The paintings in “Stateside,” depict sites I have discovered in the American landscape that reflect what is happening in the culture and economy at large. Following three years of work based on single-industry cities in China intended to examine the essential home of the global economy, I wrestled with what subject matter might make sense of the meltdown. The expressive and subjective “Sock City” paintings examined how the consumer-based relationship between China and the United States affects the Chinese landscape. So, what to do after going big? Go small and start at home.
I began this new body of work painting plein air paintings around my upstate New York home, a landscape with a long history of economic change. These paintings eventually led me to a few other locations that had visually or politically-charged locations throughout the country.
At times these locations contain visual elements that seem ripe for painterly interpretation, such as “Silverlake Reservoir,” which is based on the drinking water reservoir in the city of Los Angeles that was filled with 400,000 black balls to prevent sunlight from stimulating the growth of a cancerous material in its waters. Other sites may appear visually barren, but provide an opportunity for painterly description/ “Kingston Pontiac” depicts a northeastern small city’s failing car dealership as expressed through a mass of polyurethane sliding off the canvas, suggestive of the fleeting prosperity and materiality of the car industry in America.
The ways that the painted space and the physical space interact is always a point of intrigue for me. For example, a few years ago I happened upon a laboratory in swampy southern Florida that tested the lightfast and weatherproof attributes of many household and industrial materials. There were acres of tables containing a multitude of colors and materials, organized into a literal color field, as depicted in the painting, “Q lab Color Field”.
In this new work, color is fickle. At times it calls attention to something artificial, at other times its saturation indulges vibrant autumnal colors, and occasionally is muted as affected by a heavily particulated atmosphere.
These new paintings connect my earlier paintings of the American landscape with the formal and conceptual concerns I tackled in the “Sock City,” paintings, and are located in the other side of a once booming economy.