Monday I get a late start. I bartended the night before so I try to sleep in. The forecast promises high 80s so I’m dreading the 13 mile bike ride. I get to Buena Vista around 2pm, pouring sweat, and sit and stare at the blank wall about half an hour.
The idea to fill a gallery with art made on the premises in three weeks was mine. John only asked for the show to be something I hadn’t done before; a challenge or left turn. I’d brought a pile of ephemera, two French easels, paint, markers, charcoal, multi-colored tape, and reams of paper in a Zipcar a couple days before. I didn’t really know what I was going to make and I don’t now, staring at the wall, the sweat slowly ebbing.
I tape an old portrait near the window, then something next to it, then another thing. It’s all intuitive, no precise method or logic. The elements I work with already have a relationship either through biography or aesthetic association so it’s not random. I’m trying bash things into one another to create a spark.
Within a couple hours of fumbling about a third of the wall has something on it. Then I sit back looking. Try to assess what I’m doing.
The counterpoint to the collage wall will be a series of quick paintings and drawings of the neighborhood and the interior of the art space.
I make the first—a charcoal—looking north from the doorway. A neighbor comes up and watches me draw a few minutes, then tells me the elderly woman who’s spent the past several hours sitting in her walker under the shade of a tree down the block wants me to draw her now.
The challenge of this thing is how little time I’ve spent in this neighborhood. Most of my work comes after months and years of soaking in place. This is a kind of Cliff’s Notes/crash course thing but who doesn’t like a challenge?
After four days of roundtrip rides and steady accumulation of work, I’m ready for a breather. I take Friday off. But that’s mostly because the first batch of books is ready at the printer and I have to see how they turned out.
I’ll resume the routine again Monday. Maybe by the end of the three weeks I’ll begin to know a little about the place and what I’m doing there.
Got signed-and-numbered copies of the new book on hand.