Sunday, July 6, 2014

Detroit


I am not sure if I will have a chance to live in Detroit. However, it is a city I dreamed about as young person, visited as an adult, and have identified with. I am currently working on some art related to my sentiments and experiences.

Below are some notes and some words I hope to use:

Street Names:
1. Woodward Ave.
2. Gratiot Ave.
3. Grand River Ave.
4. Jefferson Ave.
5. State Fair Ave.
6. 8 Mile Rd.

Among many other roads and paths, an impression is left. Cathedrals fall, but the light is still pure. Diamond reflecting a diamond. It is up to us to see our heart and give fruit to all our little actions. Pick up a scrap. Say hello. Offer a smile. Set a root in the ground.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hand Some

I pulled out some prints I use for collage, and in the pile I found something something reflective. The hands seem like brain matter. Literally a handful, I wondered if thoughts were being shaped and ideas formed like sculpture. My present mind feels muddled between the call of the birds outside, the desire to learn spanish, and practical concerns to reach out to others. I hope these hands of the mind settle and find the substance they are grasping for.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Green Machine and Productivity

Recently, I have been thinking about blog posts that gain a large readership. Posting about art tends to have a select audience that seek specialized information or news. Posts that stir intrigue or argument (e.g. politics or celebrity news) attract wider attention but people also come to a blog seeking advice or help. These posts tap into our aspirations to fix things (e.g. make a better meal, become more organized, live a healthier life).

One aspect of life I would like to fix is my relationship to productivity. No matter how productive I am, I sense that there is more that could be done. To perpetually feel less then fully productive may not be reasonable perspective, but perhaps it is natural. There has to be an impulse which propels us and challenges us. However, there seems to be an irony in thinking that we can become masters of productivity. What is thought of as productive may not be very important and what seems unproductive may have its own unique purpose.

As I was out on a walk, pondering ways I could become a more productive blogger, I came upon an abandoned lawn mower. I could not figure why the wheels were missing, but it reminded me of a car vandalized up on blocks. I began to think about the ways this broken mower could be productive. Though my first thought was of scrap metal, I realized this mechanical decay revealed potential as a subject. Although its color matched the grass, the broken machine offered a counterpoint. Like many of mankind's other pursuits, we cannot hope to keep up with trimming every blade of grass. So, a healthier outlook on productivity may be to realize our best options (usually not grand) and negate, subdue, or ignore that which is most disruptive to our growth. This outlook is useful because road blocks will be put in our way, and sometimes things come apart.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pen of the Month - Part 2

Shortly after my last post, new pens arrived at work. I quickly rounded up two test sheets (small pieces of paper where customers try out pens). The new pens consist of at least eight different color ballpoint pens. The ink appears more saturated than the pens from last month and these new results were striking. Given my attraction to color and mark making, I began to wonder about the meaning of these seemingly random drawings. Although they did not start out with much of a plan, they did begin to take a direction. The lose structure mixed with a sense of chance seemed to me linked to a strain art that follows modernist exploits (material exploration and directness trumping most other objectives). This kind of approach often has a richness and vitality.

Even now Mark Rothko's big blocks of color, Pollock's drips, Frankenthaler's stains, or de Kooning's brush seem liberating. However these artists seem unique and forever locked in time. In today's data driven world, where digital screens offer glimpses at every scribble (including my own), and schools prepare gallery ready artists, I often wonder if this kind of direction is enough hinge one's artistic identity? Are the variables too minimal? Is it heroic to cast aside illustrative qualities in favor of pure expression of form or is that expression merely more marks made by a mortal hand? Surely there is a place for all kinds of art because it grasps for our best instincts, desires, and hopes. However, how much is too much? If the loop of productivity returns to the same places how many times do we watch?. There is no question that art of great merit is being made, but in my more cynical moments I wonder how will we recognize it? Will it be great, great scribble, or just more scribble? Lets hope for the best.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pen of the Month

Currently, I am working in an office supply store. Each month a brand of pen is featured at the register and are sold individually. This is a good way to observe pen testing habits. Under less scrutiny, in other parts of the store, test drawings at times include anatomical studies and the kind of writing reserved for bathroom stalls. People behave much differently when they feel they are being watched. At the register customers are mostly determining if the pen works well. My hunch is that writing and highlighting are effective uses for these pens. Other uses exhibit marginal quality (e.g. lack of: permanence, line variety, etc.), whereas for drawing, decoration, and other activities art supplies would likely be a better solution. I did my own testing to gain a better understanding.

Among other scribbles, my trials included drawing a face on one of the scratch papers. Hoping customers would "improve" my drawing, I waited for others to add content. However, a curious thing happened, people no longer wanted to use that test sheet and would skip to the next page. My thought is that either people are uncomfortable with the idea of defiling a human/animal form (particularly when they might get caught), or they often want their mark to be both unique and anonymous. Generally, drawing in public seems to dramatically change habits. I wonder how knowledge of this inhibition would yet further change one's drawing sensibility?


Friday, April 25, 2014

Keep Posting


Although my hobby of collecting postage stamps has waned in the last two years, I still find stamps that are stirring. More often than not, I am moved by the interaction between the cancelation and the image. A successful transformation requires adding qualities in a way that penetrates the space between calculated presentation and the moments where anything can happen (i.e. the act of cancelation). Here the sum can feel greater than the parts and something new is offered. The occurrence of particular cancelations can seem like miracles. When I started to collage stamps into my artwork, I began to receive gifts. One such gift was a recycled "Miracle Whip" jar (another miracle) that contained stamps. This is where I currently put recently found stamps and where the examples above reside. Whether or not the indelible gift of the jar and stamps were coincidental or preordained seems equally plausible. However, what seems more important is that wonder can lead to miracles. The size of the miracle seems less important.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Falling Down And A Pick Me Up

It is amazing how long it can take a tree of this size to grow and how fast it can fall. It seems like nature has a strange way of distributing work. A strong wind can negate years of nurture from the sun and earth. Although this neighborhood monument has toppled, I was also thinking of other structures that tower. For months a little pencil drawing sat dormant on the back of an old business card. This week I added ink and it became a steeple surrounded by symbols. With a mix of chance and care, this steeple grew upward much like a tree but faster. Drawing in this unreserved way (i.e. finding out what a doodle can become) served as a reminder to be open and stretch. By grasping, whether it be a small challenge or for the stars, we learn how far we can reach. If we fall over trying, at least we were not afraid of the winds or self doubt.