Joan Mitchell Center AIR Program

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Whiting Tennis

Staten Island, NY
2010 Painters & Sculptors Grant Recipient

Artist Statement

There is something waiting for me but it will remain invisible until I try to make it.

My last gallery show was called "Walleyed," which referred to how my artwork was being pulled simultaneously to the left and to the right or artistically, towards both the abstract and to the figurative. The fact that this dichotomy, as a subject, is as old as art itself, was not the deterrence it might be for some. Making and showing groups of drawings, paintings and sculpture that strayed over both sides of the line actually felt like a good thing. All the work originated from drawings made in an automatic mode, moving the pencil or crayon on the paper as if it were the curser of a Ouija board, until something (or nothing) emerged. Though the process is intentionally thought-free, I think two separate investigations are happening. First of all, it is an act of mining; reaching into the unconscious for animal totems or symbolic characters. Occasionally the primary drawing would have such an obvious anthropomorphic or zoomorphic connection that the image would endow itself with a name. On the other hand, this kind of drawing is related to the basics of abstraction and cubism, and concerns the underlying bone structure of all shapes. It's kind of like a crossword puzzle with 2D lines intersecting 3D lines, where everything is rendered in a combination of straight lines with angles, and flowing curves.

There are two ideas pulling me forward. I'd like to make some paintings that combine a pictorial surface with elements from the more automatic, subconscious and abstract universe. To write it out sounds obvious and easy, and I've had some success with it, but it remains for the most part, difficult and uncharted territory. I can look at parts of paintings and know it's a sample of where I want to go. The polite rapport that exists between the two worlds separately becomes, in the same painting, a sort of diagram of dueling visual realities, where the structural bones inside the object pierce through the skin, kind of like a compound fracture.

The second project has already begun, but will take years to complete since it involves a massive accumulation of hand made things and a heavily layered installation. I'd like to turn the gallery into a Junk Shop (the title of the show) and fill it with hundreds of odd lot works of all sizes, shapes and kinds. The idea came to me when I was wandering through a huge flea market in Marseilles  and felt a surge of excitement as I imagined the possibilities of making and showing art in this way.  Boxes of drawings and paintings would be stacked on weird found and altered furniture, alongside bookshelves filled with figurines, photo albums, scrapbooks, and knick-knacks. Rugs, sweaters, chessboards, teapots, watercolors, coat hanger mobiles, plaster heads… an endless assortment of beautiful stuff would be all piled together. And just as in a real junkshop, the art could be handled by the viewers. The framework of the show would, on the front end, give me license to make almost anything I can dream up and put it in an art gallery, but is related on the back end to Jim Shaw's "Thrift Store Paintings" show, and again, taking that baby step back from the "artworld."

  • Blue Cactus, 2011, acrylic and collage on canvas, 64 x 44 inches.

  • White Crab, 2011, plywood, body filler, paint, 36 x 24 x 2 inches.

  • Aardvark, 2011, acrylic and collage on canvas, 40 x 30 inches.

  • Tabletop, 2011, plaster, plywood, and found table, 49 x 23 x 24 inches.

  • Wilderness Painting, 2011, acrylic and collage on canvas, 96 x 108 inches.

  • Hybrid, 2011, acrylic and collage on canvas, 60 x 44 inches.

All works are copyright of the artist or artist’s estate.