Giving much thought to themes or processes in my work

There are two kinds of artists: ones that see with their eyes and ones that see with their minds.

I realized tonight that there are two very strong themes in my work. And somehow, surely not by coincidence they’re very, very close in definition.

  1. identity
  2. integrity

there are a couple others, too, but that’s for another time. I’m very interested in the integrity of things: in an effort to communicate with other people I feel that it’s important to not try to cover things up; or make lies for things, especially when it comes to art.

I’ve been feeling a little listless with painting for maybe the last 8 months or so. Part of me enjoys it and the other finds it kind like a backwards mentality of plastic bullshit.

When I see a painting of a thing – it doesn’t really matter what that thing is. As long as it was *intended* to *be* a thing, easily recognizable and created for only the sake of the thing it is representing, I feel kind of shafted. Like, there was no other way to communicate this item than through the use of a farce to convince (or at least suppose) me of an experience with an image of something.

In a “retinal” artwork we have two lies combining into one big, horrid atrocity. We have the image itself – the first lie. and we have the use of materials to convey it – the second lie. How nobody is offended by it is beyond me.

In fact, quite the opposite occurs. That’s how people like Kinkaide sign contracts with Glade air freshener. But it doesn’t matter what the medium: It can be a painting, a sculpture, a bad poem. It’s anything that tries to persuade one from truth.

Radical art movements are made as reactions to lies. We all beg for truth.

I recently watched a video where Don Boyd was giving an informal lecture on Fluxus and he brought up the idea that Fluxus and DaDa weren’t regional movements. This is completely obvious. And in its obviousness it’s completely self-intentional and self-referential. And that is so perfectly Fluxus; so sweetly DaDa.

French Impressionism. German Expressionism. Barbazon School. Bauhaus. New York School.
Regional. Grouped. Categorized. Canonized. Colonized. Instituted. Rhetorted (sic).

I guess the thing about this that I found interesting was that, even though I knew that DaDa and Fluxus were not regional, I hadn’t considered with any real thought the fact that most other movements *are.*

Partially unrelated, I recently saw a video of chicken hatchlings in a factory. There were hundreds of thousands of little, yellow fuzzy baby chickens. From the camera angle above, the factory looked a lot like a mustard field in a windstorm.

The camera fashioned in on some of the sterilized workers: white plastic gloves, paper breath masks and light blue hospital scrubbed people picked and tossed the hatchlings along an interstate of conveyor belts. The first belt separated the hatchling from the egg. It was sort of like a water turbine. The narrator explained that the gap between the rollers was small enough for the hatchling, but too small for the eggshell to fall in. Under the turning metal rods, was a small chute that landed the baby chicks to another section where the workers would separate them into chutes demanding only females or males. These chutes then poured baby chicks like popcorn into boxes of 50 destined for slaughterhouses or farms for eggs.

And as artists, how different are we consumed? It’s like there’s a big conveyor belt that everyone wants to get on. And what for? To be be packaged into a box of 50 near-identicals and sold as some other product?

For me, DaDa and Fluxus are not baby hatchlings. And like all souls, are not dead. It is just without a name; without a category and without an identity.

Over the last few years I started to notice that many of the artists I have known are far more concerned with being consistent with the assumed “identity” of “artist” than they were about making art that mattered. Myself included.

I’m in a period where I’m very interested in the integrity of my materials. I like using common, accessible materials and I’m not aiming to hide anything. In that, the viewer may find his or her own associations. I can remove *my identity* as an artist away from the picture. It is not my intention for the work to be about me even if it seems like it.

For a long time I did self-portraits and that would seem very much like the communication was intended to be about *me,* and for a long time I would intend to make them focusing more on the paint than the image, but by the end I would always cave into the image. It became very annoying and disheartening. In the same way that men are often slaves to the cock, so too am I often a slave to aesthetics.

It’s not that I hate beauty, or that aesthetics are bad or troublesome, because there is beauty everywhere, always. It’s just that for me, beauty is the byproduct, not the aim. All my work is beautiful because I make it so.

Even Eva couldn’t get away from it. Nor could Kiki (no matter how hard she tried); not Bacon, not Ginsberg, not punk rock – nothing, no matter how hard it fights can win over beauty because *I* determine it. I determine it as a participant of this experience.

My cat died recently. About 4 days after he died, I was cleaning up in the studio. I picked up a bag of small, plastic blue toy policemen and noticed that my cat – just before his death – had pissed all over them. It was dry by then, and it wasn’t very much which is why I didn’t notice before. Normally I would have been furious, but this time I was actually happy, because for a moment, it felt like he was right there with me: It was a gift, and I took it as so.

It was true. It was honest. It just was. And is. Always.

This level of truth is what I aim for in my work.

There are two kinds of artists: ones that see with their eyes and ones that see with their minds.

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