At the bar, I’m looking at a just-installed show of collaborative paintings, wondering aloud to a friend how it can even be possible to let anyone else anywhere near your own canvas. It’s never ever occurred to me to do that. Within that rectangle no one’s hand but mine has ever been allowed so much as a scribble, but up on the walls here are yards and yards clearly worked on in tandem. It’s baffling.
There’s a long tradition in Western painting of art studios run by a master with a bunch of assistants. Sometimes these assistants do all but sign the master’s name but it’s understood that they are carrying out another’s orders and wishes rather than expressing anything of their own. That’s not what I’m looking at in the bar. Here, two artists take turns or build off one another, mark to mark. Like a conversation or simultaneous singing. They must know one another so well to trust each other this way.
I’m sort of doing that too but with earlier versions of myself. Marking up and reconfiguring things I made ten, twenty, thirty-plus years back. I rarely recognize it as anything to do with me, this old shit. But now and then a mark or a word will open up a trapdoor and I’ll fall in for an hour, sometimes a whole day.
It’s that way living in this town too. So many streets are full of landmines and gravestones. I have to swerve around them to avoid getting blown up or worse. It’s probably inevitable if you keep living. Maybe that’s why people like to travel out of town. To get away from the recurring memories.
I don’t really want to escape. I wallow in it. Some days I can see past it, other days, it weighs me down. I’ve been listening to Paul Simon’s new Seven Psalms on repeat. It’s about coming to terms or acceptance with his fast-approaching end. I hope when my time comes, I can face it with half as much grace.
My pieces are going up next at the bar. I’m happy the stuff up now is good. It’s not the same as mine but there are connections. A mixed-media collage thing. A sort of graffiti/defacement aspect. I wrote a review for the Reader that should go live sometime this week.
I made a stencil and have been cranking out postcards. I’ll mail some out soon. Maybe you’ll get one. Don’t let the death/destruction talk worry you. I’m in as good a place as I’ve been in awhile. The work is coming together and that’s all that matters to me.
The rest is just icing on the cake and I should be cutting down on desserts…
Looking forward to my show at Firecat.