hook, line, and sinker
“Hook, Line and Sinker” 2010 Acrylic, Unstretched 72 x 107
This acrylic painting on unstretched canvas is comprised of two pieces of 54 x 72 canvas abutted in an overall dimension of approximately 6’x9’.
This whimsical, flight of the imagination offers a fantastical underwater scene at an ocean bed psychic reader’s shop and tea room. Visible through the beaded curtain is the adjoining living quarters. The psychic has a “live one” in the gullible customer who is taking the bait of the conjured tale she dangles before his gaping eyes. Evident in the crystal ball is the psychic’s real perception of her client as a clownish fool.
Some of the creatures depicted are composite part human/part animal beings further bending the logic of this incredible world. The open book alludes to the narrative structure, the beginning of the tale (i.e. “boar walks into an underwater psychic’s shop…”). The narrator’s wife incessantly yammers on, spinning the never-ending storyline, “Anyhoo….”
“Mo’” 2011 Acrylic, Unstretched 75 x 54
I was leaving my mechanic’s shop in North Hollywood when I saw a woman on a moped- like vehicle paying a man (mechanic? worker?) from an impossibly small purse that was perched on her sternum. It struck me as a comical.
“Laundromat” 2012 Acrylic, Unstretched 73 x 108
“Laundromat” is comprised of two pieces of 72 x 54 unstretched canvas resulting in an overall dimension of 73” x 108” (approximately 6 feet x 9 feet). The faces are self-portraits.
The setting is based on images shot in a local Laundromat in El Sereno. I have tipped the shapes and emphasized the peeling linoleum to heighten the decrepitude and neglect, hearkening to the sad state of the current economic/social structure.
“Kiddie Pool” 2013 Acrylic, Unstretched 73 x 106
“Kiddie Pool” is comprised of two pieces of 72 x 54 unstretched canvas resulting in an overall dimension of 73” x 106” (approximately 6 feet x 9 feet). The faces are self-portraits. As always, I play all the characters’roles in my work.
This piece was inspired by a scene I saw while walking through my neighborhood of El Sereno on the eastside of Los Angeles. Some children were playing and laughing in a kiddie pool that was situated almost right on the sidewalk, as their front yard was very small. They seemed oblivious to their situation of poverty, as they fully enjoyed themselves, unselfconscious despite their lack of privacy or space. Either they were not yet cognizant of their rung in the social hierarchy or they were able to not let that lack infiltrate their being in the moment.
The woman with one shoe is older and still in the situation of poverty. But now the poverty has stuck on her, and this lack dominates her life. The blanket she clutches is included to suggest the security blanket we associate with childhood. I am proposing that she too is still a child, as we all are, but that the years of poverty have clung to her and have taken their toll.
Basically, the piece is about old poverty and new poverty and the erosive effect that poverty has on the human consciousness.
“Fountain” 2014 Acrylic, Unstretched 74 x 54
“Fountain” was inspired by a little girl I saw enjoying the fountain while I was seated at an outdoor café near Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I was struck by the recollection of how thoroughly we enjoy being alive, being in the moment, when we are very new to the experience of life. The figure with the briefcase represents adulthood, when we are striving to “make it”, to maneuver successfully through the society. I am trying to suggest the extreme level of “high-alert” (fear, adrenaline) state of mind during this phase of life, which is so stressful and draining to our life force. The older, seated figure indicates that society makes beggars out of the majority of the population. Tired and exhausted from years of stress and often the resultant stress disorder, trying to make it all work out and add up, worrying all the time that despite the axiom of hard-work and trying one’s best as being a formula for success, that one will fall short nonetheless. How/who does society reward?
“Carousel” 2012 Acrylic, Unstretched 74 x 54
The ordered, routine circuit of the carousel has been disrupted. Chaotic, violent upheaval serves as a metaphor for the current national and global economic/political foment.
The horses are in varied states of metamorphosis, inanimate mannequins becoming alive, veering into abstraction. The subject matter, as well as the emotive and subjective use of color dialog most closely with historical Fauvist Franz Marc of Der Blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) Group.
“Rush” 2009 Acrylic, Unstretched 72 x 106
“Rush” is comprised of two pieces of 72 x 54 unstretched canvas resulting in an overall dimension of 72 x 106 (approximately 6 feet x 9 feet). The left side of the piece conveys the rush of life crowded with people, the pushing, the forward-driving impulse of living.
This striving is suggested in the faces. Some reflect the anger and frustration in the face of the daunting struggle to attain status/meaning/a place in the world. Some, with eye-on-the-prize, pin-pointed focus get nearer it seems, and yet we see faces revealing to various degrees a dawning realization that one will likely fall short of these aims. Faltering with waning strength, dreams slip through fingers, just out of reach.
The rush of water signals a profound break in the noisy clamoring of life. The right section of the piece indicates a quiet, immense space. The upside-down tree’s roots grow into the nighttime cosmos, its leafed branches underground. Is this the space after life, the underworld, the “then”? The bared figure in the placid bath/casket/cocoon, is she asleep, meditating or dead? The white foal looks back at her before moving toward the mysterious headlights in the sky. Is he her animal spirit or does it represent an elegy to youth? Undeterred, the rush goes on.
“slick” 2010 Acrylic, Unstretched 72 x 107
I felt compelled to address the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The large figure was originally intended to represent my feelings of anger, frustration and revulsion with the incessant pollutants bleeding into the ocean ecosystem. Paradoxically, I found he also suggests man’s befoulment of the seas. The gourmand who is slurpily savoring bonbons was originally intended to represent an oblivious, society-as-usual response in the face of the crisis. She exercises discriminating taste in her indulgence while disregarding the catastrophe around her. Funnily, I felt she came to be a loving grandmotherly character dropping bits of hope and safe harbor.
The exultant dancer embodies the notion that all is perfect in the universe at all times even if we cannot understand how everything fits into a great cosmic plan. The lone fox is deeply saddened by Little Brother’s gargantuan foolishness.
I included the little jerboa simply because I couldn’t resist him (after Jacopo Ligozzi, late 16th century). Who will survive? The rower, fashioned with an organ-grinder monkey in mind, is frantically over-whelmed with the task of trying to steer the gravy-boat-like vessel. Panicked, he asks help to solve the tragedy. How?
“tired” 2009 Acrylic, Unstretched 72 x 107
It was my intention to create a piece that expresses the exhaustion I feel of late. In articulating the faces, I became aware of underlying emotional subtexts of whining dissatisfaction, complaints, reluctance, despair, hopelessness, self-pity and anger. I was reminded how often when asked if I am angry, I commonly reply, “I’m just tired”.
As the painting progressed, I noticed that the hands of the figures were very powerful, like laborer’s hands. These people are workers. But they are not in action. They are idle, in limbo, or perhaps “out to pasture” in the ranks of the unemployed.
The bunnies represent the generally benign, pacifist nature of the typical American citizen. They also symbolize proliferation, the endless production of more and more humans “coming down the pike”. Having recently read Richard Adams’ “Watership Down”, I found his examination of the varied societal structures that the band of journeying rabbits encounters to offer a pertinent inquiry into the ideal social pattern for optimal liberty and happiness. In the meantime, so many people, so tired.
“Tree of Life” 2010 Acrylic, Unstretched 73 x 106
It was my intention to create a piece that reflected on the various stages of life. I envisioned a tree, akin to the Bodhi tree, whose roots reached all corners of the earth and from which sprung all manifestations of life and the concomitant psychological postures that typify those periods.
The cactus that busts the crib suggests a traumatic rupture in the early years and alludes to a broken home. The child holding ice skates finds herself in an austere and chilly landscape, cognizant of the situation and worried by the projected ramifications. (I am reminded of Charlie Brown’s Halloween treat of a rock, saying “I got a rock”, in her case, a moon rock!) Conversely, the cat basks in the glow of bountiful affection with the chocolate cake suggesting a maternal demonstration of love. The polarized psychology of the cat and the child humorously captures the contrapuntal condition of the haves/have-nots mental framework.
The braying, angry sheep represents the barking noise of society as a gaping maw of unmet craving. Meanwhile, the yogi balances lightly on the tree of life with clear focus, an open heart, and an awareness of the tragi-comedy that is life’s journey. The crutches and wheel chair represent the failing physicality of the older years. Weaknesses now appear on the horizon.
The little bull dog was intended to suggest old age’s fond farewell to life with a sentiment of gratitude and appreciation for the experience of life amidst the condition of still not understanding its mysteries.
“Party Life” 2008 Acrylic, Unstretched 95 x 410
A mural-scale acrylic painting composed of three pieces of approximately 8’ x 11’ unstretched canvas, “Party Life” is a psychological story that parallels America’s ascendancy and state of decline in an allegorical microcosm that follows the life of a party as an emotional mirror. (Part 1: Pre-Party, Part 2: The Party, Part 3: The Aftermath).
Amidst the journey are issues of aging, death, and loneliness. The most significant parallel storyline follows a girl’s hopes for the party, her meticulous preparation for the party, her falling head over heels in love, and her crushing self-effacing realization that she functioned only as an object of sexual exploit. The bare ass references the target of her, that is to say, the seemingly sole zone of import. In the final panel, she wails at the negation of her personage, the empty nullification of her worth as a unique being. The scenario matches the military/industrial complex’s dismissal of America as an object of financial exploit, obdurately disavowing its value as a unique harbor of dreams made real.
“Psychological Cubism” 2006 Acrylic 144 x 252
Tacked directly to the wall, this work is comprised of seven pieces of 72”x 54” unstretched canvas abutted next to each other in an approximate quarter-drop grid fashion. Basically, each piece delineates one of the character’s point of view. The scenario is the classic “girl walks into a bar…”. As the various characters pass through each other’s domain, we see their beings reconfigured to evince that individual’s “take” on them.
For example, as the man sits and sips his beer in the Tiki Lounge, we see him as a blue-collar worker with a world of responsibilities on his mind. As he passes into the woman’s realm to order another beer from the bartender, he is now perceived as a toxic, smarmy source of trouble.
In the bartender’s world, we see the bartender’s earlier persona in the award plaque photo on the counter as the face of optimism, eager toward the future. Now, as he addresses the woman’s request to use the restroom, we see his burnt out expression suggesting his loss of future’s horizon, succumbing to an existence of endless monotony. We see in the mirror reflection behind the bar, (loosely referencing Manet’s bar scene), his impression of the woman as a finicky female. As the woman walks toward the restroom, she pauses to pet the dog. Having entered the man’s territory, she is now perceived as “do-able”.
In the sleeping dog’s world, it’s all about shoes freighted with news of the outside world, while across the bar in the parrot’s arena we see the bird’s time-lapse antics and his perception of the girl as a brightly-colored, abstract shape. Below, the old woman chomping on pretzels perceives the girl to be a tramp. We see the old woman’s self-perception as an over-sized clown. As the dog and parrot enter her realm, she sees the evidence of the world’s toll on them. The dog is missing a hind leg (though as he dreams in his own zone he is whole) and the parrot is blind in one eye. Reflected in the cash register, we see the parrot’s read on the old woman, suggesting a frightened human daunted by dwindling health and resources in the face of aging. This brings us back full circle to the girl as she enters the bar. We see her reflection in the glass of the door and recognize that she perceives herself (probably a bit on the younger side) as a nice person, a little nervous and unsure of herself.
The aspiration of the piece is to further the notion of cubism by pushing the idea of multiple perspectives into the realm of psychological perceptions. Of course, underlying it all is the idea that we are all one (hence the use of Polaroid self-portraits to articulate all the various emotions). Also, the notion that in furthering the idea of time lapse, that the girl will eventually be/is in fact the old woman years later/now. Fundamentally, all the characters are the same at the core, wistfully vulnerable in the face of life.
"Casino" 2007 Acrylic, Unstretched 95 x 133
“Myth Cycle” 2005 Acrylic, Unstretched 94 x 410
Pulling imagery from my own life as well as invented characters predominantly drawn from cultural clichés, this thirty-four-foot-long acrylic painting follows the myth formula outlined in Joseph Cambell’s “Hero of a Thousand Faces”. Starting in the upper left corner, the hero awakens and is lead to the threshold of adventure where she tumbles into the sea. The gravestones evince her descent into death where she must contend with the unsavory guard to gain entrance into the next world which I have cast as a teetering circus of societal pitfalls. Throughout her journey she encounters adversaries as well as helpers who assist and guide her through the various realms until she returns full circle with the boon to the world.
The piece visits life experience from the female perspective, with the obligatory gestures and various roles she adopts as she maneuvers through the social structure. She reemerges a restored, illuminated female celebrating the contribution that is the female perspective.
“rah, rah, sis, boom, bah” 2014 Acrylic, Unstretched 74 x 54
I’d been feeling like a tired cheerleader, tired of encouraging myself as an artist and adjunct art professor, believing that if one does one’s best that the society will acknowledge and reward one’s diligent and consistent work. I thought it might be interesting to contrast that emotional fatigue with another character which embodies the commercial representation of a successful person enjoying the “good life” with a hyper-happy, superficial veneer of enjoyment.