Eye Got Out of the Way

Summer 2012

Twenty two years ago I began the path of being an artist. The first few years it was a selfless pursuit and the path led the way. I was given enough inspiration, meaning "in spirit", to confirm on some different level that I should be an artist. Then I got in the way. The past 15 years I detoured from my the path and just the past two years have I been brought back and surprisingly closer to the end, or at least much farther ahead on the path. The detour was because "I got in the way". My reactions to life often didn't seem to fix things and I now realize sometimes obstacles can make us aware and are actually opportunities.

So in the pun that I titled this show with, change I to eye and you get an example of form over something more real. The eye of our senses reacts to sense objects and sometimes not to our benefit over time. The eye I am referring to here is completely different than the "I "our mind and ego identifies with and is not referring to the use of our senses, or the eyes in our heads.

First off, it means the artist must separate himself from his ego which is essential. The objective of art should be to induce the viewer to the notion that we are not seperate from anything. It is the ego that can cause this seperation. That, and life got in the way of distracts us from looking inside ourselves for what we need. The big I, the ego, gets caught up in all the drama of highs and lows. Art should give the viewer an infintesimal fragrance that it suggests the underlying consciousness, an equanimity. This very small moment is a glimpse of something that is beyond form, not even about the subject of the painting. Somehow a painting can provide a quiet calm and not just an escape to the viewer. Other art forms and things in life can also do this but paintings work for me.

Second, many people think from looking at a painting that the artist provides the viewer his unique way of seeing through his work. This gets combined with some judgements usually concerning the talent or background of the Artist. This "artist's eye" isn't what the artist sees but what he allows others to see. Degas and many others have said this same thing. It has to come out of the artist and isn't from any inspiration from outside of himself. This means an artist's style changes over time as the artist gets closer to his purpose. It is a lifelong search and the goal of Cezanne, who I believe was right.

Thirdly, the eye in the title refers to the senses which can get in the way of this glimpse of conscousness that the artist is trying to achieve. It sees, feels, hears surface forms and creates opposites and relationships that are unique to each person which means they might not be real. Beyond the senses there may be a different eye. The feeling of Love. The tingling sensation you get watching a beautiful musical performance. These are also glimpses of the notion that everything is the same if we really really look, not just with the eye but only through developing ourselves as a being.

I have selected these paintings as my best effort to put this glimpse before the viewer at this point on my path. It is okay to call it that as everybody is on a path. To become conscious means being able to see that the path is in the way at times. It is what Cezanne was after and allowed others to do. It isn't about method or talent but a steadfastness of the artist to get to the essense of everything. And one word you can substitute for this everything is art. That is the reason for the letters on the front of this building. But as soon as you give it form by naming it it is gone. So you can call it peace, equanimity, love, a higher being, a higher way of being. All of these things are pre verbal concepts.

Maybe relating these abstract ideas to Harbor Springs may help you understand.

In the past I have tried to "capture" Harbor Springs in my work. Maybe you have ideas of what makes this place so special to you. And we think of these ideas as things, as parts of Harbor. It might be the Post Office, a Willow tree in Weque, the color Yellow of an awning, a Guerney's sandwich or a Big J Club, a vintage car, familiar faces. As a painter, maybe it is the Bluff looking out with an aerial view of everything. That is casting a big net. We think if we think of enough things (forms) that we can add it all up to be Harbor Springs. A critical mass. A whole. Art doesn't work like that; a summation of parts. Parts are forms. As soon as you name something it goes away and can't be added up. There is no general theory of relativity because things can be understood only to a certain level which is only on the surface, and never adds up to the mystery that is nature. Art is a harmony parralel to that which is nature-Cezanne. As an artist I try to realize the essence of this place. And another word for essence could be a glimpse of something we know is beyond our eyes. A Surprising but somehow familiar feeling deep inside.

A painting can be successful only if it creates this glimpse, this notion, that is parralell with what is happening to us in Harbor Springs. What is really going on is that for a split second you realize somewhere that you are no different. In terms of Harbor Springs and why it is so special it is simple. You let yourself be Harbor Springs. You don't see yourself as seperate. We "allow" ourselves to be a place. This is the way we should feel all the time, wherever we are but we can't because it isn't as easy for us as it is here. This is the way we felt as infants when we couldn't tell where we stopped and the world began. This gift of Harbor Springs should give us hope. Notice also that when you are in Harbor you may notice yourself feeling more gratitude. There is a reason for that. My paintings, if they work, and one day they will, suggest, if only for an instant, that we may be a part of something more which our eye cannot even fathom. Something similar to what Harbor Springs does to us.

This instant gives us hope. It needs to be revealed. Sometimes we need to get out of the way to see it. And if we can see it that is all we need.