About My Artist-Ness
I didn’t want to be an artist, originally. I wanted to be rich and famous and attract many breeding females. That’s how I got into entertainment, which forced me to make the choice at the proverbial crossroads. I begrudgingly chose to pursue artistic integrity over financial security. I was too much of a binary thinker at the time to consider negotiating a deal that included both.
In 1995-ish, during a liminal space experience, I encountered the cartoonish presence of glowing blue outlined specters of historical luminaries. J.S. Bach, Leonardo DaVinci, Willelm Reich, Thomas Jefferson, and a few others stood and looked at me troubling over my artist life. They were mocking me, jibing me for not “getting it.”
I realized at that moment that I had been striving to “make art”, to develop a style, to make a name for myself through creating artifacts. Suddenly, that all appeared to be foolish and backwards. Looking at these alpha ghosts as they silently mocked me, I realized that they were the works or art, and what they left behind were leaves dropped from their trees, skins shed as they grew the human endeavor. They departed upon my realization. I was the canvas, the block of stone, the raw material to be shaped. My work would be a reflection of what I was at the time, not ambitious somethings to be pimped out for a few dull bucks.
Much of my physical work served as a portal for me to zone out. Falling into the process of maddening detail allowed me to go offline mentally, Grocking deeply helped me to break mental loops of neurosis and anxiety, and made space for creativity to flow through me, making me limber enough to make things I couldn’t imagine.
Most of my early illustrations disappeared in a lapsed storage unit of an ex-lover who fled to Canada. I started illustration while pretending to be on hold at my telemarketing job in 1991. Things emerged from doodles.
A thoughtful girlfriend bought a set of Rapidograph inkwell pens for me, and I fell in love with the .025 size and started abstracting my way through sleepless nights. Some mornings I would return to the desk to be surprised by what had appeared overnight. Sometimes 8 hours would be spent on a piece the size of a silver dollar.
After developing my abstract pen and ink style, which was very loopy and circular, I was dissatisfied with the 2D canvas and having to conform to the rectangle canvas that took hundreds of hours to fill. Many projects were started and not finished.
I decided that a small spherical canvas was optimal for my style, because there was no edge, no beginning and no endpoint when the piece was done. Plus I had them in my fridge. I blew out eggs and started cranking out piece after piece. At first, it was just pen ink on eggshell, then I moved into abstract coloring and pointillism.
The eggs needed nests, so I moved into making unique stands for each one, which often took more time than the egg itself. I made thousands of them. Obsessively. This was an odd art form that I didn’t know what to do with and they started piling up in my apartment. So, I just started giving them away. Thank you gifts, wedding presents, birthdays, etc, then I just started giving them away to people on the street and leaving them in random places around L.A. They were an experiment in Non-Fungible Tokens, creating my own currency.
I continued developing these “Dragon Eggs” in L.A., then in Great Falls, and in Hawai’i. One piece that I had worked on for days, layering polyurethane and ground up ammonite fossil over a black egg, making an egg shaped galaxy, fell off my porch while drying, and shattered. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the remains of something I had spent so much time on, so I put them in a jar and forgot about it for a bit.
I later heard an NPR piece on the concept and aesthetic of Wabi Sabi, and the practice of Kentsugi”
The Japanese word “kintsugi” expresses a beautiful way of seeing fractures. “Kintsugi” as a philosophy treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. It is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. We truly see “Kitsungi” as a metaphor for our lives. We all carry broken pieces of ourselves in different ways throughout our life and it is through the process of repairing the pieces with lacquer and gold, with friendships, community and family, sharing, and through process…that we heal and use our past wounds to make us stronger.
The idea behind the Japanese world “wabi-sabi ” is to embrace imperfection and to find the beauty in the imperfection. “Kintsugi” is a part of the concept of “wabi-sabi”.
I immediately thought of the broken black egg. Then I thought about all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, and realized that the king’s horses were a really bad call as egg repair candidates. Suddenly I realized that I could use another egg as an armature for the broken one, and what had started as a canvas for a pen became more complex and sculptural. I started making eggs just to break them and highlight their fractures. Later, I began to solid fill the inner egg, which gave literal and aesthetic weight to the pieces.
I took over a nursery business in the rainforest of Palolo Valley. My home and office was a screened in jungle shack. There I took advantage of my new work laptop to carve out a place for myself in the new frontier of the blogosphere. Underad Words was my main blog from 2004 to 2011. I also had Undead Poetry as a repository of my performance poetry. I haven’t looked at them in a long time, and I’m sure much is regrettable. It was a different time. I was in a different place. I might have to hide them so I don’t get Pepe Le Pew’ed.
I had a few experimental blogs as well. The King Files was a blog where I cut and pasted conversations between ‘ The King of the World’, random people, and early AI chatbots in Yahoo chat rooms. I was trolling before I knew that was a thing. Fierce Oblivion was a collection of musings from 2011 while I was isolated in the Sierra Foothills of Three Rivers, California. It ended with a series called “This Is Things I Wanted,” where I curate a collection of language magles left in the inbox of my photoblog by spambots and AI’s.
As my second daughter Zoe began to toddle around, I found a way to keep the fragile artworks out of reach by developing kinetic sculptures that hung from the ceiling. They became my obsession in Hawai’i. Originally ways to hang my Dragon Eggs, they became showcases for artifacts exhumed from a former landfill that my nursery sat atop. Treasures from compost piles, bamboo, street sweeper bristles, sails made from silk and sewn with copper wire.
In the far west Rust Belt town of Butte, the materials have changed, the scale has grown, and they’ve moved outside.
Plants and Lanscapes
I developed a series of plant sculptures called Bonsai Xeriscapes while working as a landscaper and nurseryman. Using brake drums as bonsai trays, I designed mini landscapes and hardscapes that were climate-specific in their soil and plant choices to be self-sustaining or extremely low maintenance.
I featured in an art show in Great Falls, Montana an installation of my Montana edition Dragon Eggs on driftwood displays.
In 2005 I was a featured artist at Arts At Marks in the Chinatown Arts District of Honolulu. I showcased a series of kinetic sculptures, Bonsai Xeriscapes, and performed with my band at the time, The Vapor Puppets.
In 2012 I showcased my Hypertufa Xeriscapes and California Mobiles in a solo show, The Art of Cultural Composting at the Cort Gallery in Three Rivers, Cali.
In 2015 I had a 2-month solo installation at the Foreground Gallery in Butte, Montana. The show featured, hanging kinetic sculptures, desktop mobiles, select Dragon Egg sculptures, and the ongoing construction of 15’ by 15’ kinetic sculpture that dominated the center of the gallery.
I recreated a mine waste landscape in the middle of Aunt Dofe’s Hall of Recent Memories in Willow Creek, Montana, as a part of the Butte Area One group show.
In 2016 I transformed an 8’wide satellite dish into a giant bonsai xeriscape tray in which I recreated the mining waste landscape from the Northside Tailings area of Butte. This installation was a part of the A Watershed Moment group show at the IBRC.
I started mixing performance poetry with music as host of the Open Mic at the Lost Woodsman in Great Falls, Montana. I continued to develop that idea in an underground after-hours club in the Chinatown district of Honolulu in the year 2000. Quadraphonix was the defacto house band for the scene, and Guitarist Shree Sadagopan proposed we start an open mic at his family’s new Indian food joint, the India Cafe, which went on to inspire a spate of word/music/salon events all over the Honolulu area.
Once a month I was the middle act between the First Thursday Poetry Slam, and the open Mic after, which was, at the time, the world’s largest monthly slam poetry event. There, I met the other two core members of what would become The Vapor Puppets, a spoken word freeform musical experiment that resulted in over 70 hours of recorded sessions, and the micro release of the only Vapor Puppet effort made public, 30% Cheese.
My last musical effort of note was a 5 song EP recorded over 5 days while snowed in at my barn/medical marijuana grow/residence in Nevada City, California in 2009. It’s out there somewhere under the name DJ Glunch.
In 2014 I became the founding Music Director of KBMF radio in Butte, Montana. The station started with a stated mission of Social Justice, Education, and Workers Rights. Built as a community resource platform, the listening audience hears a different local voice from the community every two houses, with an average of 70 different programs by community members.
To help give the station a cohesive brand, I created over 300 station ID’s, many of them using the Text-to-Voice characters from my old Apple laptop, and coined the slogan “America’s Most Radio”. I started the KBMF DJ Facebook group to foster a sense of community among the DJ’s, sharing new music, station news, and music history.
I initiated three trips to the Standing Rock prayer camp in 2016, creating the KBMF News Team, which broke a national story on our first trip with reporting from eyewitnesses to the Backwater Bridge incident involving the mutilation of the arm of one of the Standing Rock camp allies, Sonya Wolanski. The story exposed a false narrative the mainstream press had been fed by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
In 2016 I inadvertently began an ongoing relationship between the Zulu Nation and Butte, America, by trolling an actual Zulu Prince that I assumed was a Nigerian 419 scammer. The movie Zulu Summer serves as a look at the early moments of two radio communities worlds apart, coming to meet for the first time.