Building and Unbuilding the Globe

I met Judy Peres and David Hozza late 2008. I was planning a large project involving The Globe Elevator in Superior, Wisconsin when I learned that it was being dismantled for its timber. Judy and David were heading that project up. They very graciously allowed me to tour the century-plus year-old structures, taking hundreds of photographs and collecting information, and through our mutual love of these structures we soon became friends.

Here they are in front of the 20 foot, 9-panel Building and Unbuilding the Globe at a gallery here in Eau Claire one year ago.

Globe
Judy Peres and David Hozza.

Winter

A detail of a miniature from last winter. The structure at left is a combination of three different facades, and designs of my own making, but based largely on an abandoned (now demolished) high school in Detroit. At right are embedded and ignited match heads and are based on pilings. They have become shorthand for violence and appear in many of my paintings.

I often pair the painted structure with an ‘actual’ structure. This creates for me an immediacy throughout the creative process, and shifts my attention to now, responding to a real thing as opposed to a remote, imagined or remembered thing. This proximity makes the work far more urgent and direct, and removes much of what had been heretofore hazy or nostalgic. It has sharpened my focus and clarified my intent. Perhaps more importantly, this act has reoriented my perspective so that I no longer think of painting as painting, but as building, so that the painted structure is now a thing unto itself, competing for its own existence alongside the burned, wooden structure. This conceptual shift in perspective has played out on the panel in literal ways as well, as the facade sits face-forward as though in a portrait while the ‘pilings’ at right are in my mind viewed from above.

IMG_3122
Winter, 2014 – Oil, matches, wood, papers on hardboard, ~10″x14″

 

New Work

This was made entirely from fireworks my son made. I’ll spend much of the winter developing this work. I’ve already began building a cathedral along the diagonal line at the lower left. This will be a months-long combat.

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Explosives on panels, ~4’x2′.

Materials and Intent

Materials should lend themselves to the conceptual framework of the work at hand. The basic question “Why am I painting this?” is central to understanding what it is I’m doing. If what I’m saying is better said with another material, I don’t argue with that.

Intent is paramount. There’s nothing haphazard or random in this process. All sorts of factors must align and find cohesion within this framework. Uncertainty is always present, but it’s through the winnowing process of self-honesty and devotion to what specifically I’m trying to say that something new and strong emerges.

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Detail of Lodz, 12″x12″ on canvas.
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Detail of In Broad Daylight, 12″x12″ on canvas.
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Detail of In Broad Daylight, 12″x12″ on canvas. 

In Broad Daylight

Developing the small painting In Broad Daylight, 12″x12″. Oil, aluminum, wood, linoleum, industrial paint, cloth & resistors.

This work, along with other miniatures on which I currently work deal with atrocities and personal anxiety.

In Broad Daylight
Developing the small painting In Broad Daylight, 12″x12″ on canvas.
In Broad Daylight, detail
Detail of In Broad Daylight, 12″x12″ on canvas. 

Łódź

Detail of Łódź, a small painting (12″x12″) based on a large abandoned pier I once saw jutting out into the water. Łódź means ‘boat’ in Polish, and is the name of a Polish city in which the Łódź Ghetto had been established following the 1939 invasion. This pier, the rotting brick building, and a boat which will never come has resulted from the stories I’ve read of Łódź during WW2.

Lodz, detail
Detail of Lodz.

 

Wisconsin Public Television Feature

WPT did a nice story on me for their series called Wisconsin Life

 http://video.wpt.org/video/2365438248/ 

 Here’s a recent Wisconsin Public Radio (Spectrum West) interview as well: 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7excbpiq5d6hy50/Interview.mp3?dl=0