Visualizing 2016 was fairly easy at the very end. Encouragement to visualize 2017 has yet to bring forth any strong image. Avoidance is probably the most appropriate feeling to name at this point.
The fear of purging, and letting go, defined the end of the last year. However if my mantra “trust in the waste stream” means anything, it means that you must put into the waste stream some things, in order to get back some others. As a dedicated waste farmer, I’ve harvested more than my share of the bounty, from chicken coops to rotten fence parts to interesting metal hoses to the lacy, beautiful structure that holds waste itself. The waste stream has been good to me.
It was an inner struggle to accept that one must give back; but in the end, the giving back was accomplished. Not just any waste receptacle, but the most holy All Saints Episcopal Dumpster received a high offering of my last eighteen years (plus) of labor in the studio. Everything from crampled little pencil sketches to western spirit houses to huge oil rigs are now flowing in the waste stream off to a far better place where they can be useful to others.
Art criticism is a dwindling breed of scatology with few practitioners, and perhaps even fewer readers. Picking apart the mostly dried-up matter excreted from art studios is an especially obscure form of scatology. One hopes to glean something about what the artist’s mind ingested and a bit about the artist’s locale and influences, much like deducing an animal’s diet, territory, and gut chemistry from its leavings. Seeds pass through an animal, and are nourished in its droppings to sprout. The artist ingests ideas and expresses them in a sculpture, painting, or other form of art, to blossom in a culture or age.
I spoke with a highly talented artist in his studio today. He revealed a bit about his process, which involves being careful about what to make art about to begin with. When he is painting or drawing, he does some editing along the way, especially towards the end.
It is this editing that is so important. The first principle is to hold your tongue. You don’t have to vocalize everything that comes into your head to begin with; but if you do, the process of filtering it so that what is stated is true and correct remains important, even in today’s facebook-twitter-going live world.
The second principle is to know what needs to be edited. The hundredweight of art that I removed from multiple studios required editing. Even if it didn’t, it is too late now and there is no time to look back.
This artist conceded that a couple of times he had been bewildered by what he had made, putting it in the bottom of the drawer and not pulling it out for a while. I thought about that and whether I was bewildered by what I had made. Much of it is fine work that I believe will stand the test of time, but much more was simply not. Removing it releases a burden from my back, the burden of having to portage them onward, and the further burden of owning up to them. If you want to look at them, go to the “art” tab and browse. Most of them are documented there.
I saved some of the better oil rigs, the bigger Thai scrolls, and a few odds and ends that I am still proud of. The microbooks, steampunk stuff, and many of the stentorian, scolding paintings are gone. No demi-chromaloids will make it to the next land. Fractal string sculptures in old desk drawers are now disappeared, except for the single one that was purchased and hangs (hopefully) on another artist’s wall.
Other advice this teacher gave: travel light. Good advice.
This is a bit of an ode to the lost art, but moreover it is a bit of an aria about the coming year as well. A lot of baggage has been released, not just my own. I experienced, just for a moment, an uplifting feeling related to this. The feeling passed but it will be back once again.
No clear picture of 2017 has yet formed. The year ended with uncertainty on a range of different scales. The four cylinders of the engine continue to fire; the direction of travel will become clear soon enough.