nathan's blog

Wiping the Slate

Just bought a house that was built ten years before the States were United (1766).

  On the left is a current picture of the house. On the right is Richard Keasts, a former owner standing in front of the house, taken in 1890.  There is a 3 car garage in the back that was at one time a horse stable which we hope to turn into the studio. Because of this, I gave up my studio in the Erector Square factory building.  It felt weird getting rid of it.  I'd worked and made a mess in there for a good 8 years.  It was amazing how quickly I could take my presence out of that studio. (with the exception of a hundred layers of tape and paint on the floor)  It really felt weird (did i say that yet?)  I look over some of the pictures as evidence of some of the better projects and times spent in that building, and I can feel each of those moments again, but the next person in the space won't know those experiences.  I'm too distrustful of my desires to believe they will feel it. (this is probably why I paint)  I think there is an emotional vibe to spaces, but i suspect it is more the architecture and light that gives you that sense than passed lives lived there. There are moments when I'm drawing someone's face where I wonder about what in the person's features belong to ancestors and what is unique.   Here we are, starting anew in a home that has had plenty of former inhabitants, yet our task to some degree, is to make it our own, to disown what the place meant before.  To wipe the slate.  

I will eventually be painting in a structure that formerly had horses in it.  My only concession to that will be to possibly make a horse painting.  Until the studio is built I will be working small.  (There is an Eastern Icon book I shelled out 90 bucks for that I've been scouring over for inspiration.)  I have a few panels and a sketchbook that will be my artistic activity until I take over the garage.  Here are some shots of the Erector Square studio over the years.

from 2004





R.I.P Erector Square


Facebook, blogs, mirrors, and art

 There is a chapter in Invisible Cities about a city built on water. Everything that happens in the town is reflected in the alter image. The townspeople become so aware of how they look in the reflection, that they alter their actions so each may appear more effective, more enjoyable, more dramatic in the reflected image of themselves. Indeed their enjoyment is in imagining how their actions will appear, not in the actions themselves. This certainly relates to art work but perhaps even more to blogging and facebook. Facebook seems to have largely taken over blogging. One can say in a readymade format, "Hobo is hungry....Hobo is voting for Obama, Hobo is gracefully sidestepping all responsibilities. " The effectiveness of facebook is that it allows one to achieve the feeling of being busy or looked at or paid attention to without much work. (the other side of it is that you get to be a voyeur into other people's lives which likewise seem very interesting because they're not yours) With blogging, the implication is that you have to write something worth reading. The thrill of both is that it feels spontaneous and of the moment. The downside is that no one wants to read something two days old. But back to the reflection idea- one of the things that made the Blair Witch Project so interesting was that the female character used the video camera as a reflective device where she could project someone strong and confident. As long as she could hold on to the idea of the documentary and her role as narrator, the real life situation was less frightening. Was this because real life became a movie? Perhaps being the director or narrator brought a sense of confidence to her identity which she could bring back to everyday life. I often think of painting as a turning away from and a returning to the world. There is always a let down when the painting ends. I think it's some sort a ridiculous desire that when you turn back around from that world in the rectangle that the world behind you will be indistinguishable from it. There is a sense of failure that, although painful, is in many ways a healthy and humbling experience.

 There is another chapter in Invisible Cities about a hotel room that a man visits every year. It has one window where he spends all his time peering through. The view is barren at first, but with successive years, the view becomes populated with characters....far off at first, and few. Each year the characters increase in quantity and proximity. After years of returning to look through the window, the characters are so plentiful that they begin to occupy the space of the room behind him and around him to where he can barely move. In many ways this seems a triumph, but the implication is otherwise. (think Dylan, Cobain, and Salinger)