Can you tell me a little bit about you?
HI! I am a 36 year old self taught visual artist from Portland, Maine. In 2003/2004 I attended Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. After 3 semesters I took a leave of absence with the specific intention to build a studio practice and work any job that would facilitate it. Over the years, amongst many jobs, I have worked as a lab assistant cleaning test animal cages, a security guard, furniture salesman, and a one on one special education assistant. Today, I live in Brooklyn, New York and continue to refine the techniques and ideas brought forth through the time dedicated to my studio practice. I am currently still on a leave of absence.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
When I was 7 years old I wanted to have a garage sale on a Sunday afternoon in November. I grew up in Maine. My mother said that I couldn’t just have a spontaneous garage sale. I responded to my mother by asking her if I could sell the pile of dirt in the front lawn that had been left over from a project my parents had recently worked on. She said yes. I didn’t think dirt was quite attractive enough so I asked if it was also alright if I put some of our National Geographic magazines out for sale. She said yes, and also offered to make me some cookies, that where shaped like miniature hamburgers, to add to my inventory.
I made a small table out of cardboard, put the table on top of the dirt pile, hung a hand made “SALE” sign on the front, spread out an array of magazines and hamburger cookies, and waited for my patrons.
After 2 frigid hours on top of that dirt pile a man in a station wagon pulled up to my house, got out of his car, and approached me with questions related to the price of my dirt. I told the man the price, he told me how much he needed and together we loaded the back of his car with cold soil. He did not buy any National Geographic magazines or miniature hamburger cookies. After the man left I triumphantly went inside to show my parents the money I had made. This story would be told and retold amongst family until I was about 30 years old. It is still talked about today but the epilogue changed everything about how it is remembered and perceived.
When I was 30 my mother and I were retelling our perceptions of the famed dirt sale over a telephone call. She would end up admitting to me that the man who bought the dirt was indeed the husband of one of her friends and that she had called him and asked him to come over and buy some of my dirt. I nearly dropped the phone out of my hand when I heard this. My entire life I had believed that my singular desire to act on an idea, to create a reality and invite others to engage with it, to commit and not be afraid of vulnerability was enough to succeed. She told me the sale was a set up. The tooth fairy can be real but often times it is not. Often times the tooth fairy is just a guy in a station wagon with nothing to do that your mom called.
After a few days of analyzing this new information, my shock and disappointment crystalized and now appeared as precious; lustrous. This revelation bolstered my choice to pursue art more than anything else ever has. The dirt sale became an analogy for an artist and the entire art world for me. Fuck that! It seemed to be a fitting example of the entire world of relationships and progress. We cannot do anything alone. We rely on each other for help and love and support and guidance. My mother saw an artist grappling with big ideas and limited resources so she stepped in and gave a push. She convinced someone else to get up and engage and that person did just that. A circuit was completed.
I would later become interested in art through idolizing my older sister who was and is a very talented artist. Significant moments amassed and my exposure to art steadily increased. Those times are important too and maybe a little more literal as far “discovering art” goes. However, to answer your question, I realized I wanted to make art when I was 7 years old, sitting on a pile of dirt.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I am exposed to ubiquitous diversity and challenges constantly while living in New York. On top of that I am surrounded by artists who also want to analyze reality and express it through symbols. I feel very fortunate to be working in a place that actively promotes mutation and therefore creative evolution.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
Similar to Native American beliefs or Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse, I see a world where every single thing is endowed with a spirit. A powerful and chaotic and absurd and magic spirit that is able to guide and amaze. Im interested ideas that promote deep exploration into common objects and relationships. Im attracted to constant reinterpretation. Contraction and expansion on micro and macroscopic levels.
What is your process like?
My process always begins as a haphazard ordeal. I explore until I can create a working production system that yields an object that I’m attracted to. Then I tend to produce work in a serial fashion until I become too aware of every nuance. When I am too comfortable and am not able to act naively or intuitively with a series of work I leave it just long enough to forget how exactly I did it before. It all begins chaotically, then calms and finds a rhythm, and as soon as I notice the rhythm I disrupt it and send it back to chaos.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
One time I was holding two wooden dowels together at a particular angle and drilling a hole through them both in order to then join them with glue and a smaller dowel. I was sitting in a chair and simply holding the wood and cordless drill out in front of me. My hand slipped a little and I put the spinning drill right into my finger. I dropped everything to the floor and watched the new hole in my pointer finger bleed. I quickly wrapped my wound in paper towel and used a small pump clamp to hold the paper towel in place. I picked up the two dowels and the drill and started over. It’s strange in any circumstance to omit safety or self preservation for an idea. It’s interesting to me that there is a mental boundary that everyone can cross where staying physically healthy is outweighed by commitment to a belief or goal. I suppose that’s strange.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I work as an art handler for galleries and collectors in NYC.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
If you get tired, pull over. If you get hungry, eat something.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Go that way really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
It is absolutely necessary to have a community. You must have the love and insight of others to progress. A community is what you aim your love towards, well any energy force really, but let’s just say love. Like echo location, you send your message towards a mass and when it returns you know where you are.
What is your studio like?
My studio rules. I just recently rigged up a homemade vacuum chamber using wood, plastic sheeting and… a vacuum. Now I can sand wood inside and not make everything dusty and toxic. Plus, It looks like I am handling plutonium when I am working on a sculpture!
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
It’s important for me to interact with my studio at any level every day. That’s why I live in it. I don’t have to conjure the mind set because there is always something that needs work which fits my shifting mood or motivation. Some days are good for painting, some are good for building, others are good for starring without purpose. A very important ritual for me, however, is learning how to leave just long enough to collect new experiences that will ultimately effect what I want to work on when I get home.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Not significant. Made a very intentional choice not to attend art school.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Trying to balance detrimental feelings of art making as a narcissistic practice vs. the joy of expression and collective nature of idea evolution. Also, writing; what an absolutely wretched yet somewhat required facet of this pursuit.
How would you define “success” in art?
The same way I would attempt to explain the difference between an out of focus picture of a sunrise and a sunset.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
My two person show at last year’s Spring Break Art Fair in New York City was very exciting for me and having work published in
Let’s Panic Magazine was a great privilege.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently getting ready to have a solo booth at this year’s Spring Break Art Fair where I’ll be showing the entirety of my Tell Me Again project. Tell Me Again is a project I worked on for 19 months in which I replaced the majority of my VHS collection with hand painted abstract facsimiles. 154 paintings in total, with dozens and dozens of concept drawings and additional sculptures to support the project. Along with this upcoming show at Spring Break, I am preparing for the Wassaic Project’s group summer exhibition and some other group shows here in New York and in California. I am making new fingernail sculptures, and I plan on making a new zine this year as well as return to portraiture and eventually begin some additions to the Tell Me Again series.