if a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it even make a sound?

there are many difficulties when it comes to moving to a new city, hundreds of miles away, completely alone. it’s relatively easy to adapt to the general scenery, but the closer to a personal life you zoom, the farther away everything else feels. keeping with the tree metaphor, i was in a rain forest full of lush greens in the pacific northwest; now i am among distant & groomed palms under the los angeles sun.

was life in portland glamorous? certainly not. there’s nothing particularly attractive about spending the better part of a decade living in art warehouses—but what was lacking in basic utilities was made up for by a sense of personal fulfillment. we had community, we were developing a sense of greater purpose. with that came a certain gravity, and the various artists involved all pushed one another as creatives & as people. not by decree, but just to show a sense of growth from one month to the next in the shows we’d put on. it wasn’t some trendy gallery art-walk feature, it was better: artists pushing themselves & then coming together to feature one another because they could—because we were all proud of it, of each other & of ourselves.

cdg shirt, beginnings of a new work

back to painting as well

this has been one of my more profound losses in moving to los angeles. the sudden lack of that community became a lack of self—of how & what i worked on & why. there, i was a tree close-in with others, part of a local ecology. here, i’m just another transplant, needing to find a way to fit in the natural order of things; a way to stay alive, stay functional. a way to have a sense of purpose once again.

it’s not as if the same art-based communities don’t exist here—obviously la is full of artists. but those aren’t easy to just show up to. it took years to build up what we had in pdx—that is not just suddenly found or created. in the meantime, i’ve only lost my center of gravity, i’ve fallen out of balance with the big questions behind my own practice: what am i looking to say? why do this at all?

these questions turn into dire challenges fast once left to fester. i’ve been spinning like a top here for two years because of them & my inability to come up with any good answers.

any piece of art will end up only as serious as the artist takes it. casual creativity ends up with passive results. being as unfocused as i have been over my time here, what little i’ve accomplished has been remarkably forced. a brush feels like a foreign object. plans are under-considered. what does get finished is painfully lacking.

the idea of seriousness in art & the artist is always a contestable one, but in an age like ours as the planet is literally on fire & the wealthy just use paintings as an asset class, there’s even more weight to the question, why does this matter? there are so many other necessary walks of life right now—education, the sciences, firefighting. why take artists seriously—much less, how does the artist take themselves as such? how do i?

through my various reconciliations over the past year, i suppose it’s mostly that i can’t do any of that other shit. nor would i really want to. i was only ever really good at chemistry, and those types tend to always end up at some big pharma job. (as an aside, i can’t imagine what it would be like to toil away at some hellhole like pfizer for years, only to finally have the opportunity to do some good—like develop a world-saving vaccine—only to have a bunch of people hate you for it.)

what i can do, what i love to do, in the end, is make art.

inspiration on the shelves …

… & on the bed

kitchens are for preparation

moving around has its difficulties. the only sustainable action is to keep moving; to stop requires that process of rooting oneself in foreign & unfamiliar terrain. the only way i’ve ever been able to do so has been through that process of making art—i’ve never really forged connection or community without it.

so i’ve begun the projects that have been on my mind for some time—work i’ve been avoidant of for years, ideas i’ve been intimidated by. inspiration rooted in fear is strange like that. but it’s this or being forced to leave the last city in the usa i want to live in—that, or finding myself as another tree in the forest without anyone to hear it fall.