This work is my contribution to the longstanding tradition of celebrating and recording visually the universal human activity of making and being affected by music. There are well known examples from all ages and cultures, from prehistoric petrographs to Bruegel, to Matisse, to Remington, Stuart and Benton.
As a longtime fan of what has come to be called Americana music, I know the kinds of vernacular venues- roadhouses, bars, outdoor and street festivals, where musicians, listeners and dancers do what they’ve been doing through recorded history. Although I go with the intention of possibly getting material for a piece, my role is not strictly that of an impassive observer. I participate in the event depicted. So, the art making begins with participating and documenting and ends with a finished artifact. I take hundreds of digital photos which I ‘mine” for visual information to reproduce, in black and white, a believable picture of the communal wave generated by the music. I try to recreate a “perfect moment” in that particular environment.
I use simple materials, black conte crayon, a polished gessoed panel, various abrasives and clear lacquer in a process that produces an image in, not on, the surface. It is a laborious process, the largest pieces take as much as 800 hours, but I believe the resulting artifact has a quality all its own and is worth the effort.
As to the obvious issue of scale, because most of the technique involves using my fingers and hands as tools, I need space to work to get the degree of verisimilitude needed. I consider each piece a tribute to the people and places shown, and others like them, wherever.