Having spent a full month in Virginia, I feel more and more at home. I often find myself in the mornings sipping coffee in my painting studio staring out the window at Mill Mountain watching the leaves change colors.
The last two weeks of October I have spent time painting, drawing, reading, exploring Virginia and traveling to Tennessee. I am trying to take advantage of all of these fully open days. Andrea, Dylan, and I drove the George Washington National Forest to roam around in the trees. Pictures provided so you may see how beautiful it is here.
I also went to visit my aunt in Nashville, Tennessee for a weekend. Just a quick three-hour plane ride. The residency is very flexible with things like this.
So far I’ve made seventeen paintings, one drawing, and I’m about the start on a sculpture made out of play dough that incorporates elements from the paintings.
I have the resources, time, and space to work on ideas that I’ve had for the past year. I’ve held onto short notes, and small sketches from the past hoping something exciting might come from them. Now, having worked on these ideas in the studio, I can weed through the good and the bad, slowly gaining a footing on what it is I would like to make while in Roanoke and continue working on in the future. I don’t think I can say this enough; it is such a treat to have the time and the space to work. I realize what I will need as far as a studio space when I return home and how many hours I will need to spend on projects to ‘keep the dream alive’ so to speak. I have a feeling November will be a month of narrowing down and creating a substantial body of work for a potential show at AW.
Even though it had only been one month since arriving in Roanoke, I began to feel as though I had been here for at least two, maybe four to eight, months. My daily rituals have maintained their importance as an essential part of my integration into the culture of the South; nothing has changed except my shot grouping, which has improved considerably due to employing critical breathing and trigger technique that ensures consistency in precision and accuracy. I have begun to feel at home.
Excerpt from my novel:
We pulled into the alley behind the Frank Corletzki Gallery and saw a small crowd lingering around the base of the single file stairway entrance smoking cigarettes dressed unusual to me but ordinary to themselves; the whole situation seemed so blasé and I couldn’t have been more excited to enter and by now the zoomers were really starting to kick in. I could hear the loud chatter from outside and when I opened the big steel door I was overwhelmed by the combination of the blinding fluorescent white light and glares and the smell of linseed oil mixed with overly hopped carbonated beverages; the type that nobody actually likes but drinks because it is in. It is common knowledge that people only go to openings to schmooze and be seen and show each other up fashion wise and this is okay because it is fun and only part of human nature to compete and sometimes if you are lucky there will be a celebrity sighting.
Jane disappeared into the crowd and as I was left alone I had to awkwardly make eye contact with strangers and do that weird pseudo smile that you usually do when you make awkward eye contact with either a stranger or someone that you sort of know but don’t know enough or don’t care about enough to approach and engage in conversation; this is okay because the feeling is usually mutual. It’s the type of smile that you give someone as if you are acknowledging their existence, ‘yes, I see you are a human’. People never give this type of smile to dogs. Recently I had began to feel slightly jaded towards painting as the naivety of the contemporary examples felt overtly ironic and insincere; however, McNair’s paintings seemed to instantly flood me out of the drought. Flat grounds with floating repetitions of crude but gently abstracted figurations of arms and bodies and tea pots that appeared as stop motion video on pause. And along with the vibrant saturated colors, they seem to assure us that the ongoing push and pull of serious vs play can be combined to tell us we don’t have to choose a side. But maybe that was just the mushrooms because I started to realize I was spending as much time staring at the wall as I was at the paintings. Upon inspection they seemed to be made up of millions of interlinking ‘T’ shapes that expanded and contracted with each breath and it reminded me that I was starting to really trip. About a minute later Jane found me and she had some San Pellegrino, I asked for a sip and the carbonation felt like an atom bomb of Pop Rocks detonated in my mouth. Jane was laughing hysterically and said ‘oh my god’ and she pulled out her phone and I thought she was taking a photo of me but it turned out she was taking a video (she shows me the video later and she was laughing because when I took a sip I did not swallow nor close my mouth so the San Pellegrino poured out of my mouth and dribbled down my shirt). I began to lose sense of time (this is truly an indescribable experience and can only be understood after ingesting copious amounts of zoomers, by the way zoomers are psilocybin mushrooms, or magic mushrooms if you are really thick) and kept pulling my phone out of my pocket and checking the time and the phone felt wet and soft like it was beginning to mold between my fingers; I had to keep bringing myself back down. Jane and I were standing in the corner zoning out when she looked over at me and told me that it was time to go because she too began to lose sense of time and I had begun to rub and scratch at the paintings.
The first two weeks. Alternative Worksite in Roanoke, VA
My first two weeks in Roanoke have been about materials, materials, materials, and ideas, ideas, ideas. Its been about getting the studio set up, full of inspiration, and ready to start new work. I’ve been filming around Roanoke, experimenting with new materials and objects, and getting a rush of new ideas.
A big part of these first weeks has also been about exploring and getting to know Roanoke. I spent a few days on the Greenway bike path. One day I rode all the way to a coffeeshop in Grandin, and other days to downtown Roanoke for coffee and research at Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea.
Meeting people in the town has been one of the most surprisingly rewarding things so far. It’s an understatement to say I’m charmed by the kind, and extremely friendly and people people in this town! All of us in the house have talked about how inspired we are by the people here. It’s really something I look forward to more while I’m here.
Something I made the last week were items for the Swap Meet at High Desert Test Site 2017 (the Swap Meet curated by Lydia Glenn-Murray, and HDTS curated by Aram Moshayedi and Sohrab Mohebbi). They are little T-shirt musing from an installation of mine and and hanging tapestries.