Odds & Ends

Random Studio Image

The top of my easel: the silk scarves are khatas; given by Tibetans to each other as a greeting, during ceremonies, or as farewell gifts. During my stay at the monasteries in India, I accumulated a whole pile. As a general rule they're continually passed on, and I'll probably just give most of them to the local Buddhist center. These two, however, were gifts from monks who were special to me, so they get the place of honor in my studio.

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My Fragments project feels like it's off to a good solid start, with 5 pieces done this week (counting last friday). So far, it's been a lot of fun working on them. I'm also looking at the series as a place where I can be a little freer to experiment; I've already tried a few new things, and have a list of other things I'd like to try in the near future.

Not to overstate the obvious, but, obviously, this is dipping my toes back into the painting-a-day pool. I'm not going to explicitly call it that for a lot of reasons; not of least of which is that I don't want to feel obligated (I have some mixed feelings about the painting-a-day concept, which I might share at some point in the future).

Also obvious, this is a great time to have some small, accessible paintings available. Even cheerless economic data won't by itself diminish people's desire for good art, though it might make them a little cautious about larger work. I certainly want to have paintings available that people will enjoy, and can feel good about collecting.

Speaking of economic data... In an email exchange with my friend Skott, I made an off-hand remark of the return of WPA-style murals. It did get me thinking... will the current economic situation and the talk of an enormous infrastructure initiative - basically WPA redux - also include public art?

I grew up in a small midwestern city with WPA murals in the post office. Unfortunately I couldn't find any online pics, but as I remember them, they were sort of knock-offs of the great Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. They may not have been the best, but there weren't too many other opportunities to see original art in person on a regular basis. It it was actually kind of important for me to be able to see them; going to the post office was something more than just an excruciating wait... it was also a little bit of education.

By contrast, the public buildings where I live now are sleek, clean, efficient... and mind-numbing. They could use a few murals for the kids to look at while mom argues about the water bill...

"One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat"
-Vincent Scully, comparing the old Penn Station with the new