5 months since the last post. Still, we’re not ready to give up on this blog quite yet. Winter has come and gone. We harvested persimmons and watched the rain flood the river and turn the gully behind our house into a lagoon. Many of the missing insects are beginning to return, and the red-tailed hawks are hovering around their giant nest in one of the cottonwood trees outside our window. The lagoon is filled with ducks and geese. We took in a stray kitten named Popcorn, who is now a teenager.
We have been holed up, working this whole time. Yesterday we shipped out the bulk of the artwork for my third solo show with the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York. 2 crates and 2 large boxes, as well as a package of drawings that already went out earlier. It’s been a lot of long days and nights in isolation, but the feelings of accomplishment make it all worth it.
Monica has helped me every step of the way, from planning and problem solving, to being a patient and meticulous second pair of hands to help handle all the sewing, glueing, cutting, framing, varnishing, and hundreds of other tasks that go into putting a show like this together. Not to mention being a source of creative ideas, feedback, strength and support, and all the while feeding us both with some amazing meals along the way. With her help, I think this feels like the best show I’ve done so far. At the same time, we talk about our wedding plans, and my vision of our future together is swelling with hope and promise.
Her dad and godfather both jumped in to offer their expert carpentry skills to help with the framing and crate building. My mom has also been an enormous amount of support, financially and creatively, helping us survive during the tough time of putting thousands of hours towards something that does not pay for itself until much later, and then, only if we’re lucky. She also was inspiring by letting me sift through her collections of tiny treasures for pieces to use in my sculptures, and she lent her expert soldering skills and creative ideas towards helping me make some more interesting new air balloons.
We still have a lot left to finish. I am still working on many of the tiny and fragile sculptures that I will carry with me on the plane, and we have a lot of details to resolve with the large installation piece…and then there is the matter of compiling and editing through all of the photos (we worked with a wonderful local photographer, Jill Braaten), deciding on titles, getting all the information to the gallery, etc, etc.
So taking some time to write on this blog feels like a luxury. Usually, just before one of my shows opens, I am feeling so crazy and scattered I can hardly remember to send out an email or tell my friends about the show, even though it has been all I’ve thought about for months and months.But spending this much time in my head, building up these worlds in paintings, drawings and sculptures…feeling the love and support from my friends and loved ones…I feel like there has been a lot swimming around up there, and that maybe it would be good to write some of it out and share it.
Since the show opens in 10 days, I thought I’d start posting some of the images early, and sharing some of the stories that relate to the pieces. Usually when people ask me about the stories in my pieces, it’s really difficult for me to talk about. I don’t always have a clear idea of what the story is; it’s really more of a matter of creating a place for many stories to exist. Those stories could be from real memories, or my imagination, or something from my subconscious and I have no clue what it’s about. But I usually have a very specific feeling of a place I want to create; one where all those things can exist together.
Painting, drawing (and to some extent, sculpture) are ideal mediums for this kind of open-ended storytelling. They’re static, but can still be narrative. There is no inherent timeline, or beginning or end. There isn’t a system of words or pages or beats or frames to tell you where to go next. A painting can be the briefest snapshot or an epic saga. It can contain worlds within worlds that we can zoom in and explore endlessly. It can be all of those things at the same time. Each time you look at it, it can tell a different story. That’s what I love. Not so much creating a story, but a place where stories can exist.
Having said all that, with this show, I wanted to focus more on creating work that had a sense of inclusion. I have found myself in a place where I am prepared to spend the rest of my life with someone, so on a personal level, much of the work in this show is about opening up and inviting someone else in. But I also wanted to share the joy I feel, and the excitement of this adventure and all adventures, through the act of storytelling. So the show is titled “You Come Too”, which is taken from the poem “The Pasture,” by Robert Frost, which is pretty short, so I’ll post it here:
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the clear water, I may):
I shan’t be gone long – You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s too young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan’t be gone long – You come too.