Monday, March 28, 2011

Muddy Just One More Time

This series within a series was a little unusual for me. Generally I don't do subjects that are so intimate, and I almost never revisit a subject after I've painted it once. I usually get it out of my system and move on. However, this time I was moved by what I saw in that canal in Lyndenhurst on that Sunday afternoon last May. I was disturbed and intrigued and there was no doubt that I had to communicate what I was witnessing. Imagine you're canoeing down a lazy creek through a tall meadow. It's muddy and buggy, but that's what you'd expect from a swamp. Suddenly you notice that the banks of the creek are not just mud but garbage. And its not just the banks. The whole expanse of marsh through which this creek passes is entirely founded on garbage. It's piled more than 3 feet high above the water line, and no telling how far below it goes. It's entirely conceivable that the creek bed below your boat is also a bed of civilizations's waste. It's pure human degradation. Our species is permanently fouling the landscape with its toxic byproducts and letting foxtails grow on it hoping no one would ever notice. Only a few people ever do and the vast majority of those who don't either wouldn't care or would be unable to appreciate the severity of what they were seeing. This is the result of our way of life. Surely the planet will survive, but who will possibly be able to live on it.

Muddy Little Secrets III, 30" x 48", oil on canvas, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Muddy Little Secrets III In The Can

I'm calling this one. Sometimes you glide into the finish, a whole lap ahead of the field. I'll post the high-res "official" photo after I shoot it. It's 10:59 on a Thursday night in a week when I wasn't sure if I was going to get in front of this thing. Maybe Sat AM the light in the backyard will be just right for taking this, although there isn't nearly as much glare as some of the last ones. I gotta get to bed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still Muddy

I really need to get this painting done so I can get started on the next one and still be able to make my Halloween deadline. I'm calling my latest plan the "Halloween Massacre."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Five Miles at The Mat

This coming fall I'll be shopping around the first few paintings for this project in the local Philadelphia galleries. There may be some new places, but mostly I'll try again at all one or more galleries that turned me down in the past. The work is different this time, more expressive, more intimate subjects and more focused in terms of subject matter. Maybe something will break, we'll see.

In addition to trying to sell it to galleries, I'll most certainly be wanting to show FMFTS works at the 10th Street Laundromat in South Philadelphia, so long as they would have me and promise to have a DJ as good as the one they had this past saturday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Next Painting

It's gonna be this image. 21_4A.jpg. I wish I had something more profound to say about it but I don't. I just finished working for an hour I managed to squeeze in and I'm just to damn tired.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Muddy 3

Muddy Little Secrets #3 is about 80% done. After that I move on to something other than the cross-section-land-made-of-garbage motif.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nobody Reads This Blog

And now I know why. It's because I have not behaved like a leader. My thoughts and words and images fail to inspire. So says cartoonist Hugh MacLeod. He offers some ideas to a subset of bloggers who, blinded by their own feelings of self-importance, completely miss the point of blogging.

In reality, I don't think they apply to me entirely. I have gone where few have gone before, into an inhospitable wetland (The New Jersey Meadowlands) that is the unfortunate victim of public misconceptions and stereotypes because of rumors, anecdotes and folklore fueled by a hefty dose of the brutality of human misbehavior (pollution, unchecked sprawl and development, etc). I have returned from the poisoned and ravaged swamps with stories and images intended to educate and entertain. But does anyone care?

Well, yes and no.

The biggest problem I have as an artist, and something I'll have to deal with forever, is my body of work. It's exactly what has been holding back my success all along. It's a tough thing to admit, that your work is your worst asset, but it's true. Now don't get me wrong, I stand behind my work. I stand behind the work I've done on this Meadowlands project. Lots of people love what I do and are impressed with my skill level and the emotional charge that I put into an image. It's just an unfortunate fact that my work is a really tough sell to the segment of the population who has money to spend on paintings.

So what about this blog? If you're reading this than you have been sold. The difficulty with this blog is that it doesn't exactly spellbind many other pairs of eyeballs. Am I really that bad of a writer? I generally think of my writing as being somewhat captivating, and I have been praised for my eloquence and passion. So where is everybody?

The problem is the sell. And I don't mean the actual dollar sale where somebody hands me an envelope of cash for a painting, which, as I've already noted is something that I struggle with. I mean that I have not successfully convinced enough people to spend some of their valuable time reading what I have to say. It's hard to sell a subject, and I'm referring to The Meadowlands here, that has become what it has become because of a lack of interest by the public.

It's a downward spiral. If people cared about The Meadowlands, they would be a pristine, thriving ecosystem instead of a polluted wasteland, and therefore would not have captured my imagination as subject matter for paintings. And thus it's hard to interest people to stop what their doing and read the accounts of an unknown artist who has taken such a place and made it the focal point of his work.

And there's another problem. I have a day job in Philadelphia and I live just across the Delaware River in New Jersey. Philadelphia is a great city for artists, but I get the impression that a project on The New Jersey Meadowlands isn't really relevant around here. Add to that the fact that it's known as the home of the New York Giants, a professional football team that is vilified in this town. And anything from New Jersey can't help but be the butt of many jokes outside of the state. If I lived and worked in northern New Jersey, closer to The Meadowlands and New York City I might have more success. It really helps build your reputation if you live and work in a community and if what you do is something that the locals can relate to. No one in Philadelphia relates to The Meadowlands, but its what I've chosen to do. This project has become my calling, and I can't help but see this thing through. Like so many people who have come before me with grand ideas, I will either live or die in The Meadowlands.

This is not to say that it's impossible to generate interest in a piece of artistic work about the place. There are two great books that I used as research for this project, Fields of Sun and Grass by John R. Quinn, and The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures at the Edge of a City by Robert Sullivan. People bought these books and read them, and their authors are both very successful. So there's hope for this project, and for this blog.

And if you believe that, I've got some swampland in New Jersey to sell ya.