain the politics, the crass compensatory consumption, the knee-jerk flag waving, largely passed over as normal despite how the media and its quest for sensations that sell makes it look otherwise, especially outside the U.S.

Joan Didion talked about how everyone who lives in L.A. has to come to terms with the meaningless of life there, even to embrace it, and I feel her.

I think I'm homesick, pining, letting my head play those games. They are games for as much as we would like to think differently, no grass is really greener, only different, but the emotions are real, like talking to a pet and believing it understand your human words.

This painting is the fruit, one particular version of home few would think you'd miss anyway. But I do.

April 11, 2018

In the Abstract (No. 11)

Mixed media on birch panel, 8" x 8"
I watched a good documentary the other day called Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry. I didn't know anything about Berry but the title intrigued me, and the fact that Berry is a farmer, writer, and activist from Kentucky, not a blend of identities you often hear.

At one point he gets talking about the economy. The "money economy" is not the only economy, he insists. "The world is in fact full of free things that are delightful. Flowers. The world is also full of people who would rather pay for something to kill the dandelions than to appreciate the dandelions. Well, I'm a dandelion man myself."

Yeah, yeah, I thought. And not just dandelions but puddles, snails, clouds, the sky, the moon. Pigeons, for sure.

All the things kids stop or slow you down to notice.