Showing posts from June, 2012

Leaving Alcatraz

I'm beginning my sixth year of work on the same project, a long painting of the city of San Francisco. It took some time to find the right view to paint. I found it on the island of Alcatraz, near the summer solstice, in the evening. Only during this time of year does the north face of the city light up.  Even though I live here, I conduct a long-distance romance with my subject. Since about 2009, I only see her one night a year. I feel like the young man in The Night Visiting Song , a traditional folksong from Scotland, sung here by Kate Rusby. Walking around the crowds waiting to enter the prison, I climb the steep hill with my equipment, my knees protesting every step. When I stagger to the top, panting away, there she is, stretched out on the opposite shore. I say, "Hi, Honey. Did you have a good year? Just let me look at you. I do believe you're more beautiful tonight than the day we met."  My time on the island is not comfortable.

Packing Up

I hate my possessions and dream of living in empty rooms. Despite this desire, I accumulate stuff, like everyone else. No one forced these things on me. At some point, I thought my life required additional equipment. Just like everyone else, once I get something, I have a horrible time letting go of it. Somewhere in my art bin there are fine etching tools. I have not made an etching in thirty years. Thirty. Years. But I can't let go of the tools, because one day, long after I'm dead, in an alternate universe I'll never visit . . . I'll use them. No, I won't. I'll never use them, but I'm powerless to throw them out. I make honest efforts to unburden myself from this stuff. I've given away books, furniture, appliances, and sculptures filled with glycerin. I received a few more inches of breathing room, but I was always disappointed with the result. I wanted to roller skate through the living room.  The problem with trying to improve my