Dearly Departed

Release: The Death of my Grandfather

I have been fortunate enough to achieve greater understanding of life through death. At the moments when perspective and solace are needed I have found some comfort through knowledge and wisdom. With the clarity offered only through time, I am reminded that we will and must confront the reality of our mortal natures at various moments throughout our lives. Sometimes these passages can be abrupt and painful and a deeply felt sense of treachery towards life can incite a violent bitterness while other times the loss of life seems akin to kindness, as though it were a merciful act of love upon one by a mysteriously divine grace.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to travel and meet with my mother at my Grandfather’s bedside in Arizona. The desert sun of late September still scorches the earth while the arid dry air burns the eyes. It was not a visit of pleasure but a pilgrimage. We made this trip not knowing what would happen. We were fortunate to eventually bring him home from the hospital and share precious conversations with him. We were lead to believe his life would outlast our previous expectations and were comforted in this new knowledge. Our times together were sparse and brief, my Mother and I spent a great deal of time alone together and with Grandmother. What did transpire in those conversations was of great importance for all of us and will be remembered dearly.

We left Arizona knowing things would get a little better before they got worse. In reality, it would actually be no more than a month before his transfiguration. Hours before his passing, I had a restless anxiety. I wrote to my mother to let her know I was thinking of her. My tension eventually gave way to an uneasy sleep. The morning of, during my commute on the subway, I happened upon one of many possible Jorge Luis Borges’ stories. This particular story was The Immortal. I had nearly finished it when my mother called me to tell me the grave news. I could not help but draw the comparison that man, though he wishes for the eternal, might indeed be more satisfied to live as we all do, briefly.

In the face of my dying Grandfather my senses were capable of directly confronting the eventuality of death but my language could not. I could not speak to my Grandfather as if he were dying though the reality was open and real. There was no need to speak about death while living, as there was still life to live. We had plenty of things to talk about and not talk about. We both could feel the silent waiting patience of death and chose not to discuss its presence. I think we rested knowing it was on its way and instead were comforted by each other while remembering the better days we had spent together.

My Grandfather William passed this October twelfth. The fruit of his labors and the Irish American surviving members of three descending generations walk among us. He lives on in living memories and will be missed.



Artist Statement: The Abstractions: 1.30.10

In regards to painting's numerous limitations and belittled status in current discourse, I will dismiss myself from judgment and continue the conversation.

Figurative and representational modes cannot on their own encapsulate the whole complexity of contemporary life. I utilize abstract languages to extend the dialogue towards these other ever expanding realities. It's a methodology in art that has existed in its maturity for more than a century. It is obvious that abstraction has taken it's own historical foothold in art but it continues to remain fresh in my thinking process because of its fluid capacity to mold itself to change. That is to say that it seems capable of keeping in step with time.

I took the task upon myself to develop an artistic approach that could be flirtatious while not referencing the body. I wanted to build a painting that could be stern and comedic while not being didactic or funny. I wanted to evoke the new worlds of motion graphics in static form, to maintain that spirit of visual movement in silent stillness. My works seek to be familiar by making slight reference to the world while also being unique singular events held on a shallow stage off Broadway.

The paintings concern themselves with several overarching ideas. They are organized on a formal basis utilizing geometric forms. I use many reductive shapes, boxes, and post and lintel junctions with other simple elements to construct my images to echo the framed rectangularity of the image. I construct my paintings with the illusion of shallow space. By layering images I develope the awareness of the third dimension. Utilizing over painting and under painting, the works never abandon the material nature of paint or its inherent object qualities. I allow paint to behave in a natural fashion where layering and textures are able accumulate in the process of working.

The vocabularies of elements that have been used are thought of as parts like those found in erector sets, legos or machines. These parts are tinkered with into the various apparatus constructions you see. I have a tremendous interest in engineers and their ability to take parts, tools and knowledge to develop and create functional things of value. The film projector is an item I find to be as interesting as filmaking itself. The projector if it were to cease its harmonious operation would leave us without the film performance, we would still have a film but no way to see it in its intended form thus technology acts as the second half of the art. I think of machines, engines, stock material, distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, and production when I paint, not always in this order. The ideas they generate help in translating my experiences into a painting language.

My compositions often play with or emphasize bilateral symmetry like that of a building façade. As in reference to most biological organisms, they are never quite perfect or exact; they give way to varying degrees of mutation. They mirror themselves and deviate all together. They are in the process of conversion or function. Often they can float un-tethered in space or can be anchored in delicate balance. My paintings find themselves at a tenuous moment, as information is spilling out or focused inward. They imply scientific origins but reveal no concrete datum. As cropped spaces from a larger scale world, my paintings imply the viewfinder or aperture. Unlike the traditional window view in historical art these attempt to ride a fine median between conventional space and modern flatness. These paintings use windows within windows to echo the computer interface. They attempt to be unplugged luminescent beacons of a new program immediately abandoned by software developers.

My palette often focuses on high key colors in an effort to compete with and compliment the every day experiences of advertising, objects, architecture, garments, etc. Gradients and broad sweeps of color can converge and diverge over super sweet day-glow hues in ways that fold space and insinuate dynamic range. Natural, soft, hard, and toxic colors spill out and over an empty terrain of storefront displays. I include graphic and pattern elements as a way of broadening the image reference pool to engulf cultural and popular motifs. These examples would include elements from street fashion and popular objects in our natural and synthetic environments, i.e. the ubiquitous faux animal pattern.

The Danimal exploits series refers my interest in the animal print, to utilize natural variety found in wildlife and the human exploitation of it. I find a pervasive reference to the animal kingdom on bed sheets, t-shirts, panties, purses, and overcoats. At once both meaningful and banal, the status of high and lowbrow consumer culture, the animal print has become a loaded symbol of luxury and the cheap exotic. The zebra, leopard, tiger, peacock, etc. all have come to symbolize desire and beauty. I imagine if tigers had lawyers would they collect royalties for the use of their stripes on pillows and coffee mugs? What if animal species could protest the copyright and trademark infringement over their respective brands? I continue the exploitation and abstracting of animal forms into a new value system. Authentic skins and furs continue to be held as valuable commodities in poaching markets, but the world at large has moved on towards the synthetic, towards the extrapolated marks of exotic beauty. I re-hunt these new abstracted animals across the broad American plains from Vegas showbiz glitz to the fashion glamor of 5th Avenue and fluorescent isles of Wal-Mart.


Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger: We Loved You

Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger: A True Story, No Kidding, I Mean Really.

It took me roughly ten years to pull myself together and return to this book and actually read it. It was assigned when I was a High School student and I never completed the damn thing for what ever reason. I’m not sure if I was too immature, too scared, or just plain lazy not to read it but I didn’t. As it turned out, I was more like Holden then I could have ever even imagined.

A week before my 26th birthday I decided to buy another copy of the famed book Catcher in the Rye. I picked up the edition at my favorite book shop in NYC with the original cover design loosely drawn depicting the books last scene, not the rainbow student edition. I think it was that bland cover that made me never want to pick it up; the minimal design never caught me when I was young and it still doesn’t. I wanted to finally come to terms with that one novel that kept resting in the back of my mind all those years and meet Holden Caulfield once and for all.

I was hooked from the first page. When I came to the book I had finally lived a little and been through the likes of Kerouac, Hemingway and even Steinbeck. Salinger’s character Holden and I became good friends in my mind, honestly. No kidding. I mean I really wanted to give old Jane a buzz. I did. The book was released in 1951 and here I am reading this in 2010 and I dig it like none other. I understand it. I get underneath it and Holden has got a hold on me like we see the world through the same eyes. When people say please, it depresses me too. It actually does.

The last scene of the book when Holden finally realizes his decision and enjoys the moment we both share in the revelation that is coming home. On my way back to Brooklyn after my long day at work and the gym I finished the book with that feeling you get when you are not too sad to let go but also excited for what will happen next even though you are only left in your own isolation.

I finished this wonderful story and I felt like I knew something intimate about its author. As I finished this story in silence J.D. Salinger was also slipping into his own. He would die that same day Wednesday January 27th of natural causes. He was 91.

I sit here now Thursday afternoon. My fiancé Katya sent me the news. I remain stunned that after a decade of keeping myself away from this powerful story, I finish the day he died. Full closure.

Immortality in art, it’s why we make it right?

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 26