Playing In The Ruins Indeed

“If you do not trod on others and you help see that others are not trod upon – you’re doing well. If you actually live that way you’re doing better than many Christians. But you are a child playing in the ruins of a great civilization and many of your ideas (like not treading on others) are the legacy, an echo of that civilization. You have an instinct for kindness, but that very instinct is a legacy of a Judaeo-Christian ethic. I’m glad it’s working for you. Your children and grandchildren will not be so fortunate, as the legacy begins to wane. There is already a quiet and tolerated holocaust going on around us, but, hey, we all die.
 
No civilization has existed without transcendence. Even Carl Sagan was looking for extraterrestrial substitutes for the transcendent before he died. Hitler had his racial theories that served as his transcendent. Stalin claimed to be following Marxist theories of history. Our grandchildren will find something if it’s not God. Their “gods” may not be so kind – time will tell. By then you’ll be dead so it won’t actually matter.
 
For myself, I believe that meaning is dependent on something outside itself – something that transcends it. Those who do not think this are treading on the safety of my children and my children’s children. Their self-referential cultures have murdered nearly 100 million in the 20th century. So, no thank you, I do not agree to stop suggesting that the lack of transcendence is meaningless and that meaninglessness results ultimately in mass murder. Seen it all before. No thank you.”
 
comment by Fr. Stephen Freeman, 5/31/12 RE: blog post “What is Man,” from blog Glory to God For All Things

For the Loving Rememberance of a Mentor: Rip Woods

studio corder

Was thankfully able to visit briefly an 80th birthday celebration for the late Rip Woods given by Dee Dee, his family and friends last Saturday at 934 on Southern Avenue in Phoenix.

Rip was a beloved mentor, to whom I offer two Quotes from Eric Gill:

“The training of artists, therefore, is twofold. First, there is the training of the living. The child brought up in a dark cellar or in an art school will know nothing of humane life. Art training is first of all the training obtained by living the ordinary life of the time. Thus the mind is nourished on reality and not romance.”

“….A fool may be a Saint.
A villain may be an artist.
A fool may be an villain.
But a fool cannot be an artist, nor a villain a Saint.”

Dear Rip, mentor and friend – Moriendo Modulor.

Drive-Bye

YellowThis 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. . . .

Beading

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
Arizona Motels