Mission Statement/Brief History


Pine Hill School, oil/canvas, 32″ x 42″, 1982-88

I suppose the mission of this Blog, which I’m calling Burning Down the Couch–soon to be complete with tif graphic–is the same as my Artist Mission: painting/drawing/etc, what I’m thinking about rather than what I’m looking at.

Humboldt County, Northern California, where Nancy and I live, is a very beautiful place. In the late ’60s the Hippie Diaspora meant a lot of interesting people wanting to escape the cities for the country ended up here. Now Humboldt seems like some kind of Third World country in terms of Radical Politics hooking up with Weed Economics.

You’d think that with all the Radical politics, etc, there’d also be a radical Art Market around here, but that turns out not to be the case. What sells around here is LANDSCAPE. That’s the perceived notion, anyway. Accordingly, there’s a small army of Landscape Painters in Humboldt. I’m sure they form a significant percentage of the artist population here, which is possibly the highest per capita in the State.

In my earlier days I spent a fair amount of time painting landscapes,in a more Urban style, maybe because I live in town. I sold most of them, too, but at some point I began to feel like I was repeating myself. I became bored with straight Landscape. I wanted to do more than be some form of Human Instamatic. I wanted to create something more than a record of a building or a pastoral view, so at some point things began to change.

I found I’d become bored with Western Art. I remember going to the Library, searching for SOMETHING. Ended up finding Leni Riefenstahl’s books on the Nuba tribes in Sudan and was totally captivated. For the next 2 years I always had one or more of those books–Last of the Nuba, and People of Kau, in my possession. Copied I don’t know how many of Riefenstahl’s images and found a way out of what I perceived as the Trap of Western Art.

When I emerged from that haze, a couple years later, I rediscovered Picasso and Cubism, and went there for 15 years. Quit oil painting for 25 years. Switched to acrylics, which I never really liked, but I was getting too much of the Turpentine Moan–migraine-like headaches, HORRIBLE. I was pretty much a Post-Modern Cubist for 15 years. As usual, I eventually grew bored and needed to change direction.

What got me into Picasso/Cubism was Collage, or more properly, Photomontage. I’ll have more to say about that sometime in the future. I had no real plan, but at some point I came up with the Collaged image of what became the Big Mutant, which became the cover of The Mars Volta’s Amputechture album. Once I got to that place, I knew I was set for life. I knew then that I could mine magazine pages and end up with images that not only could reflect in some way what I was thinking about, but that these images would also be recognizably MINE.

So that’s what this Blog is about. I’m painting more what I’m thinking about than what I’m looking at, in contrast to plain-aire Landscape painting, say. No pretty pictures, nothing that looks good over the couch. I’ll share my work and mention my Heroes and Inspiration. I enjoy doing this–hoping you’ll enjoy reading about whatever’s to come.

Next: John Flocken/Zonezar