The world I dream inside
my studio mirrors the world outside it--the sprawling twenty-first
century chaos driven and dominated by irrational emotions. It
strikes me sometimes as humorous, sometimes as terrifying. In
looking over the evolution of my work over the last few years,
it is increasingly coming to reflect a new Dark Ages viewed through
a comic-apocalyptic lens. I sometimes reflect on Goya's etching,
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Goya lived during
the Age of Enlightenment, a time during which the Constitution
of the United States was drafted. We are living at a time where
our President talks to God for approval to make war and shreds
that same Constitution. The Age of Enlightenment has passed.
I make prints, drawings, paintings, comic books, figures out
of clay. Living just outside of Albuquerque I watch the cranes
flying in for the winter while up above them I notice the jet
trails of fighter bombers. If it were to secede from the Union,
the state of the New Mexico would be the third largest nuclear
power on earth. Yet most of the art plastered on every available
gallery wall space reflects some kind of insipid fantasy of a
sentimentalized nature or a sentimentalized culture. Most art
seems designed just like corporate advertising--to flatter the
viewer and collector or buttress their delusions. Art is something
to harmonize with "contemporary lifestyles which could be
more accurately described as a deathstyles.
My work derives from of my madness--a
fever that drives me to make visible an internal world shaped
by the fear and anxiety of the society I live in.
I don't make any artistic claims.
I have no idea what art is. Some French guy named Duchamp elevated
a urinal to iconic status a few years back. That about sums
it up. Reading art criticism in a magazine is like reading some
kind of exquisite Martian humor. What are those Martians going
on about now? Try reading Donald Kuspit describing his religious
ecstasy over a colored fluorescent light bulb if you want a good
belly laugh. So much for contemporary art.
I just throw down whatever mess
is in my head. I've picked up certain skills over the years
that allow me to structure the mess. But I have little idea where
the forms and creatures come from? Why do certain forms resonate
or appeal to me? Why do certain characters breathe and live
in my minds eye?
I watched a DVD recently of the
1961 Disney movie, Babes in Toyland. The story was typical
Disneyesque childish nonsense--no doubt derived from early test
marketing. But the sets, costumes, colors, facial gesticulations,
etc., were mesmerizing even now. The impact of having my subconscious
bathed in those strange surreal fantasy worlds is inescapable.
Long before being shaped by the Vietnam war and the psychedelic
drug culture, my visual world was being shaped by popular culture
fever dreams. I remember being in my Uncles guest room when
I was six years old or so and while everyone else was asleep
I would watch the wallpaper metamorphose in all manner of bizarre
forms. The earliest nightmare I recall was being escorted to
Hell in an elevator operated by some corrupted version of the
I suppose my work could be viewed
as The Utopian World of Sixties Comics and Animation Gone Bad.
It would be nice to think it's just some kind of personal madness.
But try taking a stroll through the late night animation Universe
sometime--now that ain't no Walt Disney world. Or wander through
some video hell where you blast heads into mincemeat. Or spin
the dial of degeneracy-from COPS, many episodes filmed locally,
to Fear Factor to every variety of humiliate the contestants.
Hardly new but picking up speed. I don't think we're in Kansas
At a gut level it feels to me
like I'm recording the story of a culture entering a final stage
of decay. But paradoxically, I labor mightily to make the work
as compelling and well-crafted as possible. So deep within me
there seems to be a belief or hope that there will be a future
where the virtues of faith, hope, charity and such will emerge
triumphant. I'm not particularly happy with the role of PROPHET
OF DOOM. But you play the hand that's dealt you.