• Christopher Rico


I'm writing this on the first Sunday of 2021, but I've been in the studio (so far) every day this year. I tend to take a week or two off during the holidays to be with family and get some perspective on the work. This year was no different.

The year that was is slowly fading into the rearview mirror. There's a few weeks left as the nonsensical and doomed coup plays out its last gasps. At this point I think most of us are more annoyed than afraid or anxious. As we move forward in history, the gravity of how close we came to the collapse of the republic will hopefully hit home for everyone; on all sides. My distant fear is that we are not completely out of the woods yet; that, unlike the Tea Party movement (short-lived but significant) the emerging GOP factions will be with us for a while, and the divisions, power struggle, and rhetoric more intense. To what end, I haven't a clue.

I'm dissatisfied with the larger works in the studio right now. I've been reworking "14" but I'm not convinced it can be salvaged. Win some lose some, and though I have a pretty high percentage of successful paintings, no one is 100% at the bat. In formal terms it just isn't working. The space doesn't work. It feels contrived to me, and I'm not sure why. As I work through it, hopefully I will find out. A section is drying about 20' away as I write this.

There were many casualties of 2020, but travel was one of the hardest. I have gone to NYC at least twice (and often 4+ times) a year every year for over a decade. I met the painter Mark Zimmermann in 2009, at a mutual friend's opening in DUMBO. We went on a multi-day drinking adventure and it was his counsel that I started my going to the city on a regular basis. Those trips were often epic, at times legendary, but they also connected me to an art world that I felt comfortable in. I became a fixture, and as I met more and more people things just started to click. This last year was hard being away from a city I have grown to love so much, but in fairness the city wasn't itself this year either.

So it's a new year. I'm not one for resolutions. Instead I try to find a mantra for each year and repeat it and try to live by it. It sometimes takes a few weeks, but I find it. Like many, there's so much life I want to squeeze into this year; travel, connecting with people, being in crowds, hugging. I miss the energy and exhausting experience of art openings. I miss walking along crowded streets, cramming into tiny bars, encountering chance events. Mostly I miss my friends and simple human connection. I'm fortunate to have an amazing group of studio mates, and I hope we are able to get closer in '21.

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