A R T I S T   S T A T E M E N T S
I make paintings of the physical world. Sometimes there's more to it. Below are some individual project statements.
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My current painting series BIOMETRIX combines humor and visual curiosity to produce a skeptical inquiry into the history of portraiture, our contemporary weakness for technology, and the perpetual state of pensive watchfulness that follows. Images of greatly human irises and fingertips touch upon themes of power, identity, preciousness and psychedelic sexiness while mixing the tropes and techniques of the centuries-old genre with the tools and ideologies of digital culture.

Rendered in painterly marks and vivid color, these fragments of human anatomy appear to me like vast, otherworldly landscapes. In reality, they are collections of biometric data: bits and bites of biology freely provided to faceless corporations ostensibly for the convenience of quicker access to sensitive personal information. The frames on my paintings are intended to acknowledge the signifiers of power, wealth and influence that are employed by institutions to assign value and importance to certain people and cultural objects. These literal displays of status and wealth exist alongside the typical subjects of portraiture (clergy and gentry), and the objects themselves (oil paintings). Such works are ubiquitous in museum collections and I include this element to underscore a parallel between the value placed upon personal data and fine art as commodities, as well as the value bestowed upon or withheld from certain groups or individuals in contemporary culture.

In late 2019 I took a break from the night-scape paintings I'd been showing for the past few years and turned my focus inward, returning to work that indulged my long-standing fascination with sensual experience. As with my earlier paintings of mouths and skin, these new "sense" paintings of irises and fingertips were initially all self-portraits - a fact that proved to be both practical and meaningful early on in the pandemic as my external life contracted to that which I could watch, rather than experience, and isolation ruled the day. Suddenly the world outside my studio was reduced to a succession of images and scary headlines on progressively smaller screens (TV, laptop, phone). Once the vaccines rolled out, with cautious relief I invited others into the studio to participate, all but one of whom are women-a blunt pun referencing the female gaze, but also a deliberate expression of power reclaimed.

This project grew out of an earlier series of all-over paintings of the surfaces of my own hands that I did in the early 2010's (Flesh), through which I attempted to depict the most literal representation of touch I could imagine. In a sense, (pun intended), painting sight would be the next logical step, though at the time it didn't quite resonate for me the way it would in 2020. The Flesh paintings were inspired in part by my growing awareness of what at that time was a relatively new phenomenon: the decline of physical touch in an increasingly digital culture. Obviously the pandemic exacerbated that trend bringing that work a renewed relevance for me that continues in 2024.
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PAINTINGS OF THE COUNTRY "America is not a place, it is a road." - Mark Twain

Evening in America, Night Tripper and Big Country are three related bodies of work through which I explore the mythologies and realities of the American landscape as seen from the perspective of a traveler, often at night. The settings hover between the built world and the natural landscape, and although no people are pictured, each composition preserves some residue of the human presence: a power line, a building, or simply the road itself. My intention is to take the viewer into the scene, showing just as much (or as little) sharp detail as the human eye and mind can process in person. The point of view and painting style reflect the fleeting nature of impressions, especially those formed while driving on deserted roads in low light.

Night Tripper is a series of small oil paintings of seasonally abandoned beach roads depicted at the liminal moment between dusk and nightfall. The title references the spooky alter ego of Doctor John and all that it implies about the ambiguity of twilight: it's equal potential for magic and danger. 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 entitled 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.* *In 2023 a deserted 2 a.m. Palisades Parkway makes an appearance.

Evening In America, the title of my 2020 solo show at Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC, was intended to be both a literal description of the paintings in the exhibition which are all set in late afternoon or early evening, as well as a comment on the current state of the nation both at home and on the world stage. Conceived before the pandemic, but no less relevant now (perhaps more), the words reference Ronald Regan's re-election campaign ad that featured imagery of Americans starting their day in a bright sunny world behind the jingoistic slogan, "It's morning again in America".

Big Country is a series of oil paintings based on imagery gathered while navigating the US & Canada by motorcycle. These works explore the notions of "home" and "away", and how my sense of these things is impacted by my personal history, American mythology, and the rise of digital culture. But their primary subject is the visual experience of motorcycling, which is simultaneously fragmented and completely immersive. The world appears to me alternately in tiny half-blurred snatches glimpsed in in my rearview mirrors, and the unmatched 180 degree perspective afforded by a view unbstructed by the structure of an enclosed vehicle. The series' title references the artist Edward Avedisian's description of America, which appeared in his obituary in Hyperallergic in 2013. The full quote, "It's a big country, and the only thing keeping it together is television", struck me as hilarious and oddly consistent with my own impressions of these loosely United States (though one might be tempted to substitute "tik tok" for "television" at this point).

These are scenes from a road trip. The road trip is a present-day expression of the distinctly American values of rebellion, freedom and restlessness embedded in the national psyche by the country's founders, and later realized in the conveyance of the internal combustion engine. Recent technological advances have ushered in a new era that threatens this tradition. One of the unintended consequence of ubiquitous personal computing is a historic decline in the number of teenagers pursuing that most quintessentially American rite of passage: the acquisition of a driver's license. The rise of digital culture has rendered the physical distribution of people and goods less urgent at the very least, if not completely unnecessary. People are no longer isolated socially or professionally by geography because many jobs can be done remotely; texts and chat take the place of face-to-face personal contact. Conversely, the distinction between home and work becomes increasingly vague when one is constantly accessible. And when there is no centralized workplace, personal space and time is less clearly defined. In such a time, it is both refreshing and strange to drive around the small towns and natural wonders that dot back roads and byways, visiting places that have yet to be subsumed by big box stores and national chain restaurants. The reward is a front row seat on a very different America, one rife with odd and often charming, if somewhat shabby, idiosyncrasies.
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Better Living Thru Chemistry (BLTC) is a limited edition sculpture series consisting of candy-colored glass and mixed media capsule-shaped objects festooned 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.
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PLATINUM SEA is a series of paintings of fragments of the North Atlantic ocean centered on the elemental, physical aspects of this living surface. The ocean is described in a muted color palette made up exclusively of cadmium red, titanium white and indigo extra. Since color is not an innate quality to water, I try to keep it fairly neutral, bringing about subtle changes in "temperature" and tone through minute adjustments to the proportions of these 3 components. I adopt a perspective that 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 capture a level of detail or moment in time that is not accessible through casual observation, and through careful editing I am able to identify and isolate events or phrases within the larger context that strike me as both intimate and universal, timeless and ephemeral. The end result is quite realistic, but I am careful to maintain a balance between a rich, lively paint surface and visual accuracy. I see my process as the perfect marriage between the potential for alienation to which I allude here in the first paragraph, and the total sensory submersion required to complete and appreciate this work.
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The (2003-2014, 2024) BOVINE PORTRAITS IN HEXADECIMAL HUE is a series of monochromatic oil paintings of cows. Through this humorous and loving take on the genre of portraiture, I explore themes of repetition, existentialism, vanity and the impact of digital culture on visual experience. Artistic inspiration includes, but is not limited to the work of Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus, and the spectacularly rendered visions of clergy and wealthy patrons by old masters such as Holbein and Vermeer.

Each painting begins with a headshot - a hastily captured image of the subject in their natural habitat encountered on motorcycle trips throughout the Catskill Mountains and lower Hudson Valley. That source image is then digitally edited and tinted with a single hue chosen from the 216 colors of the basic Web palette. The title of each painting includes the hex code for that color.

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.