Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Graffiti Surprise in 100 Years

"An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness"-Henry Miller 
My sweetheart, Paul, is one of three photographers asked by AS220 to respond to and interpret the renovation of the Mercantile Building on Weybosset Street in Providence, RI. The last building AS220 transformed, the Dreyfus Hotel, now houses their admin offices, printshop, gallery and the restaurant Local 121. Describing The Dreyfus, a huge body of work by Paul Clancy, David Ellis, Erik Gould, Scott Lapham, Susan Mobley and the students of Photo Memory, was presented in the fall of 2007 and wonderfully represented the range of talent and vision of these artists. Many great discoveries and stories of past lives of the building came to the surface while these artist recorded the building being dismantled and brought to life again. Now it's the Mercantiles' turn and I've gotten to tag along a few times while Paul has shot there. One warm day last fall I  brought with me a big bag of drawing materials. The walls are large and were coming down so I thought it would be fun to use some large charcoal. Grandma does graffiti. What I found worked well were some charred logs from my fire pit out back. Why not? That's what the stuff is made from and these walls are big.  It's kind of spooky in there so I also brought with me a tiny oil painting by the founder of the Providence Art Club, self taught artist, George Whitaker. I hung it next to me on the wall while I worked. This tiny landscape is over a hundred years old and speaks to me so much about the difference between being alone and lonely. One of my favorite objects I've ever bought myself. A lovely fact I recently stumbled upon is George Whitaker's studio was in the Mercantile 100 years ago. So as I've watched them bury my drawing under new shiny wall studs I can't help but wonder if someone 100 years from now will discover my work beneath sheet-rock and be as touched by it as I've been by Mr. Whitaker's painting of the tiny figure in the field circled in light. Paul and I have a piece of work entitled Mercantile:Two Part Intervention that will be part of the AS220 show at the CCRI Knight Campus Gallery till March 4th with an opening Feb. 4th.

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