Let’s Dance

Let's Dance
oil and wax resist on paper, 1983; 24 x 24 in

A couple of months after moving to NYC was a fairly prolific time for me. I was continuing my experiments with resists on paper. This one was a mix of wax crayon and oil stick. My roommate had a cassette of David Bowie music that was played quite often, and Let’s Dance was one of the songs that had been released that year. It had an influence on the imagery and title of this piece.

Null and Void

Null and Void
Null and Void, gouache on paper, 1983; 14 x 14 in

This is another painting on paper from 1983. I still enjoy the immediacy and dynamism of the composition. The title is portrayed within the piece by two means: taking null as meaning zero, there are zero-like shapes moving around the “void” and they are negated by the lines crossing through them; the entire background is muted by white paint covering — also nullifying — what is below it. In this case, null and void can represent the creative process of deciding this over that, an ongoing battle between the real and imagined, foreground and background, color and shape that suggests the scene plays out in a more expansive area than the slice of void pictured.

The Three Graces Ride the D Train

The Three Graces Ride the D Train, wax resist on paper, 1984; 12 x 12 in

In the last half of 1984, I was living in the Bronx and riding the D train on a daily basis. One day heading home, I saw three teenage girls grabbing and releasing a subway pole while shifting their weight in a manner that resembled a choreographed dance. I immediately thought of Sandro Botticelli’s 15th century painting of the Three Graces in his “Primavera”. Since I was using silhouetted figures and had embarked on a modern-day version of Greek mythology in my paintings at that time (i.e., a painting from 1983, “Venus Visits Manhattan” was the first I exhibited in NYC in 1984), the scene had to become inspiration for a resist painting. The painting itself is wax crayon on paper, with an India ink wash resist.

Hardly A Gesture At All

Hardly A Gesture At All
Hardly A Gesture At All, gouache and pencil on paper; 1983; 18 x 18 in

The year was 1983, when I moved to NYC. Among the art supplies I had brought with me was some used copier paper. The place where I worked had a copier that had to be cleaned once a week. When it went through the process, I noticed it spit out long sheets of paper embedded with striations and splotches of gray. I started collecting them to use as a base for drawings and paintings. The piece I choice to use here — only a couple of months after arriving in the city —  had a darker background than the usual copier-cleaning sheets, so I planned accordingly with lighter strokes of yellow ochre, violet and white gouache. Controlled scribbles of black, blue and violet pencil completed the composition. This piece straddles that world between painting and drawing, and uses the positive/negative, push/pull interplay that I still employ in my work today.