Another in the manifold series of paintings is completed. An infinitesimally small object spinning, frozen for a fraction of an instant. The forces around it appear as clouds simultaneously binding the particles together and pulling them apart.
I may come to consider this a ‘state of the art’ painting. State of the Art paintings are like a double bounce on a trampoline; when technique, execution, creativity and concept all happen in just the right way to create a master work. Few paintings achieve this level if the artist is being honest.
I ordered brushes last week, and I have felt frozen since waiting for them to arrive. I’m used to thinking about things one at a time; a very simplistic method. I wonder when that happened. If we recorded our conversations we would have content. I read the letters written between Vincent and Theo. It consists mostly of boring accounts of financial problems and daily life, but scattered throughout are the insights Van Gogh had about painting. What is meaningful happens one at a time amidst waiting.
After leaving the New York theater scene I eventually ended up in Seattle. By the nineties all I had left of Theater in me was a 50 character hangover and the idea that there was such a thing as a master artist. You know, a master artist, one to whom nothing matters but forwarding the state-of-the-art. A person who spends every erg of their available energy to change the nature of the system which contains them by mastering through performing as an operator of all aspects of that system. In Theater they talk about the master artist a lot but you somehow never get to meet one. Instead people who start somewhere doing something tend remain that way or if you prefer Physics say energy tends to be conserved.
In Seattle I was surrounded by artists from the University of Washington and the Cornish School. They did not seem to believe in the master artist. By and large they were religious about their art, preferring it not be questioned. I angered many by asking the meaning of art – not theirs in particular, just art in general. I was told repeatedly such things were ineffable and unknowable. I was taught to profit from art was to cheapen oneself. I was told art was therapy. I was told art was emotion. I was shown art as a way of life by a large, shifting group of university-educated self-loathing atheists.
if Art is like Science then it has universal foundations (truth, if you will) which underpin it and may be reliably demonstrated repeatedly. If Art is like Religion then it has belief which supports it but lacks universality because Religion is faith-based and therefore not subject to the rigors of experimental method. When I began to paint in Seattle it was my desire to answer for myself which of these two Children of Philosophy to which Art was most closely related. I am still working on my answer, but 20 years of painting and thinking experimentally has taught me that the question, “what is Art?” is not a foolish one, and only fools believe it so.
My art has been sputtering along fitfully for the last few months as my time and studio space have been swallowed by the banality of life under a contractor’s construction regime. It is noisy and confusing and cramped. Perfect for writing angry urban poetry (which I refuse to do) but a disastrous environment for a process-oriented oil-painter with a fine-tuned instrument of a studio now become half living room and half animal habitat.
Yet I have persevered from time to time in making art, finishing a layer of color on one of my current crop called “manifold paintings,” and completing the initial drawing for my aerial view of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. This will be the next in a series of paintings of structures in the park associated with the famous bridge. Today I hope to ignore the insistent hammering enough to wet my brushes again and feel like an artist for an hour.
Next time you hear from me here I shall hopefully have something to say. For now Hello and Goodbye.
I am Wolf of Wolfwerk in High Voltage Sunset, an aspirational gallery for hard-working art.