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.
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.
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.