May 17, 2018

By Sweetness Alone

Sitting among the bluebells
in my sorrow, for lost time
and the never forgotten dead,
I saw a hummingbird stand
in air to drink from flowers.
It was a kiss he took and gave.
At his lightness and the ardor
of his throat, the song I live by
stirred my mind. I said:
"By sweetness alone it survives."

- Wendell Berry, "The Strait"

Mixed media on canvas, 60" x 45"

Who ain't a sucker for hummingbirds? Someone told me there were only a handful of varieties in all of California and much less than there used to be, but I've never seen more in any other place I've lived.

Not long ago an aloe plant I keep in a pot sent up a tall shoot with an alien-like flower and from our bedroom we could see the flower in the morning, a hummingbird often sucking away at it, helicoptering quietly in the air behind the pane. It was a double shot of pure magnificence.

And sometimes when I'm in the back tinkering, a little guy will come up from behind, beat it wings like a giant insect, and scare the bejeebers out of me. Once I could swear one was a drone.

It have no idea where in my noggin this highly improvised, highly collaged painting came from, but the thought of a bunch of hummingbirds jigging in a pattern in front of one of L.A.'s ubiquitous super freeway exchanges, all fluorescent and lit up, like blown bits of ads, kept me laughing for much of the time I worked on it.

I'll be showing the painting this weekend at the Beverly Hills Artshow and next weekend at the Redlands Festival of the Arts. For more info, check out my website.

Have a good one!

May 8, 2018

Hollywood Freeway

Mixed media on birch panel, 48" x 24"

"Hey, did you see this one?" a guy asked me at a fair recently, not knowing I was the artist, his face pretzelled like he'd passed through a fart. "It's a freeway. Why would anyone want that?"

I wanted to respond with something like, yeah, precisely, why would anyone want it? Better one more naked woman on canvas, porno but not really, because it's art. Or a safe bunch of flowers, all happy and lively because that's the mantra these days. Or a postcard that reflects, in  L.A. especially, the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Instead I said, "imagine," or something, because I have a brain that embodies the snail and a tongue that swells in such situations.

For fusspots like myself it isn't the hundred compliments that stick but the one criticism, and so I've been scratching my head, wondering how much of a point he had.

For me it is about beauty, albeit not the glassy, glossy kind. Someone said the gateway drug was not creating art but experiencing it, and yeah, I've had those experiences and want to recreate them. It's also, though, about honesty, realness, a lack of cynicism and BS, old-fashioned ideas in the art world for sure, but whatever.

Oddly, a collection of Wendell Berry's farmer poems has been helping.

- From "The Clearing":
Vision must have severity
at its edge:

against neglect,
bushes grown over the pastures,
vines riding down
the fences, the cistern broken;

against the false vision
of the farm dismembered,
sold in pieces on the condition
of the buyer's ignorance,
a disorderly town
of "houses in the country"
inhabited by strangers;

against indifference, the tracks
of the bulldozer running
to gullies...
- From "History"
Through my history's despite
and ruin, I have come
to its remainder, and here
have made the beginning
of a farm  to become
my art of being here.
I would like also "being here" to be my art.