Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

When I Start

Rio Grande River just south of Albuquerque at ...
Rio Grande

1. I start at 5:30 in the morning. Because GK gets up early for work and 4yo Zee is a light sleeper, and my cat meows if ANYONE thinks of sleeping IN. As if 5:45 is sleeping in. I get up at 5:45. Because of the cat. And other reasons.

2. I start with my work by following trails. I try to stay on the right ones, not drown in the flood of information all around me. I try to remember why *I* make art and not why other people make it. I try to not get distracted by a sweet technique or material, if it hasn’t already proven to have a place in my language of art making. But if I keep coming back to that material or subject, I take note, and maybe I’ll stick with it next time.

3. I start defining what’s important to me in art, what I like. This summer I’ve re-entered (again) looking at art, immersing myself. It started with an art TV show that a lot of people hate. I don’t really think about that show anymore. But watching it solidified something I started to realize when I considered applying to grad schools (last Fall.) I realized, my mind gets crowded when I look at too much art, when I talk to too many people about it, when there is too much chatter, and grad school’s Read This and Read That, and meet these New People, now Forget Them, now Meet Ten More. I forget what I like. I forget what I think. I forget who I am. Everything starts to look good. Or bad. Mediocre things become interesting because someone said it was. (Maybe because I see the good in things?) (Still, I have to remember that “kind of good” doesn’t mean “great.”) Also have to remember: I don’t REALLY like art that appears only pretty but has mildly interesting material (physical or conceptual.) I might “like” it, though. But REALLY, I want art to hit me somehow. Because I want it to take itself seriously, and not waste my time. On the other hand… a lot of art does something for me, and what I walk away with is what’s important to me in the end.

4. I have started considering issues around immigration more. My latest (study for a) piece is about local views on immigrants (or illegals as some people say) and I guess I have touched on it before in the “Here, in layers” piece- you know, the one with the little map of my neighborhood. The home I live in is in this 1940’s subdivision that was “whites only” (it’s disclosed in the papers we signed off on when we bought this place) but, don’t worry- Coloreds were allowed in servant’s quarters, so we’re good. (Sarcasm) Grr. Anyway, I would post a pic of this piece I killed myself for over the weekend (while GK steered the home ship), but it’s just not ready to be looked at yet, like I said, it’s a Study for a piece. (Right. Because the end product fell so short of what I wanted, it became a Study.) The important thing is to stay true to myself when I’m changing subjects a bit in my work. The subjects can change, but not me.

5. School has started. I have started logging more hours in the studio. But these free couple hours incl. trips to the Home Depot that I can’t do with my (loud! unruly! embarrassing!) wonderful boys. Includes the fact that my studio is a COMPLETE disaster and so is my house, and I feel guilty because if I do the studio first, then my family is still suffering with living in a crumbling environment while I build up my workspace…. so I need to clean my studio during studio time. (Clean house when boys are home.) And I watched “Border Wars” (research= studio time?) from the NatGeo channel, with my mom, who was up late last night & caught it on TV. She suffers with a lot of pain & illness, and one of her meds needs a refill. (I blame the pesticides of the 1950’s farmlands- she worked them when she was school age.) She found this show and it was about Death on the Rio Grande– the river my grandfather crossed while steering all the children on the raft he built. He used a machete to cut down the wicked brush, branches and grasses that line the water. So, the story as told by the border patrol agent in this show, said that if a person gets tired while crossing this enormous river, and he lets his feet fall too far, he gets caught by the undercurrents, and pulled under. Then he is Finished.

6. I’m going to start cleaning my studio. I have 45 min.

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