2019 was a wildly challenging year of personal extremes. To set the stage, after three decades of teaching at MICA, I left and went to live for six wonderfully adventurous months in the turbulent Middle East. Then at the end of June, I underwent a brutal, near death experience and was flown back to Baltimore. Then, on August 8th, I again had a near death experience. The extensive recovery time transformed and reset my creative vison, which inspired an unexpected dive into new series of figurative paintings that erupted in January.
As my concepts are born out of living among and exploring diverse cultural and social influences, I foster a free-ranging, intuitive approach to making work that does not consistently follow a set of rules, let alone the politics of the art world. So, my work tends to shift in media, depending upon what goes into the stir-fry. Yet, there are consistent cycles of themes that continue to obsess my heart and mind. The great Russian film director, Andrei Tarkovsky tagged it as "the dilemma of the human condition".
I'm often surprised in my processes, which is fermented by many internalized questions, such as "What am I seeing or not seeing? Is this authentic?" To a degree, the current global political wars are being abstracted and layered among certain longer term cultural concerns, more than at any time in my career. Yet, it is never to mount a soap box, but rather reflect upon elements which transcend such platforms. This hunger generates a vision to reveal common ground. Plus, I believe that most politics in art, as those who know their global art history, often places a short term relevence that too often fails to carry revelence a century from now. The critic George Steiner made that poignant argument among others, in his classic book, Real Presences.
My asthetic often filters through a colorful, abstracted tactility based upon my teenage jungle experiences in Panama, and much later, two years scuba diving in the Philippines while working in military intelligence. Even now, I tend to cycle through periods of stripping down to essentials to returning to overloaded layering. Some works are singular while others become prototypes, possibly for further work. Some series number as low as three, yet others have resulted in as many as 66.
Over the years, certain series or works have been demolished, out of challenging storage problems...as I remain prolific. In turn, I pay careful attention to the fragments and often recycle. This continues to teach me the power of resurrection, where something that was solid or even good, becomes more than what it was before. Early on, I learned this concept through my Recycled Ocean performances which were birthed out of 20 years of Artscape installations and appearances. (a series of DVDs are available for loan upon request.)