Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Written On A Napkin

I still get a kick out of using napkins as spur of the moment canvases for improvised language works and occasional drawings. For example, my Napkin Series is comprised of found (OK, permanently borrowed) high end white cloth napkins from restaurants that I then, later in the evening or the next day, use as a canvas to trace the outlines of my hand using archival markers of various colors. So, for example, the work "Napkin Series (Green)" includes a heavy white napkin from an excellent foodie joint in Miami and the hand tracing is done with an archival quality green marker. The thing is, I always trace the outlines of my right hand with my left and then I write inside the palm of the traced-out hand with my left hand as well. But, as you may have guessed, I'm right-handed, so the fun is in trying to write something that fits in the palm of my hand, is relatively centered and justified within the contours of the line, and that says something that I'm really feeling that day. With the "Green" version, now with a private collector, I wrote: "My right hand does not know what my left hand is doing."

To be sure, that one line says a lot about my contemporary arts practice.

I have a few paper napkin works selectively displayed in my studio as well, including the first study I did for the colorful Napkin Series. A "study," in this case, is my attempt to sell myself on an idea I have, and if I find it worthwhile, I invest more time in its development and see where it takes me.

In fact, many of the paper napkin studies I have around the studio and in archived boxes are where my works, some of them major, get seeded. Another example: the opening quote in Immobilite, "Every story is a travel story -- a spatial practice," comes from a napkin study following a critical reading of Michel de Certeau that I conducted with an artist friend in a Boulder coffeehouse (that one has a small self-portrait drawing too).

The reason I even mention all of this, as if it were important (it's not, but that's why I find it useful today), is that there is a cool breeze complementing the 75 degree heat of this spring afternoon and the breeze has allowed one of the brown paper napkin studies to take flight and land right in my lap. This particular napkin must have been splayed in a location I do not normally frequent because I had forgotten about it. There is no drawing on it but the fine dark blue marker combined with my "feel-good" flourish creates a kind of drippy absorption into the paper so that, to me, it feels like art.

Musing over the words, I read and then re-read the text:


breath spirit

rhythmic contours

of the shapely medium

"coming to terms"

with itself as

creative process.

Where do these 

generative thoughts

come from?

Is it The Deep Interior

or is it more

a manifestation

of the surface appearance

of things --- of mind grabs

(the same way we think 

of "screen grabs")

captured as digital

imprint on network


The third eye sees.


Obviously, it looks and reads better on paper.

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