Artist’s statement (revised 4/2/14):
This piece was started in the last week of December and finished in mid-January, during the final days of my relationship with Heather. There’s a lot of emotional back-and-forth in it. On New Year’s Eve, I wrote:
If you’ve never walked the train tracks alone on New Year’s Eve, singing along (badly) to a song only you can hear and maybe – just once, in the course of that walk – thrown a fist in the air… Well – I don’t envy you.
I DON’T EVEN LOOK OVER MY SHOULDER ANYMORE.
Hit the pavement, light another cigarette. Life is beautiful.
I just jumped in the air and laughed. I’ve never even heard this song before.
The joy I felt in that moment soon gave way to dejection. I was walking to meet Heather to go out for the night. Our outing only lasted fifteen minutes or so, before she got mad at me, and I walked home alone in a very different state of mind. Hembrough called me around 2 AM. He was walking home along the tracks back in Sarasota. I laughed. “What am I doing?” he asked me, “Why is this happening? Because punk rock told me so, I guess.”
The next morning, I was feeling drained of any and all spirit. I wrote out two lists:
THINGS THAT MADE ME CRY TODAY:
(1) A Facebook post about the rain
(2) A pop punk song about resilience
THINGS THAT MADE YOU CRY TODAY:
A few days later, I added more text: “It gets better, it gets worse, it gets better, it gets worse. As soon as it’s good enough, it isn’t. Why am I so sad?”
Another day or two passed and Rational Anthem sent me the demos of their new eight-song EP that they were gearing up to record. One song in particular fucking wrecked me. The chorus begins: “I can’t convince myself that I’m happy.“
Fuck. They nailed it.
The last lyric in the song repeats through the end. “Does it matter anyway?” I heard it differently though: “It doesn’t matter anyway.” If I had heard that song on New Year’s Day, I wouldn’t have just been crying, I’d probably have been bawling.
The song had a goofy working-title. ”No,” I told Chris. “There’s nothing fucking silly about this song. It needs a real, honest title.” I told him to call it, “I Wish I Could Be Happy.” He, Noelle, and Pete took me up on it so that’ll be the title when the record comes out. Since then, it’s also been decided that my watercolor painting/cartoon, “Autobiography,” will be used as the front cover for the record (recaptioned with the album’s title, “Emotionally Unavailable”). (Before I move past punk rock, I wanna note that the album I was listening to as I walked on NYE was “The Constant One” by Iron Chic, and the song referenced in my list is “The Shades of Grey” by The Murderburgers.
The text about it getting better and getting worse was originally the largest caption on the canvas, but I decided to relegate it to semi-obscurity by rewriting it in pen in the shadows. I blocked out that original caption with a series of primary-colored rectangles. I liked them but they reminded me of what I guess I’d call the proverbial “modern art.” I don’t like to be so negative or critical as to suggest that any art is stupid (after all, I have no idea what goes into it or why the artist is making it) but – if I’m being honest – when I look at most artwork, I have the same response that I think most people have to art:“Um… okay.” Basically, I don’t get it. I’m not sure why I should care. I mean, if the artist is getting something out of it, then I think that’s spectacular (genuinely!) but I don’t think that that necessarily makes it worth my time or attention. “Modern Art is Stupid; Everything Is” is reflective of that attitude as well as the bad / hurt feelings swirling around my relationship and my general state of being as I painted this. It’s also part self-deprecation. After all (IN CASE YOU CAN’T TELL), this piece is itself a work of modern art. (And – depending on who you ask – thoroughly stupid!)
All of this sort of adds up to one big jumbled mess of emotion and incident. That’s what happens when my work on some piece spans two or even three weeks. Struggling with whether or not I should break up with my girlfriend, trying to figure out if I’m happy, walking along train tracks, pop punk, modern art, being an artist. I don’t know what’s what. I summed it up with one last caption along the bottom of the canvas: “This is one of them MAGIC EYE paintings. Look close, at just the right angle, and you can see… how full of shit I am.”
Status update (2/22/14):
Here are two photos of the painting, hanging in Ettra (the gallery in which it was sold).
I also got set up at Burrito Gallery in Jacksonville this week. I have twenty-one pieces on their wall right now, though I may add more. The exhibit will run through the first week of April.
I’m posting this from Chamblin’s Uptown. A few of my pieces are still up on the walls here, though I’ll be rearranging and adding more later in the week.
And I still have plenty of new pieces that I’ve yet to share online. I’ve been incredibly busy though so I’m going to hold off until I have time to write up proper statements to accompany them.
Anyway, things are going really well so far as all my art nonsense is concerned. Breaking my lease and moving into a van might not have seemed like the most sound game plan, but I couldn’t be happier with how things have been developing. Life’s been going a mile a minute and I’m just doing my best to keep up. I’ll be in Jacksonville until the show at Burrito Gallery ends and then I’ll head north to try and line up a show in a new city. The uncertainty and instability of my life can get scary at times but it’s also really exciting and – more than anything – I feel grateful. And I feel free. I don’t have to convince myself that I’m happy today; I just am.