Moving quickly over the past
Hello friend. It’s been just over a month since the last time I wrote. I’m sure you were pacing the halls late at night wondering when the next firehose-blast of universal truth and wisdom would arrive.
It’s here now. You can go back to bed.
I have several upcoming posts about my own work forthcoming. They’ve been a bit more difficult to get out, but I suppose that makes sense. Making, thinking, and writing about the art you make are all separate processes. I am having to go back and look more closerly at some of my recent drawings and paintings which has slowed the flow of words. In the meantime, writing has taken a back seat to family life, so let’s catch up...
As I stated in my last post, we bought a new house. The last six weeks have been a blitzkrieg of paint sprayers, trips to the hardware store, lost household items in unmarked boxes, heat pump repairs, crooked garage repairs, endless drywall anchors and lots of discussion over which bookshelf fits in what corner of the house.
It’s amazing what we acquire, and how much of those acquisitions are tailor fit to a specific place and time. We tried really hard to get rid of as much stuff as we could before we moved. We did pretty good. What is surprising now is the number of boxes we are filling with more things to get rid of as we unpack. Items we needed in the old house because of the shape of a wall, or the lack of a cupboard or because “there was no light behind that storage space that we no longer have now we have this extra light that we don’t need” no longer fit the new digs. Those things are tied to a time and place.
I tried to toss a lot of old artwork before the move. It was really hard to let go of some ideas, especially if I could still see what I was attempting to do. But as I was rushing to clean up and finish packing my old studio as we neared the closing date of our new house, I found myself increasingly intolerant of the old work I kept finding. (My productivity does not outweight my success rate.) The pressure of moving and uncovering hidden piles of work made me easily annoyed. Which made it much easier to gut and clean the past. This example below was a big canvas that provided a hiding place for spiders and earwigs. Wtf.
Old artwork carries a lot with it. I can see where I was in life when I made it, the studio I had at the time, the music I was listening to, the people I was spending time with, the kinds of art I was looking at. To throw it away is to break links to very specific memories, and a version of myself that I’ve moved on from. I don’t see myself or the world the same way as I once did. There is relief in cutting free the dead weight, and a touch of sadness in parting with versions of myself.
The moral of this story is everything has a time and place. Making room for the new means saying goodbye to the old. Also, throwing out old work is hard to do unless you are under a lot of pressure and about to have friends show up to help pack a moving truck and the thought of all your old nonsense filling the corners of a brand new house is just so obnoxiously annoying that you will happily toss it into a borrowed pickup truck and take it to the city dump.
Drawings, paintings, ideas, old world views, dried acrylics, aged newsprint, folders of collage materials… now sitting under particleboard furniture, rotting vegetables, broken picture frames, toxic cans of paint and stained mattresses in a landfill somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.