June 20, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 2, Zion



The best part about Vegas is leaving. We made neither gains nor losses, because who can stand sitting in front of a pinball machine on speed and steroids anyway.

Desert, lots of it, and grey and monotonous through Nevada and the northwest corner of Arizona. Then Utah and it's all thick slabs of cheese and chocolate with a sprinkling of green in the valleys.

In Zion National Park, Utah, it's so hot setting up camp, especially pumping up the new blasted inflatable mattresses, I get dizzy.

The deer aren't too smart - they come right up to you.

We explore The Narrows, a deep crevice cut through the mountains with a river in it. Nothing like wading in cool water to freshen the whole body.

At night, a ranger talk on astronomy. We see Jupiter and its moons through a telescope. Conclusions: we're minuscule as a species, not even a single granule in the whole world of sand and dirt and dust combined. But we don't know it because we’re polluting the sky with artificial light, making it harder and harder to see even the biggest, most obvious stars. Did you know, artificial light so corrodes melatonin and warps the circadian rhythm that it's carcinogenic? Goddammit, even that!




June 18, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 1, Vegas

The hardest part about a trip like this is getting out the door. Then it's fine.

The California interior along the 15 is bleak. Dry as a bone. Dust storms. Abandonment.




In degree, Vegas is worse than we expect. A sewer of advertising. A relentless dopamine rush. Labyrinths of slots and blackjack pits. People pay for this?

We cool off in the pool of our "resort hotel," Circus Circus, "because life is a circus - let's play!"

On the strip afterwards, a drunken reveler surrounded by Chippendales and more walkers than we've seen anywhere outside of New York in the U.S., shouts, "Get the damn kids away. No kids here."

We find two quarters. I spend mine on a slot and lose. My daughter gives hers to a homeless guy.


Onward ho today to Utah.

June 7, 2018

A Few of the Things it Chops

24" x 48", collage, spray, and acrylic on birch panel

School is ending and the household is busier. We're getting ready to set out on a 2,500 mile journey by car in a week and have only just, I hope, secured all the campsites and hotels. Oh, and we've just received news about our immigration status which amounts to a punch in the gut. But the painting, happily, keeps apace.

In a time of perpetual change and movement, the feeling of running harder and faster only to stay in the same place, it's been important for me to cling to stuff, like a primordial lifeform on a deep-sea vent. I'm reluctant to throw out old familiar clothing and whenever the flux thwarts routines and anchors, I frantically reassert them.

This piece is heavily collaged, meant to reflect, I think, the scattered sensations I've taken in and struggled to assemble into some sort of meaningful picture. It should be with me at TOAE in July. Just need to get my suction cups off of it.

June 1, 2018

Lo-Gas Eat

36" x 48", acrylic, oil, spray, and collage on birch panel
Collage is "an evolution beyond narrative," an "antigenre," claims David Shields in Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. The "art of reassembling fragments of preexisting images in such a way as to form a new image was the most important innovation in the art of the twentieth century."

Shields goes on, "By incorporating materials that are inextricably linked to the realities of daily life, the collage artist establishes an immediate identification, both real and imagined, between the viewer and the work of art."

I've long been interested in collage, going back to middle school and hearing Grandmaster Flash for the first time, or reading T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" in a high school poetry anthology, or seeing Josep Renau's war posters in an exhibition during a long-ago trip to Spain.

Album cover, 1982
Renau, "El fascinante Rey del PetrĂ³leo," 1957
These days I'm getting interested in not just working collage into recognizable scenes but using it to construct new ideas, as a driver for the image-making itself.

The straightforward scene, depending on how it is cropped and presented, how it is stylized, can deceive, but taking ready-made chunks and synthesizing or making sense out of them feels honest, maybe the realer tool to tap into reality.