When I began this journey, this blog, it was with the intention to have a place to house my experiments and explorations in a more “sacred” or perhaps spiritually aware, form of art. And to that end, it has been a very successful undertaking for me. Looking back across the now, 102 posts that make up SS, I can smile at the growth that’s taken place in the art, and I can marvel at the changes of direction it has taken.
I have been a visual artist for a long time. Since I was a boy really. I always loved to draw, to color, to create. I was an only child and so, in my sibling-less existence, I learned to entertain myself with making stuff. I guess, I’ve always been a “stuffist”.
I got away from it to a large degree for a long time as I pursued the far glitzier and headier world of rock and roll music.And although my talents in that arena were not of greatness, I did have a knack and a vision for creating. Rock and roll was exciting to me as I loved music, loved the raw rush of it. Playing live was the perfect fix for an adrenaline junkie.
But ultimately after many long years at music, in which I would occasionally dabble with music related art, I returned to the visual. Not in any scholarly way, but in a very “outsider” art kind of way. I was feeling quite driven to create. I had recently become separated from my wife and the mother of my then, four year old son, and I had entered into a phase of my life I likened to a spiritual retreat in many ways.
I began reading as much “new age” and “old age” literature as I could. From books on chakras and crystal healing to the poems and thoughts of the Sufi poet and writer Rumi and everything in between. I meditated as best I could. I went in search of my spirit guides. And I began to feel an overwhelming urge to create.
And I began painting everything that I could. Dressers, chairs, canvases, cardboard, nick knacks… anything. And I predominately painted everything some shade of blue with the occasional influx of the green family. In retrospect, I suppose I was exploring and opening to my new “voice” or method of creation.
And I discovered the joy of allowing randomness and synchronicity into the process. Quite spur of the moment, I stopped at one of those hardware “superstore” of the mid to late nineties, that happened to be going out of business. Everything was on sale. I wandered into the spray paint aisle, and filled my cart with nearly 60 cans of spray paint. I had no idea what i was going to paint on, much less paint of, but it didn’t matter. I looked around the store and found boxes of red/orange unglazed adobe tiles and they too were cheap. I bought 6 cases of 24 tiles each.
Later that night I began my first journey into the random in art. I arranged 48 of the tiles out on cardboard in the backyard. I grabbed several cans and uncapped them. Dusk was beginning it’s descent on my part of the world. I started “blasting”… spraying the various paints onto the tiles. Tentative at first, but soon with Pollock abandon. I began really getting the tiles wet and soaked with multi-colors. And I noticed in the setting sun the way those paints and colors bled and infused and interacted with one another. And it was pretty cool.
And I switched on the porch light and kept blasting as darkness enveloped the yard. Yes, there was an immense cloud of spray paint molecules and “dust” floating in the summer night air. I was probably a little stoned from it. And this was at a time in my life when I refused the false comforts of alcohol, drugs and women. I was determined to allow myself to feel the pain and grow as a person. I think it worked. Others may disagree.
As I was blasting I realized that the I really couldn’t see the tiles towards the back of the yard, couldn’t see what was happening on them. How was the paint interacting? I went and turned the porch light off and stood in the near total darkness of the back yard. I decided to keep spraying, keep blasting away at the tiles. So I did. I eventually got quite tired and went in to sleep.
What I awoke to in the backyard seemed miraculous and quite amazing. There were stunning tiles with the most incredible patterns and color interactions on them. Not all were amazing, but my god, it seemed as if a full half of them were stunning and the other half split between really good and pretty cool. It was my introduction into allowing randomness, and the creative energy into my work.
Shortly thereafter, I enrolled myself in a community college and proceeded to take every art class, save for painting, that I could. And my approach was always the same. I would attempt to do things the “right” way, as taught and instructed, but I would always look for the gaps, the opportunities to use the old tools in a new, unintended way. The closest I came to finding the joy of the randomness of blasting was in exploring pottery, especially Raku pottery. The fire of the kiln, the chemical mixture of the glaze, the type of clay all came together to create something outside my expectations.
I went on to attend the School Of The Art Institute of Chicago. A big time “art” school. I was much older than the vast majority of my classmates and I reveled in all that was available there. The encouragement to explore. And explore I did. Only this time it was predominately through photography and the computer. Photoshop became my play ground and the scanner my dearest ally. I purchased a high end pro-sumer digital camera that packed a whopping 2.1 megapixels. I went crazy taking pictures and making art.
I pushed against the boundaries of the technology, devising work around’s for the small amount of memory and capacity that was the norm back then in pre turn-of-the-century computer world. But the limitations fed the art, forcing me to expand and explore and create something new. Influenced by the Polaroid collages of David Hockney and the high Cubism of Picasso and Braque, I played with large scale compositions developed from 6″x6″ squares. I incorporated classic pop art and pre-pop paintings with photographs and commercialism of the day. It was a heady time.
But by late 2006 I wasn’t creating with any regularity whatsoever. The fire seemed to have burned out. A grinding, but well paying job in graphic design seemed to suck my desire for making art out of me. In essence, looking back, I was lost. Passionless in my existence. I made no art and I had no drive to do so. I was not involved in any kind of relationship beyond a handful of friends. I was working what had become, a soul less job. Fuck, I was a wreck of a man.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I returned to meditation, or more accurately, a simple prayer. I would ask the energy, the universe, god, for passion. Just passion. And the Universe delivered as she always seems to do. And for me, yes, god, the universe, the energy, is most distinctly feminine, it always has been.
And as a multi-year path to ever increasing amounts of passion progressed, I found myself making art again. And I found, or perhaps re-found, my soul’s true mate, my beloved Zengirl. And through Zengirl, I found the I Ching and the beginning of this journey.
From the early work with the I Ching, the work changed and progressed into the metallic robot style and from there it moved further afield with experimentation and new explorations. And then, I found myself at full circle, spray can in my hand, sheet of found metal my canvas. And I started blasting again. Embracing the randomness of that process. The first results informed new I Ching art, but also pointed the way to something outside that. The squares of the hexagrams I so loved gave way to pure paintings which lead into manipulation of photos inside the computer which lead to really interesting things. Hidden things, random things. And the feeling the gave me was one of sacredness. Spiritually charged in many of them. They were doorways, windows to something else. Something that wasn’t obvious, something that lay hidden in the paint until it went through the process. And then it seemed to reveal itself.
What I found, especially in the axises of the works, were faces, symbols, figures, animals, all feeling ancient ans many quite mystical. Hieroglyphics appeared. It was all outside my control. Yes, I blasted it, photographed it in varying ways and applied manipulation to the color and composition, but what came out was the result of the randomness in the process. The way the petrochemicals reacted to one another, the temperature, the elements.
And that randomness produced small and sometimes large, visions of the mystic. The work has an energy in the best pieces. Actually in nearly all, but the best pieces vibrate. They have something glowing in them. And I believe that is the great creative energy of the universe, for me, the little goddess, my co-creative in these works. My partner in exploration. I have believed for a long time that the Little Goddess, the great energy, truly loves it when humans are being creative in any and all ways. It is the nature of the energy to create anew. To rebirth the atoms exploded as the result of supernovas in the shape of humans, animals, plants, hell, everything. So why, given the opportunity, wouldn’t the energy, the universe, come out to play?
And all this leads to the latest projects that are forming here at Sacred Square, one, The Divination Project, involves video and will be released into the world most likely at some time in August. The other is the Conscious Life Experiment, which will begin this coming Sunday. If you’d like to know more about that, you can click on the link at the top of the page. Both of these projects are about raising awareness and consciousness, but also about discovering the mystic, perhaps the divine that lies at the heart and axises of all creative ventures. It’s just a matter of getting ourselves engaged and yet out of the way.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, you really do deserve a little art…. Here’s a pairing based off the same original piece. See how the work changes, how the mystic and perhaps sacred energy emerges in each variation….
First up… “All Tribes”…
And here is it’s counter part, “Ancestral Voices”…
Notice the changes that occur along the North/South and East/West axises. That’s where the Universe plays, that’s the gap that the Little Goddess fills. At least that’s how it works for me.
As always your comments, thoughts, opinions and mad ramblings are appreciated, respected and muchly wanted by the staff of hard working sled dogs here at The Square. So please, share those thoughts….
Yours in exploring the creative,
P.S. To my most ethereal girl…. Thank you so very much. I love you baby.