It was a record, that flaming consumer…

“And the fire was always there with us as well; its cast of gray ash strewn about as a memory of the night past. Here and there on the ground lay also the print of a known foot, the circumference of a bottle, the twisted remains of a cigarette butt. It was a record, that flaming consumer: constantly fed and ever needing more, never totally gone out.”

“The bricks keep it contained, except on those special, pagan nights. Over the years they have become fragile, having seen the fierce flames that flash for three months and then fade for nine many times. The dune now cradles the fire pit in its sandy palm; nature allows us to knead that surface and turn it over with toes and rakes for another day. All the while smoke signals the call over the waters and the trees…” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Images from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.

The Ox-Bow Studio

“Image-making in this place seemed axiomatic. You live to make. Or, at least, in living you make. Let us take the ninety-degree turn twice and go back to where we once were, shall we? It was fun, challenging, and worthy; the most worthy and real thing I did that summer. It is the most abiding thing I did, even now. Alas, all the rest is dust, chaff, and stubble – ‘which are burnt and which the wind drives away’ – though it all was so beautiful while strewn on the ash pile there. And we, like the old pagans, went down to color it and cover our nakedness with it.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Above: the studio I used during the Summer of 2001 while at Ox-Bow on a Fellowship Residency. Click for larger view.

Below: a sign one of my fellow Fellows left for me one day. I’ve saved it all these years. I have a feeling who left it on my chair that night, but was never sure. Click for larger view.

Into Dust

“Can I remember it only in some half-form? Can I remember it only as a chimera, made of memory and will and hope? Can I not recall it totally, fully, being in myself as I was? Does no one understand the fullness of the emptying time? Does no one sense it in themselves, that time when they lost the tether? Let it loose again, to feel that it is gone! Alone. This is the deep pit of sensing, where I know the contour of death and dying. Suspended above the abyss. Glory.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

“Look… an abyssal missive, a doctrine of smoke… ‘into dust.’

In the end I suppose that I wish for it, (and sometimes still seek it with nervous hope) that confusion. Sweet psychological instability – the wobbly legs of a newly drunken lad – here as the land curves away beneath me. I guess that, at times, the seeking is more interesting to me than the knowing. I’ve seen it here, right here on this land; is there self-loathing? What’s beneath the surface of us all? Did I see myself here for the first time, or was I just revealed anew, from a novel angle and in skewed light? The absolute beauty of being permissive, of stepping aside and watching oneself from the wings – it can’t be beat, though it stays with you in some way I can’t yet fully understand. I don’t think I ever will understand it. Watching others though – there’s the bittersweet fruit. The fallen human trembles and tumbles through life, and even at the lowest point renders to itself the most poetic, romanticized stroke.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Still falling
Breathless and on again
Inside today
Beside me today
A round broken in two
’til your eyes shed into dust
Like two strangers turning into dust
’til my hand shook the way I fear

I could possibly be fading
Or have something more to gain
I could feel myself growing colder
I could feel myself under your face
Under…your face

It was you
breathless and torn
I could feel my eyes turning into dust
And two strangers turning into dust
Turning into dust.

“Into Dust” by Mazzy Star

All images above are from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ten Years On

I graduated from SAIC nearly 10 years ago, and I’ve got a lot of memories from there. At first, right after I graduated, I was pretty negative about my experience. I felt as if they’d denied me some aspect of my education necessary to my future, that they’d tried to indoctrinate me, that they’d treated me like a number, not an artist.

In ways I was right, but in a lot of ways I was wrong. I’ve since gotten over it and look back with fondness, thankful that I grew so much during those years. One of the ways in which I grew was in my attention to the things that drew my eye. I began to document heavily, shooting thousands of photographs in the last couple years of my undergraduate career. Below I’ve posted some of those images. These are all from SAIC hallways and environs circa 1999/2000. I was obsessed with the angles, passages of light, and transitioning spaces in the places I saw every day.

Above, looking through the peep hole of my dorm door, 112 South Michigan Ave, 9th floor. This space no longer exists. Below, the elevator I took so many times.

Dead birds (they constantly flew headlong into the bank of windows on that facade, then fell, in droves, into the water below), dead leaves, and my shadow in a pool outside the lake side of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Two stairwell views on the way to the Advanced Painting studios (above and below).

Another stairwell view, light on the landing.

Glass and light, looking up toward the Advanced Painting studios.

Sunlight glances through the shades of my 13th floor (the smoking floor) dorm at 162 North State Street.

Lutz Art, Ox-Bow 2001

general_lutzart_onthewigglerIn 2001 I had a 3 month Fellowship Residency at Ox-Bow, a summer program associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

We did a lot of stuff there, made a lot of art, raised a lot of hell, ate a lot of food, etc, etc, etc, but we also made Lutz Art.

My understanding is that the Lutz no longer exists… so here’s to the Lutz and the art we made there that summer so long ago.

Skippy loves the beef!

For more on Ox-Bow, go here.

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