The exuberant weed cracking the sidewalk, the fantastical profusion and power of the wild world, chaotic landscapes born of our increasingly extreme face-offs with nature—our unions and collisions are explosive, fracturing. Yet there is beauty in it. Nature is an indifferent witness to our history and our issues, reclaiming ground without malice.
I most often work with collaged images as grounds: laser prints, photos I take or find, cutouts from magazines, calendars, and books. I might bury them, but I feel their call-and-response with the paint and the alchemy that happens there. The picture plane is often in flux, the images may be a slow burn, but they are always the provocation for the brushstrokes around and over them: leaves and vines through a Rockaway warehouse skylight ("Radiant Breach), receding banks of blossoms at the New York Botanical Gardens (“Chaos Bouquet”), the landscape of a Bronx cemetery (“A New Equilibrium”), an upside-down New England harbor (“Harbor Flip”), fractured landscapes accidentally pocket-shot and raindrops on a feather (“A Weed Can Crack the Sidewalk”), a moss-covered tabletop in sun and shadow (“Shine On”).
The "Pandemic Cemetery" series began during the Covid-19 lockdown. I live within walking distance of Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, and going there to draw with another painter, masked and distanced, created a sense of freedom in a compressed situation. Pencils, colored pencils, charcoal, pastels, ink, markers, crayons—the contents of all the coffee cans in my studio came into play, along with ideas about memory, life, and death. How we will look back on that time, and how it will change us.
“The Corpses” is an ongoing collaborative collage/assemblage 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, mixed media, and found objects that 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.)
The “Books” series has wound through my studio life, reflecting my attraction to found materials and thoughts about the book as record. The pieces have become something of a journal—fired clay from a Philadelphia clay studio, scrap wood collected while 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.
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.”