Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Portrait of the Artist
Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along he road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. James Joyce begins his autobiographical novel The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with this recount of a childhood experience. From there, the complexity of the writing style grows, mirroring the intellectual and artistic development of Joyce as a writer.
Digging through a moldy box of old photographs last night, I unearthed bits and pieces of my own artistic development. From a daily journal to postcards, I gleaned moments of my early and awkward attempts as self expression until a more reasonably formed image of myself began to emerge. The top photograph taken by none other than Louise Millmann is of my box of oil paints in 1984. I swear I still have some of those paints in the back of my supply cupboard, including that cigar box. When it comes to paint, I border on a Depression-era mentality of squeezing out every last drop of precious pigment. In those days, I painted much larger than today, with raw energy and few concerns about storage space. Today's paint box isn't as messy or charming, and the paintings are smaller and more refined, making the contrast quite revealing.
Another relic I discovered is this invitation to a Ray Johnson 'nothing' at the Hecksher Museum in Huntington, NY in 1987. Johnson, who combined a childlike awe of commonplace things like a xerox machine with a complex association of obscure artistic references, married the sacred and the profane in a world where sometimes it was hard to determine which was which. How influential it was for me in my own development to meet a person who could turn his life into a creative performance.