I often bury the elements I use as grounds—laser prints, found images, cut paper—but I feel the pulse they create, the call-and-response with the paint. The picture plane is frequently in flux, fractured. Images are generally a slow burn, not immediately decipherable but always the provocation for the brushstrokes around and over them: cutouts of a Rockaway warehouse skylight ("Bug Boogie"), an auto-wrecking yard and a Mars Rover ("The History of the World"), reflections in a grocery store ("Upstream Sunrise"), a feather on the back step after a rain ("Featherweight"), a pile of cut paper on the studio floor ("Spiral Shelter"), bottles pouring frozen beer into an urban hedge ("Down Pour"), endangered birds and magazines ("Endangered Species").
The "Pandemic Cemetery" series originated during the COVID-19 lockdown. I live in walking distance of Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, and drawing there with another painter, masked and distanced, created a sense of space in a compressed situation. Pencils, colored pencils, chalk, pastels, inks, china markers, crayons, charcoal—the contents of all the coffee cans in my studio came into play. Layered with the feeling of freedom came ideas that resonate, of memory, death, history, legacy. Of how we will look back on this time, and how it will change us.
The works on tracing paper explore hybrids of form and material, sometimes using both sides of the vellum to exploit its transparency and the response of the crunchy paper to the mediums. The individual parts, including found objects and varieties of mixed media, reassemble into a more fantastical form.
The “Books” series has woven through my studio life over the years, reflecting my attraction to found materials as well as thoughts about the book as record. The pieces have become something of a journal—fired clay from my work in a Philadelphia clay studio, scrap wood collected during my days of scrounging around the not-yet-gentrified Lower East Side, found objects from the NYC streets. My ongoing immersion in collage and mixed media finds its most solid expression in these pieces. Many of the titles play with my affection for years of paperbacks I cannot part with.
“The Corpses” is an ongoing collaborative collage series with poet Ian Ganassi, who I met when we were artists in residence at the Millay Colony. The series is a convergence of text, drawing, painting, and found objects, which we've been mailing back and forth between NYC and New Haven, Connecticut, since 2005. To date there are more than 300 finished pieces, with work-in-progress often in transit. (Website link in categories list.)
It's all material. Working in the studio in tandem with pre-existing images and found objects transforms the world into material. Always in view—no matter the media—is that click of significance, when some thing becomes something entirely else: Richard Dreyfuss shaping mashed potatoes in Close Encounters, insisting, “This means something.”