Saturday, January 29, 2011

Take Your Medicine, Son.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011, and I am finalizing my pack up for the excursion to the ranch. Simultaneously I am feeling much like the new book I'm reading, given to me by the foreman of the Slaughter, called "Brutal Journey", written by Paul Schneider, detailing the first crossing of North America by Narvaez and Cabeza de Vaca. Roughly the trip from Lockney, in the Texas Panhandle, to the Slaughter Ranch, southwest of Sanderson, is a shade over 400 miles, the last thirty of which are through dirt roads and rural pasture lands, cliffs, creeks, and desert mountain vistas. And much like Narvaez, my ship is in poor condition and I am overloaded, as always, with the expectation that motivation will meet precisely in time with opportunity and that art will be produced. This, however, is always an idea of hope in the mind of a broke, over invested artist much as it was the same for the conquistadors of the 1500's. I, like them, must believe in the unbelievable and insist this is God's plan for glory and success in my career, although Narvaez never returned and Cabeza de Vaca was only one of four survivors out of more than six hundred who ever made it back to Spain. That's encouragement.
Even so, I carry supplies to an area of Texas that is certainly the most rural of outposts, even Redford had a town just 15 miles away. But under the circumstances of my capabilities there are only a few choices I can make: 1.Take this job ranching and hold the potential for art making 2. Apply for master's schooling with art making coupled with treacherous financial deficit and deficiency 3. Return to the highway and trucking with no promise of art or life and little money (not too short of prison). Sometimes I'd trade the struggle for the ladder, but the conquistador inside me just won't settle for it. I'd press on into the mouth of unknown oblivion chest up, head high, looking to the Almighty to make the way before me although it likely leads me to intensified struggle and ultimately death, much like it did Narvaez. My only hope is that once the layers of time have been peeled away, my art will find it's way alive, out of the void like the record keeping of Cabeza de Vaca, and live on to tell the story.
There are a lot of similarities between the artist and the conquistador, a lot of similarities in the journey, like mice feeding on supplies below deck. Include me in your petitions to the Lord, I will need them. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Revision and Packing Bags

This body of work is that exactly. Work. Sometimes it's not good to restrain yourself in artwork but sometimes it is. For me it helps in building that overwhelming surge to do something beyond, the change that is uncomfortable but what is that supplies life to medium, the presence of art. My intent, for this body, is for the sake of my conservative origins, and because I need the discipline of completing a series of real subject in acrylic, despite my wanting to do anything else, I press on.

Artist's Texas Panhandle Studio, 2011.

It all fastens around the merger of abstract ideas and realistic subjects. The further I go, however, the more compelled I am to initiate the "Negetism", as I refer to it, or the act of destroying it. I viewed an artist interview yesterday, a very good artist in my opinion, who was speaking of the same concept. He works up these great oil pictures only to "destroy" them in a positive sort of way. A way that makes them great; like one of my favorite stories from undergrad, Honore de Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece".
For example, in this piece I call "The Straggler". The picture itself worked fine previously, but it lacked the asthetic to make it a mystery, or to show some hint of real carelessness. For me that makes the painting new, that comunicates the human condition. There's not much in this picture that changed, but enough to hint at the idea, enough to "help" it become a better painting.

The Straggler, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48", 2010.

The Straggler, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48", 2011.

I took this piece over to Cheli's Cafe in Sanderson with a few others, I had my predispositions about it but had semi-settled on letting it be; until I saw the thing outside of the studio. In different light it felt a dead, and lacking finish. It just didn't have the fire a painting should have. I wanted to change it a bit, anymore would likely destroy it. That lesson noted in this conservative acryic effort. Time to move on to the next picture or risk going "Frenhofer" in my mind forever, which therein lies the potential in every piece.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In a Few Days I'll Turn 34

After my visit with Mr. Wells at The Field Lab, I made the pass through the Big Bend National Park. It's faster that way, although the speed limit, for about 70 miles of road, is only 45 mph. North of the park on Texas Highway 385 there's an entrance into a series of ranches across Brewster County toward the Rio Grande. From there it's roughly 68 miles of dirt road and secluded mountain, desert terrain until ultimately crossing the San Francisco Creek and the Slaughter Ranch. I was happy to be there once again, but was also a little apprehensive. When I last left the Slaughter it was not under the greatest circumstances, but that was mostly due to my own business error and artistic desperation. I don't want to be the sour grape in the sweet patch, but I guess I felt like that upon my last departure. It's a difficult explaination, but it seems to come upon me stronger these days, the impulse to find stability to make the greater works of art, to deliver a higher message than just myself. I don't fully understand it, or do I know how to get it done. It's tough to be a man in this civilization and remain at the mercy of the universe, to sit patiently and wait for God.

Lovingly, the family at the ranch welcomed me back as if
I'd never left. Time filters out a bit slower I suppose, or, it speeds along at a runaway rate. Things that happen are forgotten or understood to be a symptom of a detoxification of sorts; like a addict of the world going into a rural rehab, tossing, turning, convulsing in fits of violence. They informed me of all they were hoping to accomplish, and I met a couple of the family members who own the spread. They are happy and excited, understanding of the blessings it is to be stewards of such a place. There was a lot happening, hunter's were there to hunt a big horn mountain goat called Audad, and Andy has been trapping an outbreak of lions who make meals of small calves in their first year of life. All in all, it makes for a plethora of storylines and rural ranch dramas.

I spent about three days working in the barn area, cleaning and organizing some of the tools, re-aquainting myself with the area, forming a game plan with what and how I would begin the reorganization process of the areas in need. After the weekend, I packed up and left for the panhandle to check into some unexpected business. I also dropped some work at a local cafe that has some great wallspace in Sanderson. As I write this, the panhandle winds blow without stopping, and at times I grow weary of being caught in it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Trip out to West Texas

Six days since I left the panhandle to collect and cleanup things out in Redford. Got down there last Monday night, after a trip with more than one hickup and delay, but beat out the freezing cold weather that was setting in behind me on the plains.
Spent the night on the floor, covered with plenty of blankets I brought along. Tuesday was an entire day of cleaning the apartment at Enriques, packing up and repacking all the supplies in my truck. I have about a half dozen completed paintings of West Texas subject matter I brought along to display and try to sell in Sanderson, so the packing has revolved around the placement and protection of those pictures.

Everything went well in Redford. Scrubbed the floor where I'd spilt paint and repainted the walls where pictures were once critiqued and reworked. By the afternoon the girls whom had come to Redford to rent my place were settling in and making it their own, all that remained of my presence was the cardboard eagle cutout on the door and an oil painting of a cow that George and I collaborated on back in Brenham, 2008.
The installation left in the desert leading out to Checker's Hill and opening into a view of the Bofecillos still remained, mysteriously placed, inviting wonder, yet the true mystery of the installation is that it points the direction of the buried art capsules I place on two separate occasions.
They serve as the beginning of an engineered trailhead I used; assembled, installed, yet incomplete as my finances depleted before the whole vision could be delivered. The whole of the idea was to stretch them over the course of several miles, like way points on a map. It will be interesting to see how the materials I used will stand up to the test of the desert. Perhaps I will return and complete it one day. Of the three days there one included a return hike to the Bofecillos Mesa cave to retrieve my cot. Two nights on the floor was going to kill me and it was good to get out and stretch my legs. Afterwards I wondered how I was able to do a three to six mile hikes in unforgiving terrain with sixty plus pounds of gear on my back. Two days ago, with only a bottle of water, the excursion almost killed me.
On Friday I said my goodbyes and hopes for a return and headed East on 170 toward Terlingua. I had a brief, late afternoon visit with John Wells at the Field Lab. His progress is coming along fashionably and in the next year the off-the-grid site he's working on will be transformed. Next stop is the Slaughter Ranch in Brewster County, then through Sanderson to deliver paintings for show and sale. The newspaper in Floyd County wants me to do a second interview, I think this time they may actually want to give me a job writing and reporting! Either that or the guy still needs some other information. Also, a Lubbock gallery contacted me for a better look at my West Texas work, all happening right about the time I start to feel like lauching a long awaited body of work that picks up where my abstaction left off. A side of me is gaining momentum to break away from the safety of my cultural heritage and use painting as the communicative issue it was meant for. Here's to the grand revival of all ages. Wish me luck.

Digital image from "Rapturing the Candles of God", one of twelve, acrylic on paper on board, 7" x 24", 2006.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Morning Interview

Last December I spent two weeks framing all the cotton module paintings I created in 2008-09 while working out of my Texas Panhandle Studio, even donating one to a benefit auction for Lockney Health and Reabilitation. I wanted to celebrate my agricultural upbringing and reconnect with the days of operating implements in agricultural fields of cotton and corn. The diesel engines of the agricultural machines have terrified, and inspired me (the title of this blog for example), for the whole of my life. Agriculture and it's distribution, the infrastructure supplying life to the global civilization of man, has an impact exceeding the heigth of the heavens or the depth of the seas. Agriculture is the true direction of the future, and this ministry is no secret to those who till the earth and know the land. Today, these men and women, the people whose crops I once irrigated, cultivated, fertilized with my own sweat are the very patrons I seek to establish an artistic dialogue, to gain support and patronage, to provide the ability to do something farther than creativly imagined in their communities and the world. Indeed, it is truley a great commission to find whatever means necessary to implement the largest vision of the greater good into reality. Art in it's nature, demands it from the artist and patron alike who embrace it; for those who do not, disolve into unknown history.
This January, after a record cotton crop in the Texas panhandle region (the largest ever), the timing seemed right to show and display the two year old works, my effort to make contact with the agricultural peoples of my origins. How better to do this than the local barber shop in Lockney, Texas. For over a year now I've been displaying paintings on a small, clean, and well lit wall space of Bobbie's Buzz Cut's. The shop provides the closest contemporary gallery type setting I've found in such a small, rural community that is still capable of maintaining the traffic and dialogue of many people; not to mention, most of my target patrons cut their hair there. My question now, will they understand the capability of their support for things such as art? Will they recognize the opportunity, art reaching out to them, of this artist? The life of my art in this area swings in the balance of their generosity and ability to realize, and patronize, the arts. And by that I mean original, not reproduction; original equals the future, reproduction equals worthlessness, that's an art history lesson and fact. Time will tell, on the bright side the show landed me an interview with the local newspaper, The Floyd County Hesperian-Beacon, at the descretion of reporter Homer Marquez, whom I met at the barber shop while distributing these 4" x 6" post cards marketing my campaign. My conversation with Mr. Marquez was well rounded and thought loftly towards the possibilities of revival in these sleepy little ag communities, whose fruits sit as the foundation of all human civilization. I look forward to reading it, (title link to paper's page) and the outcome, and exceeding possibility of cultivated good possible through the hybridized realization of art and agriculture at the highest level. Godspeed, and thank you.

The Thoughts and Times of

The Video Bar