Black Faun Gallery, Unseen Works, October 2017
While brushing my teeth in front of my black Cabinet and looking over the works to be exhibited here, I was surprised to notice for the first time that over the years they seemed to have taken on certain historical connotations. Although the paintings are figurative, my brushwork showed traits of abstract expressionism, the art movement that flourished at the time. I liked to smear, splatter, drag and drip (which is fun to do with oil paint), as in the portrait of Stravinsky. Acrylic didn't come into wide use until around the mid-60s when I went to Japan to attend the National University of Fine Arts in Tokyo with a Japanese government scholarship. There oil was still the rule, so I continued in that medium.
Before leaving the US, I taught art in the Bay Area, and one New Year's eve I went to the UC Berkeley Chinese Student Association dance, sketchbook in hand. I drew the dancers, and my paintings Dance and Dance II resulted. Do people still dance that way?
The Call is purely imaginary, and the disjointed bodily parts are intentional. How else could you get all into the same painting a snaking white tube that sprays water, turns into a wing shape, wraps around a telephone receiver and connects to a bag of hair? Aren't corded receivers almost extinct now? But the receiver shape is still used as an icon on cell phone buttons. How much longer will this symbol last?
A Black Dog crossing the street in front of a gas station: it was only a scene glimpsed through a bus window, but it stayed with me. So later I painted it from memory. Could the white columns lined up as a gas station portico be our modern vestige of ancient Greek and Roman temples? Now the resident deities are gasoline pumps. By the end of this century gas stations may be nothing more than a historical memory.
I liked to draw animals in zoos - Bronx, Oakland, San Francisco - especially the cats, big or little. Tigers paced their cages in a fixed set of movements, but the longest pose was when they feasted on a hunk of raw meat. In Tiger Dream I added a human to the victuals. Whose dream is it, the woman's or the tigers?
In Japan I was impressed by the bold and brightly colored ads spread across city buildings, and the huge posters above movie theater marquees. Wouldn't a big pink billboard with attractive models advertising Insecticide (殺虫剤) appeal irresistibly to the general public?
Verbalism is a one-man art movement initiated by Orr Marshall somewhat facetiously, although it turned out to be more wide-reaching than expected. As declared in the Manifesto, the basic principal is that you don''t understand the artwork until you know its title. Several phases of the movement can be seen here: The Recidivist (I Am Repeatedly Under A Rest), and Proposed Verbalist Monument for the City of Ulyanovsk. (Consult the artist for an explication of the latter.) The latest manifestation of verbalism is the painting НО ПРОБЛЕМ. "What?!" you might ask; but I prefer to keep it a mystery for now... On the other hand, if you have any familiarity with the Greek alphabet through math, fraternities, sororities or whatever, then no problem, you can read this title in the Cyrillic alphabet. Or, why not ask Trump to have his good friend Putin read it to you aloud.
So, enjoy the exhibition and find your own meanings here. (I'm often amazed by what people tell me they see in my work!)
|1958||Yale University, Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, summa cum laude|
|1961||Yale School of Art & Architecture, Master of Fine Arts in Painting; studied with Josef Albers, Neil Welliver, William Bailey and Rico Lebrun|
|1960–61||Study and travel in Europe|
|1965–67||National University of Fine Arts, Tokyo, Japan, scholarship student|
|1965–71||Study and travel in Japan and Southeast Asia|
|California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, instructor in drawing, painting, color, design|
|1968–71||English teacher and translator, Tokyo, Japan|
|1971–77||College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California, art instructor|