Progress: Bottles and boats, clouds and thorns

Bottles began emerging in one of the large plastered rectangles I’ve been reworking this winter–bottles of liquor multipying in the shadows, fulminating angry thorns, cooking up hooch. Theses bottles are symbols of my own addictive habits, and those of my lineage; and they’re stand-ins for people, like puppet peasants or chuckling ravens. Their proliferation seems a good sign to me–proof of life in a process my tidy intellect threatened to put shipshape before the paintings were even begun. With the birth if the bottles, paintings that were supposed to be landscapes became still lives, and the lyrical became the bluesy. 

  
Today I worked on two images of the Ark, a theme I’ve been stuck in for months–the dry boat, the promised relief from the weight of our collective sins stuck on land and awaiting the flood that is both destruction and redemption. I’m interested in the way the containing space feels flat and small, like a room in Degas’ house, or flat and vast, like a room in an angel’s memory palace.

   
In my mind the black stars are bitter crows, the fey folk of my American heart. They echo the stars on the first Old Glory, and mutter cryptic prophecies. 

Yet to come–the dancing blackthorn, crawling up from the bowels of the boat.

 
There is faith behind this image. This image is one of the mysteries that motivates this whole body of work. It’s the faith of a younger self holding his adult’s hand and looking out at the desert sky. The faith of standing on a most delicate desert and swimming in a sky older than any country.

Yet to come: modeling the boat and the land.

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