This body of work began in a cafe in Greensboro, NC on a random afternoon. I was talking with two musician friends about art, craft, mastery and historical references. The conversation turned to Theloneous Monk, among others, and something about how my friends were describing his technique piqued my interest enough that when I came back home I devoured his catalog. This led to bifurcated works on paper; splitting a gesture into phrases or movements if you will. Music is a part of most artists’ practice, but for me, a line or passage from a song can often send me on a journey in which a narrative arises.
I get a story stuck in my head; it doesn’t have to be linear, and in fact it rarely is so. Some theme arises, and a body of work begins to unfold in my mind. Though thoroughly abstract, there’s almost always an origin story for each body of work I produce.
This new, colorful body of work began to take shape in 2022, mostly through works on paper. When I eventually took it to birch panels, I experimented with diptychs and the interplay of light by painting only the side edges between the two panels. This created the illusion of a colored line that split the image in two. From there I moved to single-panel experiments. Along the way, I let go of the black ink and branched out into colorful gestures. In truth, I suppose I was having a bit of a laugh at myself in the beginning, but as the explorations continued I became genuinely interested in frequency and modulation of color combinations. What does a painting sound like?
In the beginning of 2023, I still didn’t understand the work. The color combinations became more pop-ish, almost difficult to look at. I recall hearing a song by the Velvet Underground, “All tomorrow’s parties,” and something about the juxtaposition of the title and the melancholy of the song itself resonated with me.
My work is influenced by Japanese performance calligraphy, and as I’ve reached increasing levels of mastery, I’ve begun to deny the accident. Each drip, each stroke, are visual records of intention. I believe a gesture can tell a story and invoke emotion, like Miles walking on stage and playing that first note. Simplicity is an illusion, after all. Anyone can paint circles. But every one of my marks carries a quarter century of practice behind them. Speaking authentically in one’s own voice is something that cannot be duplicated.