Saturday, October 31, 2009


“Shroud No.2”, Oct. 2009
acrylic and cut corrugated cardboard, 16 x 20”

Shroud”, Oct. 2009
acrylic and cut corrugated cardboard, 16 x 20”

My boss looked at me quizzically as I inspected the shredded cardboard packing material from a box of new inventory, “What… what is it?” she asked. “I think I want to paint on this.” I replied. It stretched out when I pulled at either side of the section I’d plucked from the box, and I was playing with it! I’m certain she thought I was nuts as I tugged at the material, examining it’s qualities, imagining it’s possibilities.

The shredded cardboard lay in a pile on my work table for some time, as I continued to scrutinize it- then in a hurry one night I started cutting and arranging it atop a piece of cardboard being carved simultaneously, the patterns carved so that the shredded cardboard to be hot glued above revealing some of what was below. That layered, partially covered nature in my assemblage gave me the title “Shroud”, the word by definition: a cloth or sheet in which a corpse is wrapped for burial. I have seen some death this year, certainly- the older I get, the more I see it seems. Just today my pal Rudy called from New Mexico with news that his brother Bob had passed, my grandmother passed last winter, and my pal Kevin died three years ago, yesterday, as well. People die and we miss them because humans are fragile, divine, and special.

While the finished pieces are black and somewhat menacing, I hadn’t thought of this much while I played with my newfound material, I played like a child who just discovered something unusual and fun! I know they will be largely unappreciated and likely unsaleable, but for me they are a real breakthrough: completely non-objective art focused on materials and texture, a purity I have struggled to achieve since I saw the Action/Abstraction Show at the St. Louis Art Museum a year ago has been achieved in my mind. I have an acquaintance or two-dozen that feel like abstract art is baloney, but it’s much more complicated to create, explain, argue, appreciate, and evaluate than most people have the intellect or imagination to entertain. There is a lot that of abstract work that is poorly done, and there is a great deal that is sublime and transcendent: sorting Fine Art from the Emperor’s New Clothes is a confounding, and sometimes convoluted business. Some have the Magic Touch, and others just don’t, although as my brother says, “There is no accounting for taste".

The shredded inspiration in question...

Snikety Snik, Sucka! I’ll CUT YA!

A handmade bamboo tool I fashioned back in ceramics class at the University works GREAT for detailing my cut cardboard paintings... those tools are the most valuable, crafted for a particular task. This "little friend" came in handy later on in my art making!

Laying out “Shroud No.2” prior to hot gluing...

Painting “Shroud”, stapled down to my workboard:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Poetry Scores Invitational 2009- "600 Glittering and Genteel Towns"

"600 Glittering and Genteel Towns" 2009
8 x 16" each, mixed media on canvas

I will be participating in the 2009 Poetry Scores Art Invitational on Friday, Nov. 13 at The Luminary Arts Center, 4900 Reber Place at South Kingshighway- right across from Tower Grove Park. Poetry Scores is a local arts organization that translates poetry into other media, their main medium is the poetry score- a long poem set to music as one scores a film. At the CD release party for the finished score, an art auction will take place, contributing artists having made work that both responds to the poem and is titled after a verbatim quote from the poem. This year’s Invitational is devoted to the poem “The Sydney Highrise Variations” by the Australian poet Les Murray.

I was honored to be asked to be invited by Chris King, editorial director of the award-winning St. Louis American, Confluence City blogger, and hard-working Poetry Scores board member. While I am no poet, I regularly lift bits of song lyrics/titles as inspiration for my work, so I am notably qualified. After studying Les Murray’s poem closely for a couple months in preparation for my finished artwork, I settled on my vision for the line "600 Glittering and Genteel Towns", Murray's lament for Sydney's ambition to rival urban America's own seemingly neverending upward vigor in pursuit of modernity- an aspiration that ignored the regional individuality already present in the townships and burbs inland.

I was inspired by several birdseye views plucked from the internet of the sprawl North and East of the city, including the Parramatta River valley leading to Harbour Bridge. Views of these valleys and riverways were the groundwork for my initial drawings on the canvases, leading to the shaped, finished mixed media pieces. Yes, that IS glitter shimmering over my paintings- "600 Glittering and Genteel Towns", get it? Sorry I couldn't resist; I might end up the Andy Warhol of this little invitational, but at least I didn't piss on them or use diamond dust, so...
The bidding will start at $50.00 per canvas, and if you find another painting you like by another participant in this incredible roster of St. Louis artists you like better, by all means grab it- you might not get another chance to get work by these folks for such a low price point.