Stuckism. It’s fresh as a doughnut and as old as dirt. I am a Stuckist. I was a Stuckist long before I knew I was a Stuckist. Joining a commune doesn’t make one a communist just because Karl Marx coined a term. In fact, communism is a million years old and sharing societies have formed among human groups no matter what the political ideology. A modern commune can consist of right wing “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorists all sharing equally their bread, chores, and the good news about Jesus who was a hyrdofracker before becoming a venture capitalist. I’ve been stuck all my adult life and I don’t need an “ism” to identify. In 1999, Charles Thomson and Billy Childish wrote the Stuckist manifesto and put a positive spin on repetitive failure for thousands of painters, giving the working class artist his and her own brand of gnosticism by declaring painting to be a spiritual practice for the steadfast and pure of heart. Kind of in the opposite manner that Christie’s, Inc. opened up a market to billionaires on a highway robbery to hell, an established dark practice for the determinedly pure of evil.
For me, Stuckism is one pilgrim in rags patting the back of another to say over and over again, “Nice sandals Charlie. I’ll give you ten bucks for them. Or we can trade”.
The Stuckist is able to take him or herself seriously and facilely at the same time. Stuckism is playful, if it chooses to be. It is radical, yet ubiquitous as the air we breathe. Who knew Vincent van Gogh was a Stuckist? His contemporary Edna, the widowed suffragette, was too. She painted every day and exhibited her work to anyone who would bother to look.
Many take Stuckism seriously. Not me. A hundred years ago I would have made a good Dadaist, but even then I would feel the need to paint and paint often. I’d “get” the irony and the silly, but still feel incomplete if I just set my old toilet in a gallery and left it there. I think Stuckism marks Dadaism, or, for that matter, any conceptual art action or “installation”, as a point of dislocation in the art world. I believe conceptual art has a place, as does theater and interpretive dance. I just don’t want it in traditional galleries or museums. My great grandfather went to a gallery to see a painting, and so do I. For performance he went to the movies or the theater, and I would too if I liked that sort of thing. Of course conceptual art is art. It’s just very lazy art where a person has cleverness without creation, and wants to make quick theater about it. In the world of industry and the NY Stock Exchange, Facebook® would be conceptual art. It doesn’t make anything (besides money and unhappiness), but it’s still business. Damien Hirst floating a dead shark in formaldehyde is no less “art” than Disney Donald Duck hooking his sailor suit, or Roy Lichtenstein copying a cartoon of Disney Donald Duck hooking his sailor suit, or Fred the conceptual artist filming himself at the National Gallery splashing invisible ink on Lichtenstein’s Disney Donald Duck hooking his sailor suit. Hirst and his helpers made something. They bought a dead shark with a millionaire’s money and suspended it in a glass box. Then Hirst stood by it, and did a little song and dance for a reporter or two, and viola! Damien Hirst became a performing conceptual artist. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get why anyone on earth would admire his work. If ten thousand idiots want to pay $20 to see a dead shark under glass, then so be it. People also paid money to see Barbara Streisand movies. I can’t keep up with all the bad taste in the world, but I can be an advocate of closing museum and gallery doors to conceptual artists. It’s just lazy, layabout stuff trying to move in on ancient tradition. Similar to the Christians who crashed Winter solstice parties. (If Santa’s not a conceptual work of art, then boy do I have some sea ice to sell you at the North Pole!) Conceptual art is mostly an idea, but I have those literally all day long, and they don’t make me feel like an artist at all.
Turning fine art museums into entertaining fun houses is sooo last century. Let’s round out the new age adhering to an old adage, “If it looks like art and reflects to your eye like art, then it’s probably art, and not a dead duck”. Charles Thomson said it better and braver at the Oxford Union in 2009. I disagree only a little bit. A shoe is art if you call it art. But I don’t want to call it art, and I have a hunch that 7 billion people on earth don’t want to call it art either. However, I’m from that mental state that says a person is the King of England if he claims to be, even if nobody recognizes the self-ordained King. Like art, sanity relies on subjectivity too.
So, who are the Stuckists?
At the time of Dada 100 years ago, Stuckists were everywhere. They just didn’t know they were Stuckists.
They thought they were painters.
Same holds true for all artists, from time out of mind, provided they agreed with precepts in a future manifesto, which outlines the obvious for millions who have chosen a life and/or career in art. What self-respecting painter would reject to the notion that “Painting is the medium of self-discovery. It engages the person fully with a process of action, emotion, thought and vision, revealing all of these with intimate and unforgiving breadth and detail.”? [Stuckist Manifesto, #2]
In 1999 Thomson and Childish brought words to what artists of all epochs feel. 21st century Stuckists take back much of the silliness of post modernism, and from that revisited reality, head out and make something of themselves as painters. Stuckism states the obvious, that’s all. It gives voice to what millions of people privately think when they see a bridge wrapped in tissue paper, and are told the guy who did that was an artist. Reality says he was was an anti-Earth Day architect with cheap, flimsy siding material, industry influence, and a ton of money to waste.
Imagine Glub the cave painter being popularly outclassed by the cavewoman who could drop eggs filled with pigments out of her vagina. (Video forbidden to those under 120 years old). Could she draw wild horses and bison? No, but look how cool she looks giving birth to the good news of feminism far and wide.
A Stuckist sees her act slamming shut another gallery door to a painter. Nothing to see here. Literally. Again Glub seeks relevancy among his peers. He invites the clan into the cave gallery, lights his firestick, and exposes bare rock walls.
The clan eats him.
Stuckism says make room for the painters. While established galleries continue to neglect new painting, there are many alternatives readily available.
“The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system and calls for exhibitions to be held in homes and musty museums, with access to sofas, tables, chairs and cups of tea. The surroundings in which art is experienced (rather than viewed) should not be artificial and vacuous.” [Stuckist Manifesto #18]
For instance, I have exhibited work in my house and basement, at a friend’s apartment, local history museum, library, college hallway, on the street, in the woods, in the front yard, in a hotel, bar, coffee house, and of course, hundreds of times online.
How democratic! Goodbye to the moneyed interests and middlemen. People have eyes with working brains and will see for themselves what appeals to them. The trick is getting folks to come to your living room for a live viewing. Many artists are solitary and not up for the business of self promotion. Lucky for me, I am an idiot about money and work. My painting exhibitions come with mini sideshows of comfort food catering, top shelf drink, and sometimes live music. (Here and here for example.) The traditional gallery has provided this service, but with a price, and often too high. Once a gallery establishes itself in the community it suffers the pressures of viability. Pleasing the exhibiting artist is easy-peasey. Selling his or her work is a whole other matter. Must pay the rent, the overhead, the receptionist salary. Now art comes with a schtick, and a narrowly focused objectivity. Lucrative (financially sustainable) trends are followed and held. No surprises please. Who goes to Disneyland to see a tire factory?
Conceptual art certainly brought surprises in the beginning. It also brought money to those established galleries ready to take the risk. Over time anti-art became a cash cow like the NBC Nightly news. People wanted to see an everyday chair represented as a chair in a gallery, complete with title, medium, date and artist who purchased the factory chair and had it delivered 5,000 miles (at the gallery’s expense of course). Then the people got super curious to know what that chair would fetch in a futures art market. Which museum would take it up for a hundred grand?
Influencer of the term “Stuckism”, Tracey Emin, sold her dander-infested bed to multi-millionaire Charles Saatchi for $200,000 in the year 2000. Saatchi installed the bed in a dedicated room in his house and showed it at parties. The kind of parties where they role up human babies in tobacco leaves and smoke them. In 2014 he said, “Hey rich filthy buddies, I’m auctioning this sexy bed at Christies® Satan House next Thursday. You too can own and sniff it like I did. See you there!”
Burning jet fuel spiked with Viagra® the wrinkly billionaires arrived to London in the nick of time to bid war on a dirty bed. It re-sold for 3.7 million dollars.
A couple years before the seventh used condom dropped at her bedside, the “artist” Emin was sponge-artisting off the artist Billy Childish. She told him that his painting, music and poetry was stuck, stuck, stuck! Charles Thomson coined the term Stuckism, and he and Billy Childish made art history by defining a movement.
And this is important. Unlike most if not all art movements, Stuckism is not built around a style of art. It’s not impressionism, fauvism, cubism, futurism, romanticism, socialist realism, Hudson River Schoolism, expressionism, etc. A Stuckist will paint paintings that could be labeled under any one or many of these styles. Stuckism is a philosophy, an ideology, but never a style as long as the painting is figurative. Stuckism wants to see something there. It doesn’t have to look good, but it better be some thing. Don’t dare call it “macaroni and cheese” when anyone can see that it’s just a canvas painted Prussian blue with three dots of cadmium yellow. Stuckism rejects abstraction. So in 1952 Philip Guston could not be a Stuckist. But in 1977 he couldn’t help but be one. (Whether he knew it or not).
Now for the dilemma of Stuckism. If not a stylistic art movement, then what is it?
It’s a reform movement. A readjustment bolstered by brief but poignant philosophical statements on art and painting. I read the manifesto as a litmus test for being an artist. It’s also a path to the democratization and pure individuality of art, where both concepts can actually fuse as one and thrive. Stuckism is populist art. What painter in any age would challenge the majority of its precepts? Who here imagines Michelangelo wanted to be the slave of Popes? What did he really think about those old farts at the Vatican? All he wanted was access to chickens, pigment and enough time—oh yes, and food and shelter and all that. That is, if he was an artist. And not just another interior decorator for hire. Maybe as a Stuckist he would have painted Jesus brown like the freethinkers of his day said he was. What if Picasso realized he could open up his villa la California to show his work to family, friends, and neighbors, and still make enough dough for the good Spanish olive oil? Any painter knows exactly what Picasso meant when he said that he’d like to “live like a poor man but with lots of money”. It means he wouldn’t change a thing about the way he worked no matter how many crates of olive oil landed on his doorstep.
Stuckism points out a path to take in order to conquer the artistic ego. It does not declare a painting worth just a pittance more than the materials and substrate it ends up on, but I do. What is the monetary value of a painting anyway? And who says so? The potential buyer? Nope. An art appraiser? Nope. A college graduate? Nope. Like a Zen Koan, Stuckism whacks you on the head with an answer.
“It’s worth the head of a dead cat,” says Stuckism.
“What do you mean?” asks the nonplussed artist.
“Because it is what it is. No one can put a price on it, you fool!”
“Then I should just give it away?”
“What is your investment?” asks Stuckism.
“I fed and watered it (paid for paints and substrate), and scooped its litter box daily (worked for art).”
“Then you ask back a little more than your monetary investment.”
“That’s it? But I’m an arteeest!”
“Did you love it?” asks Stuckism.
“Yes, I guess. Enough.”
“Then charge a wage and 30% over cost.”
That’s not everyone’s Stuckism, but it sure is mine. As a painter, I rely on the upper crust working class assumptions of the pipefitter and electrician. Pride in work matters, but there is only so much the public should be charged for skilled labor.
A little side story. I hosted an international Stuckist exhibition in 2017 in Watkins Glen, NY. Charles Thomson graciously used his influence to gather some interest in the show. He suggested we ask artists for paintings to be priced no higher than $1000. This would make postage affordable because the works would be of smaller size.
One of the first paintings to arrive was a studio canvas 16 x 20 inch, unframed portrait of a woman’s head and hair. The artist had a $1000 price tag. I wrote to Charles and asked if he thought this might be a bit too much to ask. On the contrary, he wrote back, “Usually he would ask twice that, for such an historical work”. (It was dated 2006.)
So, $2,000 for a day painting that my gut of guts told me would be lucky to fetch $75 at a flea market.
Just goes to show that even trained Stuckists aren’t immune to the conceptual art of art pricing. There is no such thing as a $2,000 16 x 20" painting. That’s an art market, and about as Stuckist as Dali walking his pet armadillo.
Without any style or practice difference to set itself apart from say, impressionism or surrealism (“figurative” covers a lot of ground), Stuckism remains to be a geographic and historic art movement for a limited group of founders and followers. It cannot claim any ground beyond this because artists have been thinking, feeling, and abiding by Stuckist precepts nonstop for generations. In fact, what is any art movement besides “Hey, look at us, we’re struggling righteously too to make ends meet. Please join up for a shoulder to cry on and the possibility of rent paid on time. Strength in numbers!” I believe Stuckism is a split with the established Church of Art. Protestant painters with 20 theses stapled to the front door of the Tate Modern.
“The ego-artist’s constant striving for public recognition results in a constant fear of failure. The Stuckist risks failure wilfully and mindfully by daring to transmute his/her ideas through the realms of painting. Whereas the ego-artist’s fear of failure inevitably brings about an underlying self-loathing, the failures that the Stuckist encounters engage him/her in a deepening process which leads to the understanding of the futility of all striving. The Stuckist doesn’t strive—which is to avoid who and where you are—the Stuckist engages with the moment.” [Stuckist Manifesto #15]
But alas, “Dam!” Stuckism isn’t the only Buddha holding the brushes.
The Stuckist website says Stuckism is “painting with ideas”. Well, that covers a wide swath of intentional painting from time out of mind, with or without Stuckism.
Stuckism is a radical art movement founded in London in 1999 to advance new figurative painting with ideas as the most vital artistic means of addressing contemporary issues.
Stuckism is a rebuttal of the twentieth century development of Modernism, which has resulted in an increasingly fragmented, isolated, material-obsessed and stultifying academia, existing not by virtue of the work but institutional and financial power, flattered by critical acquiescence.
This has been my adult view also, long before I was introduced to Stuckism. But then Guston was also a painter with ideas, and his abstract impressionism hits me like a brick:
And I step aside from Stuckism and lean toward Ron Throop-ism. Meaning, I shall always be a Stuckist painter, or more accurately, a painter of the Stuckist religion. God didn’t change just because Martin Luther was ashamed of Pope skirts and feared so many candles lit in a drafty church made out of dry wood.
So please fellow painters, sculptors, writers, actors, poets, dancers, and yes, even you silly conceptual theater dudes and dudettes, read the Stuckist Manifesto and become a Stuckist. It will add another necessary spit in the eye to power. It will provide repeated cold-cocks to the false notion that you’re only as adept as someone with money says that you are. It will help you feel and think again, which is what art has always been, long before the time of defining it.
June 2014 exhibition Art is Work
And the following handout to visitors:
Actually, in this case, painting is work. I have never considered myself to be an artist, really. I don’t even like “art”, the way my art-lover friend Dan does, one to leap at the chance to visit a gallery or a museum. I love painting though, any kind, and at a group art show, I will make a bee line past all other forms of expression to see work of painters, more to learn and compare than to enjoy. Some times professional jealousy creeps in, especially when I see rendering that has a special hair shirt quality, when each stroke of the brush belies both a practical and encyclopedic knowledge of control or constipation—hard to tell which for sure until I meet the painter for beer and oysters. Unfortunately so many masters are either dead or practically inaccessible, and from my viewpoint in Oswego at least, painting is tolerated as a form of yoga, just another hobby distraction to the despair calisthenics of the modern age. Thank God for family and friendship, and the blessings of the narcissist Internet. Otherwise by now I’d be eating my toenails at a local mental health spa.
In Providence Rhode Island I looked at my first van Gogh through a painter’s eyes. It was a religious experience. The great and powerful Vincent was a failure. Hurray! Another human being. It was a 14 x 17" landscape entitled View of Auvers-sur-Oise, a day’s work in a village north of Paris in the year he took his life. I read into that painting like any tome of art writing could instruct. The great Vincent van Gogh was nothing much really. Just another proud working man, driven day after day, year after year with an obsession to perfect his limitations. I saw the human hand laying it on thick, always at the right place at the wrong time, a failure at night, hopeful idiot by morning. One life to live, and if he was determined to be a painter, to Hell with the greatest of art critics, Mssrs. Degradation and Poverty.
It worked! A few hours coloring a French village from a field, and he succeeded to live another day pretending to be a painter. It was the billionaires who got rich though. They took the dignity of pride in pretend and made a killing for themselves. Endowments all over the world buy up van Gogh’s paintings to prove unwittingly their dislocation to humanity. They “get” the history, but fear the present moment like a pathogen. I could count all the struggling van Gogh’s living today. But it would take a lifetime and more assistants in my employ than those pretending to be artists at a Jeff Koons factory.
One more point before my plea:
Kurt Vonnegut: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be”.
Last month I checked out from the library a photo book about Picasso. Pictures taken of him at leisure and work in 1956. A mess of canvases and sculptures in every room, painting on the walls, dripped paint on the floor. His mansion had twenty foot ceilings and huge doors at the end of one studio opening out onto a balcony of palm trees. “La Californie” was the name of his hermitage in Southern France.
There is a brief passage in the book referencing his time in Montmartre, when he lived in poverty, painting. Somehow still able to acquire materials without the financial support of credit cards and/or a well-endowed sugar mama. I think poverty in 1905 was a world of difference from what we call it today. He must have made modern starving artists look like rich dandys sacrificing a week of television and a bowl of chocolates for art. Or, God forbid, smartphone data! The photos of him as a rich millionaire painting in a mansion, juxtaposed with my imagination of a poor Parisian painter holed up in some cold January flat over a hundred years ago, instruct and educate like nobody’s business. His wealthy genius in 1956 appears unchanged over 50 years time. He looks just as poor to me, but rich in determination and singleness of purpose. He eats, sleeps, voids excrement, laughs and paints. There is no stopping him. The art crazy old man.
I mention Picasso’s sameness to my wife the other morning over coffee. I asked her how differently would we live if suddenly Jeff Koons got cast inside one of his poodles, and Ron Throop went viral throughout the acquisition dreams of bored billionaires. “Our coffee and climate would get better. Other than that,” she admitted, “nothing”.
A few months ago I helped hang a show at our local art association. One of the helpers, a member my age, asked me what I do for a living. “Paint,” I said. “I am a painter”. It was more difficult for me to get that truism past my lips than if I told him I was an untouchable scouring latrines with my socks.
Picasso’s Picasso. Throop is Throop. We have nothing in common, besides a heightened desire to perfect our limitations. My path for the rest of this life is to pretend like Picasso. It won’t hurt anybody. It won’t even help. Maybe, if I just work harder and dream longer, Rose will taste a better sip of coffee with her next husband, from the Florida room of her beach condo in Boca Raton.
Now finally, an explanation.
I found out last winter that I am a Stuckist, more or less. Their manifesto is available here at the show. Take a look. The strongest statement, #4, Artists who don’t paint aren’t artists, if not cryptic, is flat out silly wrong. I know nothing about ceramics, but I know a man, a teaching artist, who would take his class to Chimney Bluffs along Lake Ontario to gather clay to be used for glazing. Ho boy! Show me a Stuckist in London who holidays to extract cadmium from zinc ore. Or, take my friend the marble sculptor, who travels out of state to steal marble from parking lots. He approaches his stone like I do any canvas. As an ignoramus. I wish I had the knowledge (and time) to make my own paint and weave my own canvas. I’d rather paint on a log with berry juice, but the berry juice will never put out like my sweetheart dioxizine purple. So I just hold my breath while I paint.
Anyway, Stuckism. Good medicine. We are painter-workers. We get up in the morning to paint. We are international brothers and sisters in pretend. Yet we all need to get paid. Here is how I dream to be paid. Milton Glaser has the phrase “Art is Work” painted on the transom of his company door. Another tome of knowledge garnered from just three precious words. Art is work. The 6 foot painting I finished this week took exactly 40 hours—from surface, image, and finally to frame. At $13 dollars an hour (what I was making at my last job as “cook in the great north woods”, plus materials, and “element-X” fee (30%), I value it at $832.00.
So, any takers? I’ll have to add $500.00 for shipping.
There you have it! The first Oswego Stuckist to admit the truth. Art is work. So is toenail chewing if one can pretend really hard. I promise to play this game out to the end. My dreams tell me that buying up my work now, will secure some legacy to leave your children. Buy a signed book. Put it in the attic. Buy a painting to hang in the parlor. Its story will not die.
I apologize about the lack of framing for many of these paintings. The truth is I have another show going on at the Dyer Arts Center at R.I.T. in Rochester. Unlike Zink, I would be banished from furthering that avenue of pretend if I didn’t deliver framed work. We’re out of money now, and I blame myself for scheduling two shows in the same month. The gallerists at the Rochester venue must keep up appearances. R.I.T. needs to pretend too. And I need to pretend that I have a chance to break into a world that will provide me a line cook’s salary to paint. Please, if you find my art not practical enough for your tastes, patronize Zink Shirts® in any way you can. Glenn has offered this space to local color. Come here for holiday shopping. His work is sublime and corporate killing at the same time. Wear one of his shirts and flip a tall bird at the bottom-line world of men who care not a bean about your day to day. Glenn and I do. Look, we invited you all here. Open your wallets and pick out a record album to play. But first, open your wallets!
Introduction to Roundtrip Stuckism
I often have to remind myself that Russia is not an English-speaking land. I spend some time surfing VK, the social media site popular in that country, and I forget that I am looking at hieroglyphs of a living people thousands of miles away.
I rely on the pictures to tell most of the story, and Google Translate® to clear up the rest. Still, I often get it wrong, like the time I saw a photo of Darya Serenko carrying a poster facsimile of Alexey Stepanov’s paintings being escorted into a paddy wagon by Moscow police, and I thought, “Oh no, they’re arresting Stuckism in Russia!”
It turned out that she was protesting the government’s bombardment of Syria, and just like in the United States, was arrested for complaining about it outside of her designated Free Speech Zone. Stepanov’s paintings were a prop she carried — a series of government buildings entitled “State Power”.
Or, I can listen to any of these painters talk on the many videos shared over social media, and become entranced by the romance of their unknown language. Alena Levina could be talking about an aggressive squirrel she saw in the park, and I’ll imagine she’s espousing on the virtues of monasticism in the arts. In effect, I entrust the language barrier more not to judge a personality. It is a strange bias, but I rate anyone who does not speak American as an intellectual step ahead of me on life’s road. And usually I can trust my instinctual bias. These young painters are serious about their work. Unlike contemporaries in America, (at least the ones who I have met) they know that they’re artists. There doesn’t seem to be any confusion about it. No cat videos posted on Facebook — the closest I’ve seen was a Lena Ulanova painting of two cats on the sea entitled (via Google Translate®) “Navy Seals”.
Of course I am projecting. Still, I have longed for camaraderie among artists for most of my adult life, and have concluded that, in the United States, there is none. Is this the canary in the coal mine of western civilization? This artistic loneliness coupled by the realization that no one about me seems the least bit interested in shaping a personal philosophy that on a daily basis, elevates the good life of practicing the arts of cooking, painting, parenting, sculpture, laundry, wood working, perambulation, love making, etc. As Emerson wrote 160 years ago:
“There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snow storm. We wake from one dream into another dream. The toys to be sure are various, and are graduated in refinement to the quality of the dupe. The intellectual man requires a fine bait; the sots are easily amused. But everybody is drugged with his own frenzy, and the pageant marches at all hours, with music and banner and badge.”
I will have lived a half century by next year, and it has taken me this long to see the absolute truth in Emerson’s musing. Just look around you. Can you see differently? Then prove it. Stop by my studio for a conversation. Lord knows, we can use one or two of those natural human exchanges free from the ever-present squirrel-like fear and trembling ramblings in our own heads.
There is no common ground that anyone over 10 years of age will admit to. We must face the obvious. Adults suck. They give us official words like Homeland and International Affairs. They keep the world on edge with their manufactured fear-mongering. They seek enemies in flowers. They teach children the virtues of sharing, and then hoard their little pennies like fanatical Scrooges. True artists are the adult-children of the world. They know what the masses are sacrificing, and that is this: their own lives among the living.
You painters of Russia I want to call my friends. However, first I need to complete a private revolution. I promise that I am working on it.
I do not even know how to pronounce your names, let alone spell them in Cyrillic, or even in the correct English translation. I do not know a Russian rock and roll band, a modern day Russian philosopher, actor, psychologist, botanist, architect, house husband, etc... I am an ignorant boob from America who paints. I perform a meaningless task seeking communion. My countrymen seem to desire a life of tripping themselves up avoiding strong and meaningful contact with their brethren. They fear their own neighbor (they fear especially words like “brethren”) because he or she might call them out to be the exact same phony in kind. They too know nothing about your beautiful country—your geniuses and ignoramuses, flora, fauna, architecture, and imagination. I pity them so much while laughing out loud at myself. Do you see why it is so easy for me to be an artist? Yes? Then let me call you comrade.
I know this for certain. Any one of you dedicated painters could fluidly lead a nation or retire to Siberia to follow the sober sun each day gathering faggots for the fire. You are of stronger stuff than either of our countries’ man-stink militaries, corrupt dignitaries, or laughable presidencies. The world is topsy-turvy, and we are the right side up.
I am in debt to each of you for your kindness and warm reaction to my latest whims. You have carried my work onto trains, you have hung it in the woods, sent parcels to me with much difficulty, made live video feed to my basement studio and dining room, wrote me back when I wrote to you, said my name out loud in a speech I could not understand...
My intention with this exhibition is to return the many favors and catch up to the kindnesses you have given me. My dreams tell me to buy up all the work you send if my countrymen save the coins in their pockets for another night out at McDonald’s®, or a $7 beer at a millionaire’s bar. We are a country of abstractionists—we hate material things, especially the handmade stuff. Your great neighbor to the south, China, thrives because Americans seek shopping for trinkets and not satori. Oh well.
Here is a toast to our stupendous failure or success! In a topsy-turvy world, it’s anybody’s call. Thank you for existing on such a grand scale in my small, inspired reality. Thank you for dreaming with me, and allowing me to sense and attempt to interpret your dreams.
Oswego, — September 2016
And a video to record history.
Thanks for reading!