THE HOME DEPOT COLLECTION


Pressboard is to wood what ground beef is to food.  Wood chips and
shavings of all shapes and sizes are bound together indiscriminately by
some kind of glue, forming lightweight, inexpensive panels of various
sizes and uses.  It's everywhere, which makes it hard to see - as an
aesthetic object, that is.  But if you color in the pieces, staying carefully
within the lines as you did when you were a child at work in your coloring
books, you can arrive at something like my
Tropical Tryptich which you'll
find at the top of this page.  

What draws me to this work is the way it falls between conventional
categories.  It's neither purely aleatoric nor wholly determined by the
artist.  Rather can we see a kind of compromise between Chance and
Choice: I accept the form of the wood chips but determine the placement
of colors.  

And in choosing those colors I'm able to suggest, ever so slightly, a
representational form lurking behind the abstract design, and with it, to
imply a shallow depth beyond the two dimensional surface.  In this
endeavor, words, as in titles, can provoke a new way of seeing.  So look
again at the three works at the top of the page, while imagining, from left
to right,
Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Beside the triptych is a bright rectangle which, like the pressboard, I
purchased on the cheap at Home Depot.  But this one's organic: the
grainy lines, now dark, now light, have grown with the life of the tree.  Is
that perhaps why, in outlining that pattern, something like a jumble of
ritualistic masks materialized before me?  When you turn it upside down
the frowns turn to smiles.  Thus do the meanings of  myth continue to
provoke and confuse us!

Working with such material, eventually I realized that the rectangular form
in which these images are enclosed is thoughtlessly derived from the
model of the canvas,and that this is no longer the only possibility.  From
that revelation came the tall and slender pieces above.  These two are
actually flip sides of the same block of wood, so what we have here is
reversible: you lean it against your wall and turn it around when you get
tired of it.  As you can see, one of the images comes from following the
organic lines, while the other is a design I made up, yearning as I was at
that moment for escape from endless squiggles, desiring as I did at that
time some straight lines and angles.  (The nice little painting I've included
alongside is actually the work of my good friend, Skinny the Elephant.)

But if you can turn it around then is this painting or is this sculpture?  It is
both, of course, and neither: it falls between the cracks of existing
categories.  

The next image you see is round, and probably intended, by the crew at
Home Depot, to serve as a tabletop.  And why not effect another  
compromise, this time between the practical demands of lunches and
brunches and the artistic impulse to decorate?  Can an aesthetic object
be more lovely for being understated, for cloaking its beauty in
utilitarianism?  From a compositional standpoint this tabletop also
represents a compromise:  the horizontal slats of wood are so many
chips glued together in the manner of pressboard, but each chip, being
larger than usual, possesses unique, organic squiggles that I've traced
and filled with color.  

And speaking of Skinny the Elephant, there he is, toward the bottom,
with his alter ego.  These are painted driftwood (as is the image between
them).  The one on the left is called
Evolution and the one on the right,
The Consolation of Philoshophy.