Visual perceptions fused in paint
hung on a wall, electrically illuminated.
No written or oral communication necessary.
They are visual stimulation,
a point of concentration
for those who can linger
in subtle transition
of atmosphere in quietude.
Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio I would often visit the Cleveland Museum of Art. While there, I was always drawn to the work of two particular artists, the spray painting of Jules Olitski and the soft atmospheric rectangles of Mark Rothko. Standing in front of their paintings, which contained no apparent imagery, instilled in me the concept of eliciting an emotional response through patient viewing. Then, as a young artist, I spent much time studying the paintings of Agnes Martin and Johannes Vermeer which are polar opposites in imagery but whose canvases both exude the visual sensation in paint of light and atmosphere. I was also fascinated by Op artists, especially the work of two Cleveland Institute of Art professors, Julian Stanczak and Richard Anuszkiewics. When viewed from a distance, their paintings appear to have beautiful blends of color, but up close those subtle blends of color are the optical affect created by hard- edged geometric shapes, each painted a slightly different color value.
Taking in all of these influences over the years, I began creating works that slowly reveal their visual nature as well as force viewers to question their perceptions as they interact spatially with the paintings. When viewed from a distance, my paintings have a luminous, atmospheric, soft optical effect obscuring surface details. When the viewer approaches the canvas for closer inspection, its phosphorescent effect retreats into the surface revealing the many subtle, intricate details that comprise the whole.
My commitment is to make artwork that runs counter to our culture’s addiction to constant technological chatter and flamboyant images that we have been conditioned to crave. I believe that as a society we are devolving to no longer value quiet time, quiet space and quiet mind. For me, creating meditative and challenging paintings to off-set today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking, app-saturated-mobile-deviced society is critical.
My gratification is in the process —the doing of it—in which every finished painting has a life and history of its own. Surfaces are built up using a variety of acrylic media, including iridescent and interference colors, applied in translucent, almost transparent layers. I often draw on the canvasses between paint applications using pastels, pencils and color pencils to affect the overall image and to shift color values. An electric sander is used to smooth out any build-up of texture and to bring forward colors and patterns obscured in previous layers. Each application of paint is lapped over the side of the canvas leaving a visual memory map for those who are willing to look around the ragged edges. In this way, I emphasize that the surface is an illusion of nothing more than paint. I see each finished painting as a metaphor for living, for as the Talking Heads questioned in their song, “Once in a Lifetime,” Well, how did I get here?