You Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine: A Collaboration

Marcus sends images to me. I send images to Marcus. Often the pairings are glorious.

Here are just a few… Marcus on the left, mine on the right. Click to enlarge.

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Ox-Bow as Self-Portrait

“As I reflect on this experience from the mitigating distance of years, I am staggered by the power it still holds within my heart. And by my heart I mean the seat of my emotions as well as that physical member within me. Perhaps this is because, as with all fantasies, I remember it in an idealized form. Yet even the least ideal aspects of the time hold a remarkable glow to me.”

“At the time, I saw that land – that Large Place – as a separate sphere, a space out of time, out of normalcy. It strikes me how, when I am able to recall it very clearly, my heart almost seizes within my chest as I briefly sense again the stinging joys that I felt there.”

“It was an exploration of myself, not simply a holiday from the reality I had always known. Sitting there on the shore of that ancient lake, gazing back west towards the big city that has since become my home, I marveled how it seemed that I was gazing across some chasm of time and space.”

“I was dislocated, thrown, out of my time into another, somehow timeless, yet time-full arena. I was looking backward and forward to that other shore of past experience and an unsure future. I could never be the same.”

“I could never be the same.”

“I could never be the same.”

“I could never be the same.”

All text: from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

All photos: Self-portraits taken between May 2001 and August 2001, in roughly chronological order.

Drawing: Matt (Hardass). Ink and Sharpie on paper, 11 by 14 inches, 2001, by Reid Thompson and unknown Ox-Bow Fellow (A.G.).

PS: Don’t smoke, kids.

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.

Two New Catalogs

I’ve recently collected some bodies of work into small catalog format. The Lamentations 3 Series, from 2009-2011, and shown recently at Gordon College in Massachusetts, is collected along with images of the copper plates in process, some installation shots, and an essay that I gave as a lecture at Gordon during the opening for my show there. Click the image below for more info.

The second book is a collection of some of the 100 or so Locus Series works that I created between 1999 and 2001. I present about 20 images along with a short essay I wrote in 2001 when I concluded the series. I also wrote another short contemplation this year to reflect on what the Locus Series has meant to me. Click the image below for more info.

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.

Inspiration – Sloane Snure Paullus

The first class I was a part of teaching at the University of Missouri included three grads – Nancy Brown, Ian Shelly, and Sloane Snure Paullus. These three – and a few others, like Catherine Armbrust, Eric Sweet, and Natalie Hellmann (among others) – have defined my experience as a teacher at MU.

Above: Sloane beading back in 2007.

Over the last year or so I’ve seen each of those first three grads finalize a body of work, refine and defend their thesis writing, organize their thesis exhibition, and move on to new things. This week saw Sloane and her husband move away from Columbia and into a new phase of their lives.

Above: Sloane and her peephole boxes, 2008.

For so long Sloane has been a cornerstone of the Art Department, bringing both intellectual excellence and paroxysms of mirth to each of us. She transformed the culture of the department, raising the bar and shaking things up. There’s really no one like her.

Above: Sloane hanging out with Ian at the Annual “Kinkade Christmas Cottage” viewing, 2009.

She was the perfect grad student; engaging as an artist, thoughtful as a friend, cosmopolitan in her views, expansive in her mentality, and distinctively creative in her sense of humor. I am thankful to have known her.

Above: Sloane Loves Britney! Halloween 2009.

Keep us all updated, Sloane! We love you!

Note: No lens flares were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Inspiration – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner has been a major presence in my life as a painter for many years. His grasp of overt and subtle visual dynamics is astounding, as is his dual ability to modulate fields of colors and negotiate edge quality. In many ways his works prefigure the Abstract Expressionists who were to follow him 40 or 50 years later.  The work below, Nicodemus Visiting Jesus by Night (1899, Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art) is one of his masterworks. You can read more about the image here, and click on it for a larger view.

To me, this work below is the painter’s absolute triumph:

Annunciation (1898, Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Click to expand.