Yeah, bikes. How does that hold the particular friction between subject, material and technique in this body of art over the past two decades of my making?
It’s safe to say that I was invited to show at Lowell because of my bicycle drawings. Bicycle shadows are relentlessly visually engaging to me. For fifteen years the forms have pulled my materials and techniques forward as the resulting drawings supported the opportunity to do so.
Like most kids, my first independent navigations of the world were on a bicycle. There is a compelling relationship between physical output and the scope of experience offered in the terrain of San Francisco. I lived on one of those 25-degree hills and had to scale another half mile up dragging a 40-pound Schwinn to get to the Presidio entrance, where I could glide down a mile of eucalyptus forest to the dell… then roll a quarter mile up again on the inertia, in a time before speed bumps. Later, I was a bicycle messenger in SF’s gritty punk culture of Pop Tarts, cigarettes, and contempt for the yuppie bankers who turned away from our sweaty selves in elevators. Even in New York I biked to work but stopped because I arrived furious, having been trapped in the 18” between panel trucks on First Avenue.
I came to bicycles by way of their shadows.Read More
I was moving on from small works and looking for something bigger. Once you start looking at shadows, it doesn’t really stop, and eventually your eye will fall on an abused bike chained to a streetlamp, wheel bent in two. In shadow it becomes figurative: handle bars, wheels, pedals, and gear exchange are not anthropomorphic but have a direct relationship to my own hands and feet and seat. A bike hanging from the studio ceiling with a light falling through spills pure abstraction onto the page, with complexity and specificity that can only be found in direct observation from life.
Joni Mitchell said, “No one ever said to van Gogh ‘Paint me Starry Night Again.’” She was commenting on what it’s like to have mobs of people scream “Circle Game” over and over and over again at her concerts. She thought it was a problem exclusive to musicians with popular songs. Joni suggests that visual artists don’t experience the same pressure to create the same work in the same way that performers do. This has not been my experience.
Not only did others ask me to make specific compositions again, I did it to myself. When something really worked, I wanted to know why. After seeing Thomas Edison’s Dynamos in Miami Beach I made dynamos based on the idea of expanding energy. I made dozens of these. Broken in various ways—multiple pages or split and reversed or doubled. All to see when it fell apart. Many of my compositions examine the relative appeal of chaos and order. Others use famous compositions like the hand of God from the Sistine Chapel or The Dying Gaul from the Parthenon pediment with bike wheels substituting for human elements. It’s a really dumb idea. I wanted to see if the power held. It did.
While the subject of this work may be bicycles, the center is always drawing and the long course between the beginning and full material realization. Included in this site, you will find an evolution of works from inception through multiple variations in idea, technology, and material between 2001 and 2021.
Viewers are often interested in the bicycle, while I am interested in making. When I am fully present in a long, smooth line, my hand blips with my heartbeat. I can see it in the finished piece. Just like the glide down the hill, it is a record.Read Less