Le Temps Perdu

2 Feb

When I was invited to send two small pieces to the StolenSpace Love/Hate show on somewhat tight timeline, I thought it would be a good challenge. I don’t believe that I’ve painted anything under 4 feet in height in many, many years, nor have I often tried to respond to an assigned theme.

Luckily I was told I could respond to that theme in as loose and abstract a manner as I wanted. For both 18″x18″ pieces (tiny, fergodssake!) I’ve painted mockingbirds engaged in the more ambiguous stages of the mating ritual. Love? Hate? A feathery fluster.

I was interested in further pursuing my recent practice of combining wildlife with images of the most human landscapes, overbuilt environments, decadent interiors, symbols of status and civilization. In searching about for some imagery of bars and taverns (where better to engage in ambiguous mating battles?) I came across some very interesting, poetic neon signs, and thought I should give it a shot: maybe I could paint neon.

My response to “Love” features the amorously engaged mockingbirds, double-exposed with the neon sign for Le Temps Perdu in Paris. The bar’s name translates to “The Lost Time”.

My response to “Hate” features another tussle, and the sign for a Belgian bar called A La Mort Subite… “To the Sudden Death”.

Then again, you might well switch which painting is associated with which emotion and find something more in these. Who am I to say?

I am not sure about small paintings, but I might try one again.

As for the neon, I think I can paint it! It bears another attempt.

In fact, I think I’ll go work on one right now.

Starships

31 Jan

Well, here is a new process option that has my eyes wide!

Invited to make a print for the upcoming StolenSpace “Love and Hate” show, I immediately thought to create an elaborate, hand-lettered piece.

Granted, I very often think of – and indeed follow though on – creating elaborate, hand-lettered pieces. However, it had never before occurred to me that I might scan such pieces, and have them printed on luscious, thick stock in interesting and colorful inks. But here we are.

Here is a sneak preview of my print, silkscreened right around the corner at The Headlight Hotel.

Here’s a detail showing the flip of the gold ink. This midnight blue and gold colorway will be exclusive to StolenSpace in an edition of 50. Stay tuned for future print releases though, dig?

The quote I’ve used here is by Jeanette Winterson, an author who has endured as one of my very favorite for her elaborate and evocative wordplay. I’d love to send her one of these prints but she’s kind of a big deal; her website seems to imply that I’d need to, you know, send a starship in order to make contact with here. Still… if you know her… tell her to drop me a line. Hopefully not of the “cease and desist” variety.

“Two things significantly distinguish human beings from the other animals; an interest in the past and the possibility of language. Brought together they make a third: Art. The invisible city not calculated to exist. Beyond the lofty pretensions of the merely ceremonial, long after the dramatic connivings of plitical life, like it or not, it remains. Time past eternally present and undestroyed.” 
-Jeanette Winterson, Art and Lies

“Know thyself,’ said Socrates.
Know thyself,’ said Sappho, ‘and make sure that the Church never finds out.”
-Jeanette Winterson, Art and Lies

Old German movie, new internet technology; go!

27 Nov

In 1994 Wim Wenders made a film called Lisbon Story, which I didn’t discover until about a decade later. It’s a simple but rich film set in Lisbon (duh) and, to many viewers, a spare and beautiful love letter to the place. To any image maker however, the film is a somewhat terrifying portrait of the interior crisis we often face over how to create a “true” image. In it, a photographer has gone on a somewhat cracked-up quest after finally becoming convinced that the act of looking at an image, never mind planning it, inevitable pollutes and distorts it. He’s strapped his camera to his back and, unable to see what it’s filming and thereby unable to frame or influence it, believes he’s finally taking images in a truly objective way. Naturally, he’s also storing all of the film away somewhere where it can never be viewed, because to view it would also alter and diminish it.

Or, uh, here’s a summary by an online reviewer who manages to be more eloquent and simultaneously way more convoluted than I: “In the Year Zero of the fledgling megalorepublic of Europa, an ambivalent image-maker, world-renowned, resenting the idolatry of images and his own complicity in their propagation, has gone missing, lost on a quixotic quest to give birth to cinema again, blaming the eye itself for seeing images and after-images in the infinity of the cranial cavity.”

Indeed.

Of course, this seems like a far-fetched character, but one  I’ve always loved for the conversation he provokes (a conversation between myself and myself at least, in my head) about image making. When I first saw Lisbon Story, it spoke to the ex-photographer in me; photography was the first art form in which I trained, and extensively, but it’s also one I abandoned a long time ago due to some of the same ambivalence. I haven’t thought about the film in a long time, until today, while I sacrificed hours to a great gorge of research into art and documentary projects that have been made with Google Street View, one of my abiding obsessions.

How interesting to realize that the Google Street View car, which was “born” in 2007, 13 years after Lisbon Story was made, has essentially taken up the same cause as the film’s captivating and mostly-absent main character.  I often dedicate countless late-night hours to investigations of remote areas in Google maps (and Jay calls me out on my craziness when I claim to be “driving” the Google car, as well as “driving” the Google earth satellite), and find this genuinely exciting. I’ve had a profound desire of late to work this fascination into some new art projects, so I’ve been trying to figure out the irresistible appeal of the Street View images. I now realize that the Google Street view car, like the Lisbon Story dude, is fascinating for its seeming pursuit of neutrality. It documents, but in a completely automated way. It shoots with its nine lenses every 10 to 20 meters while the driver of the car, completely uninvolved with the camera, drives a pre-determined route. The camera may as well be strapped to someone’s back; it seems as dispassionate and objective as a camera could possibly be. Ditto the Google Earth satellite, for I am not really driving it. It simply travels, capturing what it sees without intention or judgement.

Seems to me that this automation and objectivity is what leaves room for fascination, for us to feel as if we may use these technologies to truly investigate,  and with the hope of seeing something that hasn’t been seen before. Because who knows what was documented behind the google car, while the driver was looking forward? And has any human truly looked over the satellite imagery from this little corner of the forest? Or this one?

Unlike the images in Lisbon Story that end up hidden away, the Google Street View images end up on the internet, being viewed and interpreted and contextualized and altered by millions of viewers. A number of people have begun pushing this further, curating very striking images from Street View for artistic and documentary projects. Without getting into discussions about copyright or voyeurism or any of the other interesting issues these projects bring up, I just want to share them.

Aaron Hobson’s “cinemascapes” of striking, remote areas.

…and a great interview about his project.

Jon Rafman’s 9-eyes project

…and an essay about the 9-eyes project

Michael Wolf’s “Unfortunate Events”

And that is that for now. Enjoy.

We ARE though.

14 Oct

Civil, East Greenwich.

Moved from a small storefront to a huge storefront on a tight timeline. Hired me to paint their window signage.

Graciously conceded to my plea that they keep the ‘We Are’ in front of their name in the logo, despite a certain amount of dissent from other parties. I mean, come on. Such a good multi-entendre.

Four windows, one week, painted while the innards of the store were renovated by a team of delightful, singing magicians with nail guns. Lots of sawdust speeding my paint’s drying time.

Witness:

 

Bondir, Bondirer, Bondirest

26 Sep

I’ve just finished one of my biggest outside-of-the-studio projects, for Bondir restaurant up in Cambridge. Legendary, adventurous and awfully nice chef-owner Jason Bond invited me to paint a mural on his new establishment’s side wall last year, and I got started right before it got too cold to paint. Thanks to everyone who commented on the grievously unfinished fragment of a mural all winter!

Once we got going, my role at Bondir expanded from mural painter to multiple-surface-wrangler. First, I whitewashed the brick of the otherwise dark building, and hand-painted the swashy logo upon the brick itself. I also got to paint the trim of the window frame… it needed to match the interior, which features a lot of this sage green.

 

Next, I was tasked with hand lettering various script pieces around the building. Inside, the doors of the ladies and men’s rooms and the kitchen all feature the appropriate conjugations of the french noun “bondir” (to leap… also a convenient play on Jason’s last name, eh?).

 


Outside, the brick entryway is adorned with the restaurant’s hours and website.  Sign paint on brick is a fickle thing, but we see to have obtained the necessary level of legibility, at least for people who’ve seen the word “Tuesday” before and might recognize it even with a little mortar interference.

 

 

Finally, of course, there’s the mural, which was started first and somehow finished last. Pastoral-geometric landscape with rooster and mystery shapes and underground carrot view? Sure!

 

To close, here’s another shot of the irresistible interior of the restaurant to entice you further to go there for some French-inspired, sustainable, modern American eats (and drinks)…

 

 

Interior photos are by Maggie Battista of Eat Boutique.


Upcoming, across the pond

16 Aug

This fall I will be sending several large, new works on a voyage across the sea. A high-flying journey these giant, unwieldy pieces of wood perhaps never expected to make.

I’ll be showing work (3-5 pieces, we’ll see what gets done) in a group show at Stolenspace Gallery, called Wild Life. For this show the gallery, which I’ve admittedly not visited yet, will be moving into a larger space called Shop 14, allowing for larger installations, more works, and what promises to be an all-around mighty show. From the somewhat poetic mission statement for the show:

“…But our wild life, this wildlife is playing a slow game, a slow deathly dance between the static, lifeless concrete structures we’ve built and the unstoppable force of nature. Adapt or be adapted, adjust or be adjusted, remember me? I was here before you, I’ve always been here, you need me, I am life.”

Visit the gallery site to see the press release for the show.

I’ll post the new work here as it’s finished. Which had better happen kinda soon, yes?

 

Return

16 Aug

Since I blogged last I did this:


 

…which makes it hard to know what to say next.

I’m back, however, working and moving into a new studio, and the words and images will, indeed, be coming here soon.