LIFE OF SPECTRAL MYSTERY.
Updated: Apr 5
I'll be showing a few new pieces this April at La Matadora Gallery in Joshua Tree!
(April 8 to May 7, with an Artist Talk May 7!)
This show is something I've been anticipating for a while-
When Wendy Gadzuk reached out to me a few months ago to be part of the show "The Language of Ghosts" I immediately knew I needed to make some amazing new work for the occasion. I had been busy for the entirety of this unusually cold and stormy winter, shut in my trailer working on developing a new online print shop, designing a Ten Year Anniversary art book for my collectors, and designing a line of wearable art...! I was so close to being ready to launch the new shop, but I knew I needed to put it all on hold if I wanted to create something new for the show.
I gathered my materials, made my art panels, and I was ready to go-
Then - SURPRISE!
We got a foot of snow!
The snow set me back a few days- not to mention the cold (my studio is insulated, but not temperature controlled!) so I waited a little longer to get started on the new artwork...
The snow melted, the temperatures improved, and then I had a visitor- a wonderful recent college graduate who had just the same art professor as I did, back in 2009.
It was so refreshing to get to know this young woman, full of spunk and devotion, on the cusp of uncertainty. It reminded me of how I felt during that time, and how I felt for almost the entirety of my college experience- yes, on the cusp of uncertainty- but more than that.
I recalled the feeling of a lack of control, but yet, some sort of temperance within it. I had gotten out of an awful marriage (divorced at 21!) and was grappling with not only the trauma that I'd been through there, but also the added confusion of the onset of what I now know to be bipolar disorder. Everything felt chaotic, unsettled, like the rug of reality had been ripped from underneath me. And at the same time, as an Evangelical Christian at the time, I felt protected and guided by god. As I was making art, that teetering quality showed up- That kind of creativity was something so unusual and special. In creating, and even in walking the earth, I felt like I was simply an instrument of god.
The things I made back then were often very loose, impulsive, free, messy... born from an intuitive connection to the heavenly realms that I imagined were fighting all kinds of battles within me and without me. It wasn't all groundbreakingly wonderful, but a lot of it was really good.
More than that, I just liked the feeling I got when I created it.
I allowed myself to express quickly- just as quickly as the worlds inside and outside me were changing. Something about it was primitive and Perfect. I wanted to do more of that, now.
in 2022, I had spent 6 grueling months working on a glorious Jackrabbit who I called "The Prince of Primal Peace" that, even when showing at HWY 62 Art Tours, I still felt was unfinished. And as I'd begun working on some of the new artwork for this show, I found myself trying to work with the same precision and laser focus that I had been- for the past ten years. And I didn't like it.
I love my older works, from the bottom of my heart- but I wasn't in love with the process. So I had to change it.
The following is my artist statement for the La Matadora show, I'm just going to paste it into this post- because I feel like it's a fair description of what catharsis happened, and why I'm suddenly making art that looks quite different.... yet again!
WHAT I'M ALL ABOUT.
"My saints, deities, angels, and entities are visual representations of the ephemeral. Each moment of direct experience is packed with incredible flavor, subtlety, and magic. This dynamism of life- that each moment is devoured by what comes next, before it can be fully experienced- is the reason I create art. Pulling inspiration from dreams, realizations, and my spiritual perspective, I create scenes that translate the essence of a fleeting moment into something that eyes and minds can linger on. Still, these images I create are mysterious, symbolic, dream-like… Much like reality itself, these images contain elements of knock-you-upside-the-head specificity while also containing paradox and mystery. My artwork is about life, death, rebirth, transformation, loss, beauty, pain, confusion, transcendence… and the miracle that all those flavors of experience can be present in a single moment.
The collection of works showing here were created over a span of several years. Though they vary greatly in technique, styling, and process, they are all idealistic, reverential odes to the way I see the world. My older works here are tighter, coming from a desire to bring forth a vision into vivid specificity- like the feeling of being lucid in a dream. The newer works are loose, textured, almost sculptural- and coming from an embrace of intuition, looseness, imperfection- like the sensation of recalling a dream.
In approaching this showing, I knew I wanted do something different- to create in a different way than I have been for the past ten years. For ten years my process was meticulous. Building precise compositions digitally, using photographs I took of specific places and things that I loved, and of people I chose (often friends, models, and myself), then blowing them up into large scale, hand cut collages - or, for a period of time, painting those compositions. It was labor intensive, but it felt easy. I had my process down to a science, and the only moments of uncertainty were in the digital development phase- when I would become unsure about a color choice here or there, or how to handle the background- or, later in the process, possibly how to glue down a very large shape. It was easy because I knew exactly what the end result would look like from day 1.
But recently, something felt wrong about continuing to work this way. During the course of making this new artwork, I switched process many times- starting a piece, realizing I hated it, ripping pieces off of it to use on a different sort of piece, laboring for days on it only to realize I hated that one, too- eventually I realized that something frightening was required of me- to finally completely let go of my need for certainty. Strangely, this is relatively easy for me in other aspects of my experience- but “fuck it” in regards to my artwork was a completely frightening idea. After recalling that certainty was never how I approached making artwork when I was younger, and after recalling that I allowed the spirit to move me effortlessly at that time, I somehow pushed myself back into a state of intuitive visionary flow and cranked out three new pieces- three very unusual, loose, spirited pieces that you see here.
These new pieces - “Portal to Juniper Ridge”, “Sky God”, and “Spectral Crossing” were inspired in part by a recurring lucid dream and born from an adventure into intuitive release."
And there you have it.
Each of these pieces took me approximately 12 hours.
That's not 6 months, that's for sure- and it also isn't two weeks, like many of my large-scale collages took. And it's not an afternoon, like some of the works I made in college took.
But the approach to these was much more free.
I simply made a silly sketch on notebook paper, held it up to the canvas, did a two second pencil sketch of where elements would lie, and went for it.
And what I found in this process was... there's something interesting about approaching a blank canvas, with no idea what the outcome will be- without choosing a color palate ahead of time, without neatly drawing in the details, in a perfect moment when fear drops away but audacity or grandiosity isn't pushing to the fore. Magic can happen. A sort of strange, channeled-from-the-gods magic. Yes, it's that feeling I had in college, that I was just simply an instrument of god. Translating something I'd never seen onto the canvas in real time.
These are canvas, acrylic paint, and joint compound, with a sprinkle of the spirits of the great beyond. And I LOVED working this way.
So, what's next?
Though they may look very different, I'm telling myself that that's good. I wouldn't be an expectedly fluid human-soul-hybrid if I were so incapable of change that I never even questioned my process. And I wouldn't be a very good artist, either. (I'm still not sure that I am!). With that in mind, I think I'll continue to do more work in this way, and I think I'll go even bigger. And with even more texture.
Ultimately we never really know what's next- as the spirit moves me, I will proceed.
ONE thing that IS coming next, is that re-opened print shop that I mentioned.
As soon as I feel like sitting on a computer again, it will all come together.
But right now I fancy a hike.
You should try hiking. Without earbuds, without a goal.
It's really good for your mental health.
May You Be Ever Lucid,