I once made a painting that started as something and became something else. The top was asphalty, rough black with letters imprinted, stamped, helter skelter in the wet concoction. I can't let things be as they are. I must add and stir and amend. I can't quite place the why of it but I, somewhere along the line, accepted metaphysics and all its attendant spiritual quirks and manifestations as real, long before I was an artist -- when I defined modern art as stupid and banal -- when I was afraid of myself. Maybe it's because I had to face death as a very young child. Maybe I will always try to make things as they aren't. Or, maybe I face creation head-on, demanding recognition of the beauty and horror of things. I lived in the womb with a dead brother. I lost a little sister.
I splash and grind dirt and salt into my paints -- always looking for pigments and textures that hold quotidian magic. I believe truth to be something of cattle or aphids or the miracle of soil. I used to go to Mass; excited, eager for the connection with the grittiness and splendor of the ritual, the hand embrace of a stranger, the surrender of the acceptance of the chalice in time of disease -- the connection to something of blood and bone and tears. It's a great loss. The loss of the human that is divine -- something indeed mundane, yet wild and flashing with a true, bawdy charisma. The something recognized and chased by artists and medicine men.
I once knew a man that only took whores as lovers. He could be frightening in his animistic truth and he made many blanch at his casual brutality and many grin at the generosity and naivety of his boyish spirituality. He was a folk scientist and seeker of wild places. I mention him to get back to my painting. I was thinking of him as I laid down the black. I'm not sure why. I guess it's because I started the painting without any conscious notion of where it was going. As many of mine do -- it became. The field of black became scattered and inscrutable. The bottom portion became an unconscious narrative: an orb disturbed, blackened, and a cheap plastic house fan -- the kind that oscillates from side to side, cooling in 180 degrees. The blades became things not of the factory but of the butcher shop. I then became compelled to make green. I remember, after I applied the first few strokes, thinking of it as, "a good green fading." I put all the green on the canvas in incorporeal, controlled strokes -- somnambulantly painting in a context that I was yet to be aware of.
The painting became a thought about the warming of the planet. It is a western kid's unwitting imitation of a Tibetan mandala or the spirit of one. A geographer friend and I used to sit under stars, shooting and not, around western, beautiful mesquite fires, drinking beer and talking of things hard, humorous and divine. My painting is this form of conversation. It speaks of the wonder of wondering. It is a ghost dance. It begs for a return. It howls for recognition.