Its almost 3 am on a Saturday late night/early morning. On Vermont and Franklin, there are no sounds but the random hum of the 180 Lake bus roaring by the normally busy road. The nights are beginning to cool on LA’s scorchingly hot Indian Pacific Summer, while the marine layer grows thicker whispers of fog against the streets.
My head is full. Tipping and spilling at the brim of my cranium with shapes and words. While I want to sleep, I wake up with ideas. I’ve been doing this for the past year with the project at hand. I’ll sleep around 11:00pm, and like clockwork at 2:30am, my mind opens up like its late morning with adrenaline fueled mental symposium. Lately its been about this one painting I saw back in New York a few weeks ago. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since the day I ran into it.
Mainly because it was the first piece I saw where I heard actual SOUND in my head. Mind you, I am easily moved by art and objects. Especially anything Abstract Expressionist. I’m a sucker for geometric chaos and asymmetrical executions in art. Primarily I’m envious of the artist’s ability to let go of balance while maintaining perfect structure. In order for me to create something geometric, it has to balance on all sides. I have this need for order.. and its ridiculous up to the 1/16th of an inch.
It, for some reason, makes me feel safe.
So you can imagine that when trying to emulate a piece of Abstract Expressionism in my 10x10x10 project, specifically the sub movement “Indian Space Painting”, and EVEN MORE specifically “Steve Wheeler” as a reference point. .. that my ability to ‘let go’ was .. next to impossible.
For the past few days I have been staring at a blank canvas. A lightly resketched Mickey head laid at my drafting table. I literally spent an entire day looking at the canvas, getting up, walking around it, and coming back to the table. I eventually grabbed the canvas, and walked around Los Feliz with it. I took it into BRU coffee house in the afternoon, the park down the street in the evening, and even the “House of Pies” Diner at 1am. Nothing changed, and my head was blocked. The next day I was beyond frustrated, and ended up walking over to the AKBAR to see my friend Deven Green play her ukelele.
Deven has this incredible ability to transform a song, from 90’s hardcore rap to obnoxious bubblegum pop, and turn it into a soulful ballad chocked full with juxtaposed humor. While you are seemingly mesmerized by her soulful wailing, you are also laughing hysterically over her renditions of the music. I sat there on the barstool, slighting askew in my head from being in a bar, since those social microcosms tend to make me a bit nervous. Once she started singing however, nothing else in the bar existed. The room suddenly seemed to go away, and no one else existed but Deven and her voice. She started singing songs from the 1930’s and 1940’s, and the warm lights from the place transported me into another time. I was far far away from Los Angeles…. I was far far away from 2012.
The songs she sang were relatively close in time and nature to the artists that I was studying. I started thinking about the sounds that were emanating from Steve Wheeler’s works, the sound of rotating large frames of metal, hunting rifles, and woodwind sounds. I suddenly started connecting the dots. Deven was reinterpreting music from all different points of times and genres, and fueling it into her own voice, therefore giving homage through reinterpretation.
The music was different, but the words were the same.
And while connecting this to my own idea of Steve Wheeler for the project seems, at best, mildly elementary and at surface for discovery… for some reason I didn’t connect the idea at all until seeing her. After the show and dinner with her and David Marvel, I ran home as fast as I could, my brain swelling with ideas.. I would create the same thing…
The painting would be different, but the intentions would be the same… except in my own time and frame of mind.
I’ve been working on this piece for the past few days, and in no way shape or form is it nearly completed. I have a feeling I will be taking this to New York City with me this week, as I want to complete and work on as many pieces as I can .. as far away from my studio as possible. I’m not sure why, but it just seems more special to me that way. In a perfect world, all I would do is carry canvas all over the world and paint specific pieces in those places with the stories attached. For now, however, this will do.
(Deven Green is playing at the AKBAR all month, every Thursday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.)