ARTIST STATEMENTS

(2019) BIOMETRIX are oil on canvas paintings of my own hands and eyes rendered in vivid color and framed in ostentatious gold leaf. Despite their appearance of authenticity, anatomical details have been subtly altered to obscure and thereby protect personal information. The ornate gold frames reference those in which portraits have historically been exhibited in order to bestow importance upon the subject, and upon the painting, as both cultural artifact and commodity. This work echoes and questions those traditions while making the point that in the current technological environment, personal data has become its own form of currency, aka gold.

The paintings subvert tradition in another way as well. Practically all of the most celebrated portrait artists have been men: "important" painters painting "important" people from a decidedly male point of view. The "gaze" here is distinctly female, quite literally in the case of the iris paintings, less obvious in the fingerprint paintings until you consider the active roll of woman as toucher implicit in the depiction a woman's hands, as opposed to the passive representation of female bodies as objects to be touched or looked at generally encountered in works of art.

The work further disrupts and democratizes this narrative, and by extension, conceits of personal identity and vanity put forth in the genre by suggesting that the truest depiction of the individual is the unique idiosyncrasy of one's physical body: this data, not your appearance or social stature, is who you are. By foregoing the traditional signifiers of individual worth such as physical beauty, conspicuous displays of wealth, and political might that have been celebrated throughout centuries of formal portraiture, these paintings revise the definition of the self to align more closely with the demands of an increasingly digital culture. The frames function as unsubtle signifiers of the preciousness of both paintings and personal data in the 21st Century.
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(2016-ongoing) PAINTINGS OF THE ROAD "America is not a place, it is a road." - Mark Twain

NIGHT TRIPPER is a series of small oil paintings of seasonally abandoned beach roads depicted at the moment just before night falls. These paintings feature two spots on Cape Cod: Route 6 at the Provincetown/Truro line, and a secluded route that leads to Head of the Meadow, a wildly beautiful beach in the National Seashore which featured prominently in an earlier body of my work Platinum Sea, paintings of the surface of the ocean (2013-16). This work picks up where that left off, substituting the surface of the road for that of the sea, and following a circuitous journey through the strange, tattered and often charming back roads and scenic byways of America, an entire country that has itself been famously characterized as more of a journey than a destination.

The setting hovers between the built world and the natural landscape. The perspective is that of a traveler in a motor vehicle - either a driver or a passenger. No people are pictured, but each composition preserves some residue of the human presence: a power line, a building, or simply the road itself. The once orderly contours of these man-made structures are shown surrendering to the lush, raw landscape in which they appear. Tree lines skid out of focus, signs, telephone poles and items less defined appear and vanish suddenly along the side of the road. Illuminated briefly by a headlamp or the fading light of dusk, these familiar things can seem menacing or reassuring by turns. Twilight is an ambiguous time, a time in-between, when vision is least reliable, especially for driving. Daylight is greatly reduced, but it's not quite dark enough for the full benefit of headlights. By operating within this constraint, I am deliberately engaging a subject that resists depiction in an attempt to merge the "felt" with the "seen". This can be frustrating, but magical and exciting when all goes well. It is like swimming below the surface in a pond: a deep dive followed by a period of nearly sightless exploration, feeling around for something that remains just out of reach, like waves in the ocean that seem to break farther and farther away each time you think you have waded out far enough to meet them. Forms are murky, shimmering, refusing to resolve into a fixed state. Nighttime is fluid, rife with possibility, fear and loathing, intrigue and dread. Vision is unreliable and safety is an issue, but so is relief. Daylight is so demanding! The night-especially traveling at night-offers protection, a respite, like a spell that conjures a brief suspension of responsibility and time as one hurtles through space completely enveloped in the totality of that experience.

BIG COUNTRY, are paintings based on imagery glimpsed in my rearview mirrors as I navigate North America by motorcycle. Many of the paintings are tiny and situated within actual motorcycle mirror housings, depicting scenes from that quintessential American rite of passage: the road trip.

The series title references the late artist Edward Avedisian's pithy summation of our fragmented national psyche: "It's a big country, and the only thing keeping it together is television", he declared in nineteensixtysomething. When I read this in 2013, I laughed out loud. More recently, I have been moved by the potential seriousness of the remark. Either way, I have seen the sentiment borne out repeatedly on journeys that lead me away from my typical social and cultural milieu. In an effort to avoid "the slab", as the Interstate is known in motorcycle-speak, I seek out back roads and scenic byways, visiting places that have yet to be subsumed by big box stores and global chain restaurants. The reward is a front row seat on an America that is rife with odd and charming, if somewhat shabby idiosyncrasies, many of which appear in the work. Unlike my previous work, these paintings operate within an implied narrative construct. Almost every piece contains some residue of the human presence (a sign, a road, a building), whose slick, man-made contours can be observed surrendering to the lush, raw landscape in which they appear.

It is not only the country's cultural range that informs this work. The wild variation in climate and topography of the United States is staggering. And motorcycling offers a unique perspective on this. Unlike the driver of a car, a motorcyclist is embedded within the landscape, gaining first-hand physical experience of the actual world-an activity that is declining in an increasingly digital culture where the physical distribution of people and goods has steadily become less urgent, if not completely unnecessary. More to the point, one doesn't actually have to travel to see anything anymore. So I am not only documenting this strange and spectacular place, but the act of visiting it as well. The rearview mirror becomes a metaphor for the road trip, as it too recedes into the past.
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(2013-2017) PLATINUM SEA are paintings of fragments of the surface of the North Atlantic ocean, composed in a muted palette made up exclusively of cadmium red light, titanium white and indigo extra. Subtle changes in "temperature" and tone are achieved through minute adjustments to the proportions of these 3 components. The perspective is extreme, often bringing the composition to the brink of abstraction. Situational cues such as a horizon line or light source are intentionally cropped out. What remains is an unbounded section of sensual topography, the actual scale and orientation of which is unknowable and unimportant. This, combined with the essentially fractal nature of this subject matter, fosters an ambiguity that keeps the focus on the materiality of both the subject and the painting.

Throughout, I use my own digital photographs as source imagery. The technology enables me to closely examine things as disparate as the human hand and the ocean with equal facility. Using a device no more powerful or expensive than a cell phone, I can capture a level of detail or moment in time that is not accessible through casual observation. And through careful editing I identify elements or phrases within the larger context that can be at once intimate and universal, timeless and ephemeral. This process mirrors contemporary visual experience, recently described as "The Forever Now" in a painting show of the same name at MoMA. The term refers to a flattening of time into a perpetual present, resulting from the vast, ever-expanding collective memory of the digital age, which blends bits (and bytes) from a seemingly limitless palette of images and information set free from their historical meaning. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

The (2003-2011) BOVINE PORTRAITS IN HEXADECIMAL HUE is a series of large-scale monochromatic oil paintings of cows. The work explores themes of existentialism, vanity and the impact of digital culture on visual experience. Inspiration comes from a wide range of historical portraiture including, but not limited to, the work of Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, and the spectacularly rendered visions of clergy and wealthy patrons by old masters of the genre such as Rubens and Vermeer.

Each painting begins with a digitally manipulated "head shot" - a hastily captured image of the subject in their natural habitat, encountered on motorcycle trips throughout the US, but mostly in the lower Hudson Valley. The source image is then stripped of extraneous contextual information and edited in the studio where each image is tinted with a single hue chosen from the 216 colors of the basic Web palette. The titles include the "hex" value of that color, a 6 digit piece of code that tells a computer how it should be displayed.

The individual panels are executed as single self-contained paintings that are created in isolation from the full source image, so every square is essentially an abstract composition of highly detailed nonsense. This was a process that I developed to thwart my tendency towards obsessive rendering - something that interferes with spontaneous mark-making and the "wildness" of painting that I believe is essential to the success of the endeavor.

Initially inspired by a visit to a dairy farm in Buck's County, PA where I was mainly impressed by the size of these creatures, I quickly became captivated the facial "expressions" implied by anatomical idiosyncrasies such as long, luxurious eyelashes and heavy brooding brows that seemed to suggest a wide range of human emotions like fear, tenderness and vulnerability, even anger. Clearly this is projection on my part, one that is often shared by the viewer. But it made me think about how these creatures relate to the genre of portraiture. Historically, portraiture has been largely a tale of the very rich immortalized in self-important displays of wealth and power. In creating these works, I have elevated cattle, a traditional symbol of that wealth, to this same stature. Since embarking upon the project in early 2003, I have completed over 50 Bovine Portraits.

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(2008-ongoing) BETTER LIVING THRU CHEMISTRY is a limited edition sculpture series consisting of brightly colored glass and mixed media capsule-shaped objects tagged with text messages, social media iconography, and the language of pop psychology. Inspired in equal parts by the ubiquitous presence of social media in contemporary culture and the simultaneous rise of direct - to - consumer pharmaceutical marketing, the work pokes fun at the alternately amusing and depressing correlations between the two phenomena as both are enlisted to over - simplify the human condition and expedite contentment with a familiar recipe of instant gratification and seductive packaging. With a nod to the 1960's Dow Chemical advertising campaign and titles like I <3 U (I Love You) and ((H)) (Big Hug), the work calls attention to the absurdity and futility of trying to convey such things in 140 character messages composed in a format that does even not lend itself to the use of punctuation let alone real emotion.

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