Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mermaid and Sailor

Acrylic and collage on panel, 16" x 10.5".

The ocean is a builder. It swirls its minerals leafy vegetables and fish muscle together in a constantly accruing transformation.
Evolution starts us there.

Some yearn for safety and sameness,
and ensconce themselves on an island prison of fear.
Fear stops evolution. One must be brave to change.

The adventurous among us return to that place of transformation,
the ocean.
For Odysseus, the sailor, life was but a brief opportunity to seek understanding.
Perhaps he shortened his life, but he loved his life.

The lover inside us is our younger side, the dreamer.
That is the part of us that floats even boatless.
The heart of a lover is not a muscle but a lifejacket
that floats within the ribcage
and may send the sailor into the rocky shores of a mermaid's arms.

Evolution starts us there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Depraved Symbol of Establishment Bloat

Acrylic and collage on panel, 5.5" x 11".

I'm a recycler. I cull from everywhere.

In my collage process, I juxtapose raw images together along structural grids. I choose the images when they make me feel something, even though I may not know why. I then paint into the assemblage to transition the images together. While painting, I am reminded of incidents and feelings buried in my subconscious. I then figure out what I am saying, and eliminate elements that do not play into the story.

I had a big ol' car like this once. I used it as a symbol to show about myself until I realized that I did not like what it was saying, and I sold it for twice what I bought it for, after putting 35,000 miles on it.

This is a tiny component of a larger image I am building. I now realize that this symbol is wrong for the rest of that image, so as I write this, this image is being submerged beneath a layer of opaque white.

Eventually we all will be recycled. The universe is a wheel-gear.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Acrylic and ink over collage on masonite, 11" x 14".

A tribute to the Beatles, who 'turned me on.' I have been working on this piece for over a year; it started first as a simple pencil drawing, which I then inked, traced, layered with paint and then with collage. Then finally, last night, I painted into this composition for 5 hours, eliminating many things. "Beatledämmerung" is the change left over.

There are many hidden references secreted into this piece.

This image of The Beatles is based on the their film "Help!", which I believe was John Lennon's signal to the world of the band's impending disintegration - thus the reference to Richard Wagner's opera, "Götterdämmerung". Here, The Beatles have abandoned their cocoon-like business suits and are now emerging into the envelope of gases surrounding the earth. They are dissolving.

They are making their bodies into soil, so they can vanish but in fact never be gone.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Erin & Craig." Acrylic on wood, 36" x 48".

A woman named Erin commissioned this painting as a Christmas present for her and her husband. She invited me into her home and showed me the spot where it would hang. She had a dark windowless corner over her fireplace. I was talking to her for the first time and found her to be sunny, positive and reaching for the sun. So I extrapolated how her and her husband must tower over their two small children, aged 3 and 1. I placed their reaching growing yellow heads against the watery blue sky that is Portland. Erin said she liked the picture. I was glad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"The Man Behind the Bindi."

Watercolor over ink on paper, 12" x 9".

I call the Third Eye the Bindi.

This is a portrait of my friend Tony, who is blind, but who's third eye is incredibly insightful.

I actually saw it beaming from his forehead.

Wikipedia says: "The area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". According to followers of Hinduism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration."

Some sources say that in the ancient traditions of India and Nepal, only women can wear the bindi. I bend traditions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stephen Spyrit

Stephen Spyrit, Watercolor on paper, 12" x 9". 2010

My good friend Stephen Spyrit died yesterday, November 11, 2010. I met Steve in 1986, when I was adrift and feeling friendless. He welcomed me into his newly opened tavern, called the Stadium Inn, at 20th and West Burnside in Portland, Oregon. He gave me a job there. Stephen and I hosted a rollicking open mike night every Sunday, inviting all of the neighborhood denizens, young and old. We believed everybody deserved their say. It was a successful artistic endeavor, but a financial burden for Steve.

By the time the Stadium Inn closed down in 1988, Stephen had established himself as a poet and organizer in Portland's Underground Music scene. He started an experimental musical group called "Hitting Birth", which amazed and inspired thousands of creative people in Portland, playing for huge crowds in elaborate costumes, playing outrageou instruments like and electrified shopping cart. I believe this was primarily a vehicle for Steve's humanistic poetry.

Stephen was a great humanist. Steve knew and remembered hundreds and hundreds of people. He was politically outspoken, advocating for the common people. HE was almost always strong, positive - and humorous in his extemporaneous orations both on and off the microphone.

Stephen was a yoga teacher, and organic farmer, and a world traveller. He went to India several times in his quest for enlightenment and fellowship.

I did not see him for several years, but we rekindled our friendship in 2005. He encouraged my art way back in 1986, and continued to encourage my efforts for as long as he knew me. I will miss you, Steve.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marble Flag

I am inspired by poetry: strings of images and symbols. These strings may be used as stepping stones, leading one across a chaotic world into a place of some understanding.

I collect things. I surround myself with fragments of images, art materials and collage parts. My art is a string of thoughts I condense into one single composition.

When I collage I reach for whatever my eye catches, collect and move these pieces around until they please my eye, then glue them and paint them. Later I am often surprised by what the assemblage reveals, as if it is a strange map into the abyss of my emotions.

This piece started as a chunk of tile I found somewhere. It looked like a flag - a white field with blue lines. I restated what I saw.

I have always loved labels on bottles.