Last night I put the finishing touches on my “Starfish Kites of Remembrance” for the Songs and Sorrows/Day of the Dead Exhibition at the Oakland Museum. While building these kites from layers of painted Mulberry and Unryu paper, and learning about the quite disturbing “Starfish Wasting Disease” that inspired my kite’s content, I’ve also been gradually moving our house and my studio.
Artists, packrats, hoarders and collectors all know how traumatic a physical change of space can be. I’ve now lived in California more than ten years and the artwork I’ve created, to my shock, filled an entire U-Haul truck. The process of packing my paintings, cataloging them and putting them into storage was a great purging but also felt upsetting. I was hugely anxious that the paintings would be damaged in transit or will be damaged in storage. I also became acutely aware of how many heavy and awkward objects I’ve brought into the world.
While dismantling my studio, I thought about some advice my fabulous artist-aunt Joan Tanner told me in one of our many “Downtrodden Artist Counseling Sessions.” She told me that the vigorous and consistent artist must become a “Master Archivist” of their own work, and that we must always be prepared for our archive to be called upon. During this moving process I’ve thought a lot about what my painting inventory may look like in another ten, twenty or even fifty years of vigorous art making. I may end up selling my work more frequently and being barely able to keep up with demand, but I also might accrue a barn-load of scarcely viewed art objects. The latter prospect sounds a touch frightening to me. Although, it may be one of the risks of the career.
I find it noteworthy that my final artworks in my Apgar Studio of five years, are light enough to glide through air. I took them outside to spray a protective fixative on them and photograph them in the perfectly even cast shadow that blankets my soon-to be-former backyard and I marveled at how effortlessly I carried them… yet they have such an unapologetic and vibrant presence! Hmmm. Maybe more work like this is still to come.
Below are some of my favorite studio shots from my time on Apgar Street. I’ll miss this simple closet-less bedroom whose drywall I be-speckled with chartreuse and riddled with screw-holes. In this room I estimate that I created nearly 300 drawings, paintings and cut paper pieces over the last five years and I have a bulging flat file and shed to prove it. The room echoes more now, even with just the heavy paneled art pieces gone. Until I have my barn-studio and my fabulously customized art storage system, I’m off to damage more rented drywall and hopefully start sharing some more of my inventory with the world.