Thoughts on the opening last night...

The opening for the SLOMA show, Brushstrokes, was a marvelous experience. It’s such a wonderful experience compared to my life at the university. It was all art. No programming. No LMS (Learning Management System). There were a lot of good paintings in the show. There were a number of awards and I didn’t win anything but I can understand why. This round of paintings has been a bit restrained. I’ve been relying on subtle wordplay, small mind games and cleverness in my work. What the intention of the other artists is, I can’t be sure. But, I’m pretty sure this current round of work isn’t the most forceful artistic statement I can make. It’s nicely crafted. It’s cute. It’s clever. But, it doesn’t have the power that compelling art needs to have.

At this point, it appears that I can make my most forceful statement through the animations. In thinking through my life history, that’s not surprising. In my childhood, I spent a lot of time watching TV and, easily my favorite time of day was when the cartoons were on. One of my earliest recollections is of a dream that was a synthesis of life experience and an old MGM animation. Early one, I recognized the underlying malevolence inherent in the Warner Brothers cartoons that I loved as a kid. I remember in college, in my film history class, being fascinated by German Expressionist cinema, as well as the movies of Jean Cocteau. Then, later, much later, when I was teaching about digital culture at CSUMB, I learned how Japanese anime artists had used the animated form to deal with powerful emotional and spiritual issues and I’ve had tremendous admiration since then for their efforts to make animation a reflection of deep experiential issues.

These current animations are an attempt to blend those inclinations with the forcefulness of short form poetry and German Expressionist art. My paintings are about the intrigue of meaning and playful manipulation of visual convention. The animations have morphed into something with much more powerful intentions and I think that’s what art should be about, pushing the boundaries of the medium to open passageways of meaning, powerful meaning, shaped in a way that changes people’s lives.

I know it’s rather a delusional notion but I don’t care. If I can create work that can change how people see and feel, that’d be my life’s achievement. I can make images that charm and evoke a certain admiration for skill but so can a lot of other very talented people. Perhaps, these animations have something unique and powerful to offer. In the recent past, I’ve gotten feedback that my animated work is really getting at people’s sensibilities. Yeah! That’s what it’s all about.

Last night at the SLOMA opening (Brushstrokes), another member of the painter’s group approached me and told me she’d seen the Engendered Memory animation and she found the visuals and the sound, including the poetry, powerful and compelling. That was the best moment in the evening, though the whole event was really wonderful to be a part of. It’s the first time that I’ve been part of a relatively large-scale opening.