This is my first blog attempt after a handful of unfortunate events partnered up; Cox dropped my webpage, my hard drive and auxiliary hard drive crashed, plus a few assorted non-technical events. Putting something back together from the pieces has been strange in unexpected ways…
In the process of tracking down an article date to verify it, I ran across an auction site that had an older work up for bidding – one that I hadn’t documented. A lot of time has gone by since then. Was kinda shocking to sit back, and remember making this thing, this moment, this place to stop, to put things together for a while.
Why make art about/from old Arizona motels?
Honestly, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. This isn’t nostalgia, wanderlust, or escapism. It’s a mystery to me. The colors, the shapes, the history, the surrounding Arizona environment,the cheerful tackiness of it all, even the decay – especially the decay, have captured my attention for well over twenty years. And it’s not just any classic period motel that will do – it is the Arizona ones that got caught in my eye.
This aesthetic exploration took an unexpected direction in the late 1990’s with the inclusion of beadwork, hammered copper and or recycled aluminum. The larger exclusively beaded works usually require a minimum of six months to bead.
Part of the humor or irony in this latter development dwells in the concept of time. The “classic period” motels themselves were designed for short stays, and are rapidly disappearing. As cultural artifacts, not destined to survive very long. Yet they have inspired this contemplative and vastly time-consuming beadwork; which is then viewed by a contemporary audience with an attention-span that is measured in seconds. . . .
Prior to the incorporation of beadwork, the paintings were typically a minimum of 48” x 60” in size. Here, the Arizona motels became darkly magical and threatening places within the Sonoran Desert environment. Cacti, desert creatures, rocks and that harsh desert light populated a colorful motel world. The motels themselves provide much of the color palette; every element in each work was exploited for it’s metaphoric potential. Each one was a multi-layered look at contemporary Arizona weaving together local natural history and sharp observation, through the lens of imaginative interpretation. If you’re looking for labels to describe my work, it has been christened “figurative expressionist with surrealist leanings and an abstractionist bent.”
Given the connotations of the word “large” today, I hesitate to use it; the current works are so much smaller than these earlier paintings that it’s necessary to use “large” as a comparative term when referring to the body of work as a whole. Originally an oil-on-canvas painter, chemical sensitivities forced a switch to acrylics. Technically, the move made me a better painter, but lacks the pleasant aroma of the turp can, and lush textural feel. Had to eliminate the solvents from printmaking processes also. I love working with my hands, and am trying not to poison myself or the ground with chemicals.
Check out the ‘Joe Doe’ page for kind of an explanation about the motels.
Please forgive the clunkiness here in my little parlor; am not technically savvy. Am just an artist trying to clear the darkness out of my eyes in order to pay attention and learn something about this strange and wonderful place, this gift of place, and time, and love.
Oh, and BTW, here’s a nice article on classic Van Buren in Phoenix