Friday, January 14, 2011

You Are Here

The Meditation Device, 5" X 6", inquire here for print.
There you are before the polar bear in a snowstorm thinking haven't I got anything to say at all?  And then it hits you.  Just make a mark.  Then another.  And so on.  This is ridiculous.  Keep going. 

Enrique Montenegro my beloved teacher told me once, "A great artist can make a masterpiece out of a can of shoe polish and a stick."  I had been lamenting my sad lot in life over how all the art stars had the finest sable brushes, linen canvas, Windsor Newton paints, groovy studios, all the right friends and connections.   Mr. Montenegro was about as down to earth as one could get.  He always made me feel better somehow.  And you couldn't put anything over on him.  He had a reputation for being a particularly tough painting teacher.  Bring him on, I thought, as I had signed into the course.  He had studied at the Art Students League under Reginald Marsh.  But I was ready.  I painted with fervor. With quick dashing gusto I painted a giant sad bald head, and then a smaller semi angry bald head within it--a profound statement worthy of me the gifted art student.  He called the class around, said it reminded him of Francis Bacon (he was being very charitable).  But in my mind I was now a star.   My buddy Joe was sitting by a girl doing a painting of a bowl of grapes--hundreds of them.  Montenegro looked at it and said, "maybe one more grape", and walked away.   Joe and I burst into laughter.  "Maybe one more grape " became the standard critique for all art.  What a guy, Montenegro, incredible dry sense of humor.  Imagine such a renown artist having to deal with inane art students all day.   But it never seemed to get to him. 

You're running out of room to put marks.  So put more marks in between the marks.  Yeah, but... 

"If you have something to say write a book", Montenegro would say.  "Just shut up and paint."  I loved the guy.  I was devastated to see him pick up and move to Albuquerque.   I found out yesterday that my beloved teacher passed away 9 years ago.  He was 86.   

Ok that's really it.  No more.  If you put any more marks down they'll start touching.  And you know from experience if the marks touch too much the piece is ruined.  Why?  Because then the eye goes right to that point in the matrix, like a "You Are Here" arrow.  Besides four hours have gone by, and you've said nothing. 

Oh--Hi Joe--where-ever you are. 


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