It is lost, most of it, due to the lack of interest. “Lack of Interest” and by that I mean, in a manner of civility, that most would prefer that it had never happened, but in that it did happen, they are contented to see it dissipate into the dust of bygone history as if it never happened. But it did happen and I didn’t go away with the “it” of this dilemma. If that exposes an element of denial on their part, that is the risk I take in remaining present and vocal in the spirit of creativity.
It isn’t just about the Industrial Culture in the Nuclear Age, but it is about that also. The impact of “The Bomb” resonated through humanity after the war. As a young man venturing into the world of art in 1971, the photographs of David Smith (sculptor) working in his studio on the farm at Bolton’s Landing in upstate
, with drawing paper on the floor and ink or home-made egg tempera brushed onto the paper opened a new window into creativity. The drawings would become sketches for welded metal sculptures, or flow into the endless stream of new work being produced in the 1950’s as artists around the world seemed to go into hyper-drive in an effort to produce as much work as quickly as possible, because it could all be gone in a flash as the race to produce more nuclear warheads moved steadily forward as well. There was no time to carve stone any more. Creating works through the new tools of the trade made it possible to create more works, almost as fast as the drawings themselves happened. The rush to produce became an obsession. The photographs and films of Jackson Pollack doing “drip art” at the same time in an out building (or outside the old shed) on a small farm on New York Long Island became another example of how to work. Combined with an interest in pottery and thus, Japanese pottery, raku, and Zen Buddhism, and the styles of decoration from which all of this merged in some <rewind> fashion back into the whispers of history, gave me impetus to take up a brush and make marks on clay, paper, or canvas without touching the brush to the surface. This became my new handwriting by the time I was 20 years old.
Later I read that Jackson Pollack had observed the ritual sand paintings of the Navajo as a small child and that was a major influence on his effort to recreate something he experienced of that time and place. To reference that as a matter of importance in the early interest in his work became a bit of small print in the general consensus of this new and radical departure from the norm. Similar references of inspiration fall to the wayside in other approaches to creativity, as if humanity was “inventing” a new form of art in this Industrial Culture. Most of the work was well steeped in specific elements of ancient history if one took the time to notice. But popular culture isn’t about noticing the details. So it is easy to ignore the details of this work, the history that has been intentionally destroyed by a detached society in an effort to make like it never happened, as I stay true to the vision and keep working anyway.
I live in “public housing” rent free today. I moved here ten months ago following a period of time when I was “homeless”. Five years ago I went through foreclosure and lost the home and property I had spent many years working to have as a place for my family to live and work and host guests who had benefited greatly from that time I was there, we were there, but in the end, after a nasty divorce around the spouse’s drug addiction and the failure of a supposed-patron who had signed a contractual commitment to buy $100,000.00 worth of art over a two year period of time as part of the mortgage contract with the lender, reneged on that contract, stating that he was a Christian and I was a Cherokee Indian, and as such, he could not morally excuse himself for continuing to honor his commitment to buy art. I’ll call him Kevin C. for the same of identification. Kevin had visited the studio many times over the previous year following the divorce and my return to the property after having been falsely accused of assault and forced off the property through usage of character assassination and a court system that favors the voice of a woman over that of a man in matters of domestic violence, even if she was the one who was guilty, but never mind any of that. No one else seemed to mind, so why should we make that a sticking point today? Kevin would look at some work and admire it and ask how much. Rather than go check my price list I would name a price well below what I had it listed for on my data base, because I knew he didn’t have that much money at the moment, but since he had a large holding of real estate on the market that would allow him to buy work in the future at the pre-established price, I didn’t worry so much about it at the time. He was happy to get the work he admired and I needed what little funds he could shake loose at the time. Later I realized that he had a gambling problem and I consider that to be as much a factor in why he backed out on the contract as anything, but he gave a reason and I’m the fool that takes a liar at his word for some reason.
So I don’t have any of those works on hand to support the fact that I’ve been doing this for a while. What got sold or given away is out there, but stacks and stacks of work went into storage in 2007 and have never been seen since. I don’t know if they exist or not. I approached my sister about contacting other family members a year earlier before the foreclosure, and she related to me that none of my family cared about me. Their silence in this matter speaks for itself. I exist in a vacuum in this environment and yet the will to continue to create drives me forward. From a small stipend I have purchased some paper, oil pastel, ink, and brushes, and am able to produce art again in this makeshift studio. I make marks on the paper with oil pastel to give a pre-existing composition that my ink marks follow in creating a new work. Six pieces of paper laid together on the grass on the lawn behind the apartment, with the digital video recorder a friend gave me a few months ago held in one hand while I apply the ink with a brush or two in the other. No one comes to see the event or hold the camera. No one comes to see the work. Only one or two people have stopped by in the past six months to see the work previous to this work. I exist in a vacuum, and yet I have this sense that it isn’t the nature of humanity as a whole but of those around me that generate this vacuum, so I work and document and write and inform a greater community of this effort, like an SOS signal out there that I am being held hostage by a repressive and genocidal people who seem to hold an air of disinterest in the matter, like it is only a matter of time before they starve me out and then the matter is resolved. In time they will win because time is on their side.
|A close-up of one of the works in progress|
POV: Six work of art in progress (the video on You Tube)
These works will be added to a new page, "Ink 4", on my web site off the "Works on paper" page soon.