My Woody For Wood
I have fallen head over heels for wood. It’s always something I knew I could love, what with that surprising and voluptuous grain, furthermore enhanced by a piquant stain. But little did I know that I would end up at 39 falling in love with the actual act of building with wood. Today I find as much joy crafting a triptych’s worth of shallow boxes from a large slab of flat pine as I do drawing the India ink illustrations on cardboard when doing particular portraits of my muses as shown here in a piece I just completed, a commission for my friend Tara.
Recently, I attended the show Made in LA at the Hammer Museum, which is giving much deserved credit to a bevy of deserving Los Angeles artists of all ages. My favorite artist was one who was doing insane and delicate things with wood.
Zach Harris stood out for me because of his use of wood. Not only does he meticulously (and with an artsy-craftsy yet primal precision) create, carve and build his base structure and framework for his piece as an integral and sculptural work in wood, he proceeds to paint and create the artwork on this base in a way that presents both as a cohesive final expression of duality yet wholeness. The intricacies of the surroundings meld with the articulated patterns and shapes rendered in paint and together they make a sort of patchwork quilt of juxtaposed familiar imagery – original scenic displays for a contemporary age.
I realize that of late I am drawn to work (whether in my own creations or in the work of other artists) that emphasizes material and a sense of construction. Maybe it’s because in the manual labor of making something out of nothing, I cull evidence of my own mark making on existence. Maybe it’s because in my conceptual brain, psychologies and the ethereal essence of philosophy are becoming more and more hard pressed to feed me that with which my flesh and blood craves in concrete fashion. Maybe it’s because I am growing more grounded and like the fortification of the solid, earth beneath my feet. Whatever reason, I have the inherent feeling that my relationship with the scent of sawdust in a garage filled with power tools has only just begun.