I hadn’t gotten on a CTA bus or train from the middle of March to the beginning of July. Being stuck inside a public vehicle didn’t seem like a good idea. Fortunately, I do most work at home alone. I can walk or ride a bike almost anywhere I need to go.
I got used to the new routine easily, though I became a lot more aware of the weather. Biking in a deluge or merciless heat is no picnic. Overall though, it was as if motorized vehicles were no longer part of my reality. But I have a stack of framed drawings which prove that riding buses and trains used to be a big part of my life.
The sixty or seventy marker drawings I did on the CTA a couple years ago have since become a block of pictures which I think of sometimes as a starting point for something. Using markers for the first time since I was a kid has changed the way I paint, but those drawings themselves also hint at other possibilities.
Like cab drawings and music sketches, the CTA pictures seem to want to be a book. So I made this first attempt at it. Drawings and very short stories. It’s a zine in an edition of fourteen. It was supposed to be twenty but I fucked up some pages; getting my brain to keep page sequences consistent is a challenge.
—Marc Orleans took his own life over a month ago but I only found out a couple days ago. Marc was a few years ahead of me in art school. He was always covered in paint and looked perpetually on the verge of meltdown. With his big nose and red hair he bore a resemblance to the most famous tormented painter of all. A few of us called him Van Gogh behind his back. I ran into him in Boston a few years later. He’d quit painting after what he said was a nervous breakdown. He was now concentrating on music. He’d go on to play across many genres and to collaborate with many, many great players. Yet every time I ran into him he’d get an apologetic look, as if I reminded him of his failure to stick with art.
After I found out about his death I went into a rabbithole of online tributes. I was happy to read how appreciated and admired he was, no matter what he thought of himself. For some of us it’s not so easy to live with ourselves. He hung on as long as he could. From what I read in his loved ones’ accounts the isolation of the current plague must have gotten to him.
We weren’t close but I always thought of Marc as a peer to look up to in his utter commitment to his art. I’ll miss wondering what he’s obsessed with from moment to moment.