Recently I’ve tried to cement a few ideas into some semblance of creative expression, though nothing has come to fruition. Now at the tail end of my second solo show, I feel depleted. At first when the show went up, I had incredible ideas and energy: new compositions were still coming and I was working towards finishing several pieces I started while preparing for the show.
Now I spend hours in my studio into the late night, with half finished canvases staring at me in mockery. The mouths of half formed figures laugh at my impotence; fingers from disembodied hands point accusations of fraudulence. Is it over?
In times like this, I honestly feel like I may never finish another painting again. How can I have nothing left to do with so much to say?
While I recognize this has happened before, I cannot escape the finality of this feeling. I remember when it happened last and being on the phone with Tonka outside of the office building where I was working. He suggested meditation as a method of clearing/centering my mind. It helped a bit, but sometimes nothing seems to kick start the creative engine.
Contention breeds creativity, but this is ridiculous.
I continue to sketch during the day, working out possibilities over coffee, milkshakes, and sammiches. Some ideas have potential, yet they soon dissolve into ambivalence when I consider them mere minutes later. Now it seems as I am trying too hard, which never works…
Puscifer – Palace of fine arts, March 16th
I will start with the second category here…
Extremely excited to catch his show, I bought VIP tickets as soon as they were on sale. Unfortunately, the experience left me feeling less than important. $100+ for a signed poster, a small canvas bag (made in china!) and a quickie two song acoustic set. Now the acoustic set was great, but overall the experience left me with a bad taste on my mouth. I work hard for my money and expect a nice return for VIP experiences. Even OHGR chatted us up and hung out a bit during his VIP event. And Puscifer being a bit of a class act, I feel could have offered us a bit more. Not even a handshake after you are so anal about no cameras/videography/cell phone use (more about those devices later). Yes, the two song performance was intimate, and your version of Fleetwood Mac‘s “The Chain” was spectacular, but for some reason I still felt a little cheated. I will not buy another VIP package for a future show.
This experience was exasperated by the venue. I cannot say if this was part Puscifer‘s fault, but we had to leave the pre-concert area while the extra special VIP wine tasting event was going on (I wasn’t quick enough to drop even MORE money on this delight). Now, if the Palace would have kept us in said area they would have easily made money. I alone would have bought two or three beers and at $6 for a draft, multiplied by the twenty or so others that would have also indulged, that is some serious dough. They could have made payroll with the VIP event alone. Do you know what the return is on a draft beer pour? It’s seriously ridiculous… but I digress. This multiplied by the rain made it worse, but luckily I came prepared. Oh, I almost forgot – we were offered to hang out in the lobby (that makes up for the rain) but, for an hour until doors officially opened? I declined and made my way to a local pub.
My foul mood only slightly numbed with two beers, I returned to catch Carina Round take the stage. This probably would have gone over a lot better, I admit I was still cranky, but her set wasn’t sitting well with me. I expected more melody, but really only heard her howling generic guitar-pop. And then she berates two guys in the audience (I could not see them, allegedly not too thrilled to sit through the opening act) by saying things like ‘it’s hard up here in high heels’ and ‘just relax, you only have ten more minutes before MJK comes out….’ in a condescending tone. Well, guess what bitch… no one forced you to wear high heels, at least in the audience, and you are the supporting act; you HAVE to deal with some people not into your music. It’s part of the game. After all, you sang a song with a chorus of ‘I really miss you, I do-do-do-da-do-do-do’
After that torture subsides, I am thinking to myself Pusifer has to pull out the major stops here for me not to go all Sinead on their ass… And well, THEY DID!
A spectacle from beginning to end, they shredded time and space, pulling out the full arsenal that is their new album, Conditions of my Parole, along with several favorites off the first. The levels were great, the musicians wailing, and the harmonizing between MJK and Carina Round was fantastic. I was loving “DoZo” (complete with ninja animation), “Momma Sed”, and a great power infused version of my personal favorite off V is for Vagina, “The Undertaker”. I enjoyed them playing modified versions of a few songs, though the heavier version of “Horizons” was a bit too much. I was really hoping to hear “Oceans”, “The Weaver”, and “The Rapture” and was lucky on all accounts, reduced to tears with “Oceans”. Also, the video inter segments of Billy D and wife/cousin Hilda were hilarious (two characters dreamed up in the mind of MJK that opened the show via video, a throwback to the V is for Vagina‘s tour).
The most impressive part of the show was the way it started. MJK came out alone pulling a tractor trailer and started setting up. He spoke about sustainability and what it means (not in the bottom of your menu kind of way) for us as humans to sustain life, how we panic when we realize our own mortality, and ultimately the point of Puscifer – “that life is too short not to create something with every breath we draw“. Brilliant.
A note about the no recording/pictures/cellphone use rule: I totally agree that they are distracting to the performers and should be turned off, but after the fifth reminder or so, I felt like I was being treated as a child. Now I know this has to be done, courtesy of the one bad apple that will ruin the bunch, but it all seems to teeter a bit on the elist edge. I understand MJK is a very private person, and I can respect that, but it just gets insulting. Ask once, say it again, and then just start kicking the assholes out. If there is one thing about MJK fans, they respect him (some to the point of obsession) and I am sure we all would have obeyed. I wanted to deck the usher when she directed her ‘child voice’ my way: “You know Maynard doesn’t like cameras or cell phone use…”
And here comes the ugly.
This has nothing to do with Puscifer and little to do with the venue. The fucking noisy bitches in row D about seats 26-24 that couldn’t shut the fuck up for a full song. Sometimes a response was more than valid, but seriously, if you are going to be that obnoxious, walk your dumb ass into oncoming traffic before a show.
Overall this show was awesome and redeeming of the bad initial misgivings. A solid 8 out of 10!
What the fuck does that mean? Dark as compared to what? I wonder if Tim Burton got these responses before he was big (or still does).
I don’t really think of my work as dark, but I know that it makes some people uncomfortable. It is confrontational on purpose, and if someone thinks it is dark, chances are they see something inside themselves reflected back, possibly afraid to examine further. I have sabotaged meeting people by sending a link to my site first. I have ended conversations with my work. Once Tonka had to leave the room. Mind you, I’m not complaining, it’s a great filtering tool.
It is not art without a reaction. The answer to that timeless question, ‘is it art’?
So I have made a decision. I will embrace the darkness. And if you thought my work was ‘dark’ before…
To those who know me, this won’t be a surprise at all, but I always have a tune in my head. Seriously, I wake up singing a song. It permeates all facets of my life.
I bought an iPhone not too long ago – yeah, I officially became one of those. I actually love it – now I have two ipods. Being that my phone memory is smaller that my ipod, I elected to copy the ‘greatest hits’ if you will of my music selection to my phone. But what became of all this surprised me.
When I would turn off my iPhone after getting home or out of MUNI, the song that was playing would stick with me. Even more geek-like, if that song just ended, often I would start singing the next song (in my mind – well, okay, sometimes out loud) on the album/compilation. Now this in itself isn’t too odd, but these days I listen to my ipod at work and at the gym, and most other times (read traveling) I am plugged into the iPhone, spewing out the ‘greatest hits’ collection of my repertoire.
So this has led to having two distinct music tracks going in my head. Yes, two. And at times, I will swap between them almost seamlessly. I am unsure what this is doing to my work and painting habits, though I am sure it’s a testament to multitasking.
I had a bad dream a few nights ago. Yes, you can call it a nightmare.
I was in a friend of the family’s new condo, and it was here in San Francisco. The family friend was sleeping, oddly enough his wife wasn’t in the picture. My mom was also there, asleep on the couch and as soon as I can remember, I see funnel clouds descending from the sky… actually a bunch of them (there were big glass windows to see out of).
Funny that in a city known for earthquakes my mind went to tornadoes.
So the place starts rocking, no, more tilting like a spinning top ready to fall over. There was this sculpture in one of the rooms that I created (not during this dream, it was just one of my pieces) with moving parts, not unlike a pendulum. I watched it swing around to show just how far the building was moving around, particularly a top piece yellow and chartreuse, that when it was perfectly horizontal meant I was in real trouble.
I recall running into an empty room and thinking ‘this feels just like being drunk’ (the bad kind) and running back out of that room. The condo was pretty sizeable, I ran around in a panic for some time, knowing at any time the foundation would give way and I would be a mingle of cement and glass soup on the street, another casualty of mother nature.
I also recall some other rooms in the condo while running around that were closed off, and for some reason I caught the notion that this is were the friend kept his porn.
I’m pretty sure my father was some where in the mix, but that might be from the (immediately?) previous dream which he and my mother were definitely in, along with the family friend as he was showing off his new deck that converts into a spa on button press. Yes, a deck that converts into a spa… kinda like one of those hidden pool things. This wasn’t in the condo though.
Then the swaying stopped and it cleared up. Soon after the son of the family friend came walking in and I said ‘Hi! Is the wife and child here too?’ He replied yes. This other three part family came in (Mother, Father, and Son) and asked about the tornadoes. I immediately launched into my panic mood again in descriptions of the ordeal and talking about the sculpture with the top piece. I was so exasperated talking about the experience I could hardly breathe.
And that was it.
My mind has drifted to sculpture on more than one occasion with several false starts. Maybe I will try my hand at it again. I seem to have this yellow and chartreuse piece in mind…
So I was on MUNI the other day, and saw this girl. She was holding these dried flowers and it was eerily similar to the most recent painting I finished entitled The misinterpretations of silence and it’s disastrous consequences:
Flowers on MUNI:
Okay, so this post is a bit of a deviation from the usual creative nuances, but I don’t do too many things. Allow me clarify: I am usually doing one of four things – working (the-pay-the-bills-web-geekery-kind), working (the-being-creative-usually-painting-kind), hanging out with Tonka , or I’m at the gym. Seriously. I mean, I also sleep and eat and go dancing and hang with a few friends, but those activities don’t happen nearly as often. So, considering the fact that the gym is a huge part of my routine, I wish it was more conducive to an enjoyable time.
I promise I will be back with an art related post in the near future.
1. The ‘cell phone talker’
The other day this guy is on the crunch machine and talking on his cell phone. Loud. I could seriously hear him over my headphones. The people who are gabbing while working out fascinate me. I mean, what does the person on the other end hear? “Yeah, I will <gasp> be there <groan> in about <gasp> an hour!” Can you really be getting a good workout? This is indicative how cell phone rudeness has hit an all time low.
2. The ‘over perfumed cuz I don’t want to smell like I’m working out’
Hey, guess what? Some of us are allergic to the stank resulting from the corporate capitalization on your fear that you’re alone because you are normal and produce scent. Guess how it’s still done in the animal kingdom. Oh, maybe that is why you’re alone. Get over it. You are at a gym.
3. The ‘aerosol deodorant’ guy
See above. Though these guys (I say guys cuz it’s witnessed in the locker room) take it a step further by spraying their deodorant on. Now, not only is the stuff disgusting in the first place, but the spray permeates every mucus membrane in a ten foot radius. Hacking and sinus infections ensue!
4. The ‘I can’t wait one minute’ guy
Not so much on the machines, which when it happens is annoying as all hell, but worse yet is the crowded locker rooms, when that one guy has to push everyone out of the way cuz he HAS TO CHANGE AND GET OUT OF HERE NOW. Dude, there is just no room, and I don’t want your sweaty anything rubbing against me. Give me a minute and you will have PLENTY of room. I promise.
5. The ‘walk around and look cool’ guy
This is the most enigmatic of the gym ne’r-do-well’ers. They look great, and they know it. So they walk around the gym, usually in a distinct circular pattern, checking out the machines, occasionally doing a set here and there with a douchey smugness that is surpassed only by the nitwits on Jersey Shore. What I don’t understand about these guys is how they look so good. They are hardly breaking a sweat and in the hour to two hour time frame I’m there, I see them maybe doing two sets max on some small machine.
6. The ‘bottle fillers’
This one needs little explanation. You know who they are, filling their bottle at the water fountain while the line queues up behind them. If you are that serious about hydration, buy a bigger bottle at Walgreens.
7. The ‘new year’s resolution’
These people are, unfortunately, a necessary evil. The gym works as a business model because of these people who drop big money to finally get in shape this year but ultimately end up bagging the idea a month or two into the plan. They just eat up machine time and locker room space, and you know they will be gone before long, making it that much worse to wait out. Too bad they can’t just pledge the money and be done with it.
These people aren’t really a nuisance, but creep me out nonetheless. Guys who are really scared of showing their junk in the locker room, guys who shave in the locker room, and the worse of the ‘lesser’ – those who wear flip flops while working out, especially on the cardio machines. How’s that arch support working out for you?
The other week, I posted the winner of my Facebook contest. Said winner receives a print of her choice (dinner was reserved for locals), which happens to be of my painting Hasslich.
This piece has been hanging up in my kitchen for over a year, and while not becoming ‘invisible’, I have really revisited it in the process of prepping it for photographing.
“Hasslich” was one of the many 90%-done-but-not-quite-there-yet pieces that I seem to accumulate all to easily. When I finally finished it over a year ago, it was already languishing for an additional year+ in different studio spaces as I bounced from one place to another. It is really intense to view it now through the goggles of time.
I love what the colors do in this piece… the way the cold tones meld with the warm strikes me deep, causing and alleviating conflict in the same stroke, and back again. This combined with slight hints of color compliments push the subject(s) even further.
In all honesty, I still don’t know if it is about one, two, or three persons. I had a pretty solid understanding when I started, that was replaced during the painting and the subsequent ‘languish’ time period. And even today, I have a different filter that suggests it was even more personal than originally intended.
To be clear: it is most definitely about (at least) two persons. I just don’t know if these persons are me. I have always said my paintings are a self portrait of sorts, but nothing is more obvious when I stare into this piece.
So I got an email out of the blue about a week ago asking me if I want to show work…
I was ecstatic! The email was a reply from dropping off my business card months ago at Dada – an art bar in downtown San Francisco. It turns out it was just want I needed. I haven’t really painted anything since Open Studios (the Gears project I was working on has totally stalled – more on that another time) and shortly after I received this email, I started back in the studio. I have several ideas swirling around my head now that I’m getting dizzy, so we will see what happens (read: what work I can finish) before the show.
But, there’s a lesson here. Perseverance does pay off. I couldn’t be happier to be showing work, starting 2012 with a bang.
Tonka found these on the sidewalk awhile back and picked them up for me. They have been kicking around the studio for a bit and I finally pulled them out for an examination. I thought back to a conversation I had with a friend who was having some difficulties and my gears started turning. I realized that in accordance with my Transformation ideas (series) is the element of how these transformations take place; not the cause, but the actual process of transforming. It wasn’t long before the thought manifested: Gears are the mechanisms that drive our transformations.
I have a few ideas of where to go with this, though it is too early to be sure of exactly how they will translate to the canvas. In any event, these items will make up part of the finished piece.
I’m really good at not talking about my artwork. I rarely ever want to share the intimate details of why I paint a specific piece, at times to my disadvantage. I’ve always looked at artwork as a mystery for the viewer to dismantle, thus bringing their own experiences and convictions to develop meaning. Then one day, Tonka told me ‘if you ever want to show your work, you are going to have to talk about it’. Meh.
I had a ridiculously easy plan for this a few months back, but unfortunately, it didn’t pan out as I hoped. I decided to make a Facebook ‘fan’ page where I would post new work, and the masses that loved it would provide their own commentaries and fuel a debate of what it is to be human. My miscalculation was that anyone would voluntarily assume this role when me, the artist, wouldn’t even do it.
But yet I still don’t think we, as artists, should give away the mystery. It seems that musicians can play this card famously to heightened interest and sales – we still flounder over Carole King’s object of desire (and you aren’t vein if you think a song that IS about you is… well… about you) and continuously postulate on what Lucy in the sky with diamonds is about. But it seems us visual artists cant get away with that ‘i’m not going to tell’ strategy.
Ultimately, I know my work is challenging and highly personal, but all great art is. And my fear becomes reality when I realize that most people don’t want to examine it. Though we never should be afraid to speak up and I offer this space here to share some thoughts beyond the miniscule Facebook posts.