I'll be back in Santa Barbara in March for a workshop and exhibit with NY Abstract Expressionist Peter Bradley sponsored by the Squire Foundation. As many of you know, these intensive workshops led by master artists often yield exceptional work. I hope you can come see what we do and consider purchasing some of the new work we create for your collection.
Peter Bradley Workshop Critique and Exhibition
Sunday March 12 from 2-5 PM at CAW 631 Garden St, SB
Non-Vehicular Relationship, 54"x72" mixed media
With abstraction in mind I thought I'd share one of my recent forays into the genre.
I started Non-Vehicular Relationship in my studio when a young guitarist who modeled for me played many of the songs I grew up with from the 1960’s and ’70’s. Paul Simon, the Beatles, American Pie, Stairway to Heaven, etc. were all part of her repetoire along with contemporary pieces I couldn’t name. Her music started to roll around in my head for the next week as I began this painting in the studio.
Later, as I listened to the soundtracks from my childhood on Pandora it felt like scratchy sounds muddled up in my head wanted to come off my brush. If we’re of a certain age we know the sound of a skittering needle or dj scratching vinyl. The painting started as unstretched, unprimed, rough canvas. I added inks, powders, foils, etc. in random ways as it lay crumpled on the floor. At a certain point it was a messy as a littered highway and I had no idea what I was doing. I proceeded to use larger and larger brushes to cover the rough canvas that wanted to suck up everything I tried to put on it. There are gallons of paint and handsful of dried pigments embedded in this surface. I beat them in with a broom, hosed the canvas off on the asphalt outside my studio, wadded them up on the studio floor to add a little texture and then dried them on a chain link fence. I just knew I had to finish the painting but I couldn't. I was lost and confused.
Then I went on a road trip and traveled back to the South where I spent much of my time growing up. I revisited old, forgotten relationships. Some had changed beyond recognition. The people we leave behind stay the same in our minds when we’re gone for decades. Some of that can be good. Sometimes we have to renegotiate. I spent a little bit of time in cars with Uber, my brother and sister, my mom. I even hitched a ride with a Toppers pizza delivery woman. We had the kind of deep conversation about dysfunctional families you can only have with a stranger. BTW every family is dysfunctional in its own special way!
When I came home my crumpled painting was still unfinished. The romance of time and distance were erased and I realized that the lack of focus and the confusion I felt as I painted WERE the point of the painting. The dashes made of foil were the dividing lines on the road. The black splats were the highway I could see through the rusted hole in the car beneath my six year old feet.When I came home I went to my fallback when I paint. I set about making the whole thing beautiful. It glows now showing bits and pieces of the ugly scars beneath the surface. It hangs a beautiful, well finished canvas on the wall of this gallery.I’ve dealt with my junk. I have fond memories of growing up and have faced many of my demons. The painting makes me smile now because of the name and fills my heart with gratitude. I figured out how to get out of the car and walk away...
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