Monday, August 22, 2005

So, Now What?


I've been in New York City long enough to have an identity crisis.

At hazard of defining myself as solely homemaker and lovemaker, I've toyed with tossing away the painting I.D. and a whole bunch of paints and solvents because, I'll be plain; this place intimidates my pants off. I haven't quit yet however because I don't exactly know how to dispose of toxic materials here and my friend Elizabeth Royte, a published environmentalist, sits tiny but constant on my shoulder so I can't really set my materials in somebody's can during the night and run off. Even my paintings would probably create leachate in the landfill so they're hanging around too. (By the way, if you would like Elizabeth on your shoulder, and you should, check "Garbage Land: On The Secret Trail Of Trash.")

I sneak around Chelsea, stepping in and out, in and out, of galleries. Later, I quietly hash out the art-trends with myself on the 'F' train on my way back to Brooklyn to pick up the brood at PS 107. Trend: rip of Darger, nod to porn. I've searched for my type of work on that map the same way I used to pore over the MTA Subway map as bedside reading, trying to figure out how I can get a handle on this place, where I am. I hope I have the wrong map because I'm not showing up anywhere. How did I get to this place?

I took leave of a SoHo gallery last spring because I didn't connect with the rest of the work there (heavy on paperweights, light on heavyweights) and thus felt restrained in spite of, or perhaps because of, constant sales of my work. I don't want to be the most challenging thing going I guess. I also pretty much dismissed my other two Utah galleries for much of the same reason. I admit that I set myself up.

Now I have no commitments. No shows. Nobody knows who I am except my kids' friends who, it must be said, love my work. I can paint whatever I want. What do I want to paint then? Do I want to paint? (Yes.) I have ideas, but seeing contemporary work has made me second-guess my execution and subjects. I've spent a long season painting and coming to no real conclusions, just moving a brush over and over the hesitant tracks that it has already made. I have around 17 paintings started and close to being finished, but I just can't see what I need to do. I wonder at night right before I sleep if the best thing would be to become part of the as-of-yet nameless yet identifiable movement of painting (I wonder what it will end up being referred to as.) It is narrative and that fits. But it's so derivative. No, I can't. This last week, I decided to forge ahead as if I'd never seen what is going on out there. And so I continue where I am but with no audience over the age of eight (that's alright) and with a curious merging of Utah landscape with Brooklyn landscape and a whole bunch of people running around feeling lonely.

Somebody would like that, right?

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