Storage: The Devil’s Puzzlebox

Saturday, New Year’s Eve 2016…

It’s becoming a tradition: during the holidays I blow up my studio. Makes sense; production slows down, tidying speeds up, and as things get cleared away I get a good long look at the bones of my studio. And then I start ruminating on ways to make things better. Perhaps anxiety is a part of the tradition.

Nothing fits in the skeletal painting rack I began last year. Stacks of boxes containing work I don’t intend to ever show again crowd the rack’s upper decks; a collection of large panels purchased under a corroded rationale clack around in the bottom. What if I chucked those boxes? 

I can stand and stare at the storage spaces in my studio for hours. Say “storage” or “inventory” and I fall off a dark cliff, tumbling into the abyss of a Lovecraftian doom zone where eldritch creatures made of graph paper shred my sanity. “Storage” is a portal into Hellraiser’s Puzzlebox, a shadowy space where endless permutations of shelving ideas flip and turn and writhe. 

Fueled by fear, I leap from one solution to another.  After an hour of rumination and scribbled designs, I seize upon the highly creative idea of burning everything to the ground. “Fuck it! Old art, meet the trash can.” And I begin to cart boxed art out to the staging ground for its eventual execution–the porch. “Fungus Wall”–I’m fixing to tip it. “Disks”–done.

And why not? It is the season of death, after all, the perfect time to let the wind carry dead branches off the living tree. 

Why now? What happened? Was it Christmas? Was it Trump?

Nope. It was hubris–or hope. 

In a fit of ego-syntonic self-organization, I took my work seriously and imagined a new body of paintings. I plan on exploring Stories over the course of this year, and while continuing to build the group of 16” squares I’ve been embarked on for the last half year, I will complete a new series of larger works. To that end, I ordered a metric fuck-ton of new panels. $1,900 worth, in fact. Two weeks ago. 

It’s this freight-train of new inventory that awoke my anxiety. This is the largest volume of paintings I’ve ever ordered. Ever. All this preparation, all this reflection, all this coaching and growing and spending and drawing and painting and tossing and turning–it’s all real. I’m really on board with changing my life. It’s for real.

I’m an artist.

Next up: The Turn of the Wheel

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