I'm a cowboy who never saw a cow
18-in. x 18-in.
oil on found paper
I come from a long line of craftsmen. Well, I suppose the term "craftsman" might be used a little loosely in some cases, and perhaps the term "hack" might occasionally be a little more apt. Other designations could be things like "good with tools" or "knows his way around the business end of a( insert name of tool)". I kinda like to think of myself as having a little breath of all of these descriptors.
My grandfather was a drunken loser who killed himself with cyanide.
Okay, let me back up. My grandfather was a jeweler who, on occasion, "took to the spirits". One evening after a series of tragic ( and I suspect comical) drunken "misadventures", old "Pa" guzzled down a pint of gold-plating solution. Gold-plating solution contains cyanide. Gold-plating solution also has a giant skull-and-crossbones prominently emblazoned on the bottle with a series of fairly straightforward and "easy to read" warnings indicating the outcome if you should happen to drink this shit.
This happened in 1977. Incidentally, the same year the Bing and Elvis died. So... I guess you could say it was a pretty rough year for the Lange family. Here are few vignettes that might give you and indication of what sort of guy he was:
-He was proficient at darts, bowling, poker, and shooting pool. Hmmmm? What do all of these recreations have in common? Survey says...DING! "Things that are found in a bar".
-His proposal line to my grandmother was,"Marry me, baby! You're built like a brick-shithouse".
-Once, I was riding in a car with him, and I opened the glove compartment. I noticed it was completely filled with salt and pepper shakers. When I, a 6 year-old boy, asked about this his reply was,"Ah, I got some shitty service in a couple of restaurants".
-When my dad told him he was marrying an Estonian, his only response was,"Is that white?".
-When my dad was a little kid, Pa took the family on a vacation, and he ended up "disappearing for a few days". "Disappearing for a few days" is a family code for: he got drunk and shacked-up with a hooker..." for a few days". Pretty sad. However, it gets better. When he finally came back, the kids ( my dad and his sister) asked if they could go to the carnival that was going on in town. His reply was,"Nah, we ain't doing that shit! I went yesterday and it sucked!".
Okay, all of that being said. "Pa" had a few artistic leanings. He made these cool murals on the walls of the basement where, frankly, nobody would ever see them because he was embarrassed or something . "Pa" wanted to keep his painting "in the closet," so to speak. I think the exact quote was,"Hey, just because I like to paint it doesn't make me a 'fruit'!".
There's a point in here somewhere, right? My point is that I've always been fairly dismissive of "outsider" art and anything in that milieu, but I think I've been a little closed minded about this. Yeah, whatever! I guess the need to make "stuff" apparently will surface irrespective of social or practical restrictions. I'm going to try some new things.
My "inspiration" ( and I hate that word) for this painting and some of my newer work involves using "found objects" ( I hate that one too) as the support for my imagery. I want to try to make some things that fit within the arena of "what if this is all I got to use, man?".
The restriction of the actual fragility of paper as well as making the composition harmonize with existing text and imagery is also appealing to me. Paper is particularly challenging due to the fact that I also want to make paintings that are completely archival, and there's A LOT of preparation to ensure this. I also refuse to use acrylic paint. It feels like cheating or something, and I know I can navigate through the chemistry to make it work with oil paint.
I'd like to think that old "Pa" might have secretly been a little proud of things I made over the years in spite of the fact that he would have also suspected that I was... a "fruit".
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