rebirth

(2003-2007)

early 2003 - stayed in Torino, Italy for 2.5 months, lived with Antonio Rollo (thanks to Ken Aronson).

Walked around Torino taking 100 - 200 images a day then editing out the images that had no value. Became interested in the *motion blur* I'd get when taking "hip shots". Found that with "hip shots" it's fun to sit down after a days shoot having no idea what's been taken that day.

At first the "hip shots" were taken by bringing the camera from a relaxed position at the end of my arm up to my waist. This movement attracted unwanted attention (especially from men) so I started shooting vertical images. The camera would hang from my relaxed arm being lightly held by my finger tips and I'd push the button with my thumb. I found that if I kept my arm and hand relaxed that I could *feel* when to take the image.

2.5 months in Torino (heavy edit - 213 images)

2.5 months in Torino (light edit - 3,000+ images)

mid 2003 - the end of snarg

The images currently on the opening page of snarg are of "The Last Supper" in Torino, Italy at Villa HELL with the members of Bat.Hell.com.

Stopped using the comupter as the central medium in doing art.
Stopped answering all e-mail.

Started trying to remove the word *want* from my vocabulary.

late 2003 - Chris Terrell allowed me to setup a studio in the concrete garage next to How It Works which became known as "the Bunker". His shop became a source of free watercolor paper leftover from the printing process (end rolls, misprints, scraps, etc.).

"the Bunker" was used as an environment unto itself emphasizing the elements of that environment with painting being only a part of it.

There were mirrors and old hard drive disks reflecting the sunlight that came through cracks. Objects channeling water that flowed over the floor when it rained. Spotlights on the hundreds of lady bugs that came in and walked on the ceiling when it got cold. Tissue paper that would move when the wind blew. A routed 8'X4' piece of particle board (thrown away from a boat building shop) outside the door that melted as it rained and time passed. Rose pedals in glass containers filled with coffee. Sculptures made from rotting apples. Mirrors beaming the intense light of the sun through the only window. Music created on an old laptop that emphasized the cave like qualities of "the Bunker" itself.

Download:

Artist: "4.43.56.56" - Album: "in a cave with a laptop" 13 tracks of "bUnkeRmUsic" - Size: 105MB - File: ZIP file

bUnkeRmUsic is very location and time specific. It was never intended to be used outside of *the Bunker*.

4.43.56.56 was the IP address I used for "the Bunker" instead of using a domain name.

In "the Bunker" I did hundreds of pieces (usually 30 - 50 a day) on paper, plastic, foam core, plywood, old cloth etc. using old latex house paint, raw pigments, various pens and pencils, used motor oil, old make-up, gifted art supplies, etc.. These were balanced on objects, pressed between glass, covering every flat surface and stacking up on each other becoming little towers as time passed.

There were scraps of plywood (free from construction sites), thinly painted/scraped regularly with a single color of oil paint (using an old credit card). These were done *only* for the smell of the linseed oil. I called these "internet art" in reference to a comment Michael Samyn once e-mailed me saying, "Painters paint because they are addicted to the smell of oil paint and their paintings aren't usually very good."

There was "the Gravity Box". A large discarded double glazed window in which found objects were placed in the top. When it became full, objects were pulled out from the bottom as new objects were place in the top. This piece was ever changing and had a wonderful relationship to time.

During this time, I didn't call what I did "art".

I called it "stuff Ed can't do!"

This was when I realized I had truly lost the ability to judge. Things are neither right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. Everything has its place in time. It's how things relate to each other over time that reveals their meaning, not what they appear to be at the moment.

Around 8 years ago I started wearing all black. Black clothes are much easier to take care of. All of the clothes can be thrown in the wash at the same time (I've never cared about wrinkles) and you don't have to think about what to wear.

During the time at "the bunker" I took care of the plants on the grounds of How It Works for spending money. One sunny day I got an *image* of me working with the plants in my head.

I saw myself in all black surrounded with the green of the plants and the color of the flowers. I realized that as black doesn't reflect color, absorbing the full spectrum of light, that I also was absorbing the energy around me. That I wasn't reflecting (or giving) anything back to my surrounds. That by wearing all black, my energy was all about me.

This just didn't feel right.

I went to the thrift store and bought a blue shirt. When I put it on and went back onto the grounds to work, I felt totally different. I felt lighter, more buoyant. I realized that now I was giving something back, giving some energy *to* my surroundings. Giving blue energy. It felt good.

studio 2003 (the Bunker) - the maximal environment

early 2004 - started little dog for my daughter in London. My life as seen through the eyes of a little dog.

My Father starts losing his short term memory.

Moved into studio 2004 (the Cliff House).

mid 2004 - experienced incredible beauty and loneliness

Being at studio 2004 was fantastic, being there alone wasn't.

The minimal pieces I had been doing didn't engaged my mind enough. Without anyone seeing them (and the changes they went through) they had become as empty as the place I now lived in. They needed to be shared and I needed something to do.

Thought I'd try painting again. Did 79 portraits and 15 abstracts in three weeks. Would do 5 to 8 in the morning and 5 to 8 in the evening. Found that works done in the morning have quite a different energy than works done in the evening. After a couple of weeks I thought, "This isn't working either." and stopped.

Found little insignificant leaves and painted them much larger.

I had developed a distrust in "art" and a guilt for doing it. There was this fear in that by doing "art" again, I'd open up something I'd regret later. I didn't consider the works I'd been doing for the last year as "art". These works were minimal, minimal in that they used few resources and little was done to create them. They were about investigation, experimentation, consciousness and exploring different ways to see and be in this world.

One evening while having diner and looking at "the beautiful view" in front of me (alone), I heard the clink of my fork against the dinner plate echo through the kitchen. I thought, "ok... this is enough."

So, I invited Jacob Vantiger and Hannah Guarisco to come and live with me. For free. They were both 22 years old and we all worked together.

We had a great summer. With Hannah having graduated from LSU earning a film degree, we watched countless movies. With Jake being very good at playing the guitar, we played late into the night.

Now the minimal works I'd been doing had an audience. I found the minimal works were like the view, empty unless shared.

Started listening to Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Iron & Wine, Ben Harper, Sufjan Stevens, Nouvelle Vague, Feist.

studio 2004 (the Cliff House) - the minimal environment

late 2004 - left studio 2004 (the Cliff House).

Came to a point where everything I'd been working on came to an end. I loved the world around me, but my life felt empty. It seemed I had nothing more to say. Days would just pass by, one after the other, after the other... I remember thinking, "I wonder how many people are alive only because they are afraid to die?"

This was not the life I had known. No more color, music had lost its luster, minimalism had lost its appeal. Something had to change...

early 2005 - met Colleen Westgard (on-line) who lived in Canada.

Colleen is not an artist and knew very little about art. At first we communicated through photographs I'd post for her on the internet of the things I love. Simple things, a cloud, a shadow, children playing, spring flowers, the moon suspended over a sunset.

Colleen had seen only a few paintings of mine. One day she asked, "Why don't you do your art? You're so good at it." My reply was, "I've locked that part of myself tightly away in a box. I'm not sure I should take the risk of letting it out again."

A few months later she said, "That print in the hallway is old. Why don't you paint something over it?" While she was at work I took the glass framed print down, carried it into the garage, opened an old can of house paint, grabbed a credit card, felt tip pen and a pencil and started scraping and scratching away. A few of hours later, placed it back into the frame and hung it in the hallway.

She was very excited about it. I was still uneasy about doing any "art", especially something that might be hung in a hallway.

Started teaching Colleen about art.

mid 2005 - London (Tate)

Went to London for a month to visit my daughter and her husband.

Macsen (I've always liked Max) & Naomi were living in quite a nice apartment with a lot of wall space. While Max & Gnome were in France,
I decided to do something for their apartment.

Found an old folding house painter's table in the back yard. Mounted a cotton throw cloth to it with white latex house paint. Opened up various other cans of house paint and got the usual pens, pencils and markers. Spent the day painting it, then hung it for their return. I was quite happy with the warmth it brought to the room.

Started thinking about how paintings can bring warmth to an environment.

Went to Tate Modern and saw the usual paintings you'd expect to be there. They seemed ancient, foreign and distant, like the memories of an old friend. Lots and lots of ideas. Started to get the same feeling I'd had earlier with the Baroque style, except this time it was the ideas and not the symbolism that was creating the claustrophobia.

Just too many ideas and I'd started to become quite tired of ideas.

Then I entered the room with the Cy Twombly paintings.

Wow! Such warmth and lack of pretense. They're just there. Open, tangible, breathing paintings. I didn't care what they might mean, they felt right. I fell in love with these. I felt inspired again!

late 2005 - Bermuda (ya gotta love blue water)

early 2006 - moved to Canada.

Immigration Canada said, "Now that you're here and have filed for residency, it's ok if you stay. But there's no guarantee that if you leave the country we will let you back in and you can't work here."

I hadn't lived in suburbia since 1974 and found very little of interest to do. There was a Mall close by but I'm not the shopping kind of person. The housing blocks were huge gated communities, taking a long time to walk around and are of little interest to look at. However... I did find a forested park about a 15 minute walk from the house that became a favorite place to go.

Having lots of time, I started to redefine my relationship to painting.

mid 2006 - set up a little studio and started painting again.

Insecurity opens up fear, fear causes one to fall back onto what one already knows and is comfortable with.

I hadn't painted for sometime with the intention of making "art".
I thought, "What did you use to do? Start there."

So I painted...

The man across the street with the Rottweiler.

A woman.

Tried using photographs taken in Torino
that had simple spontaneous compositions.

These were done using brown craft paper, latex house paint and pencil, costing practically nothing to produce.

But these weren't doing it for me. Once again found that I really don't like working from photographs. It's just too abstract of a thing to do.

Tried tearing the brown craft paper, gluing the pieces back together with house paint using a credit card and adding old make-up.

I was finding that ideas pull you *into* the work and the artist's mind.
This is not what I was looking for.

Started to think of ideas as being "a dime a dozen".

Started to realize that an artist often will hold onto ideas as something precious, thus stifling creativity, inspiration and interest in one's work. That ideas often reduce the artist's output to vain conversations of past ideas. That using ideas as the basis for one's work is possibly where the stress and anger comes from I often saw in artists.
Started to realize that painting can be more than just the illustration of ideas.
Started to go through ideas as rapidly as they happened.
Started to discover how a painting can push out to you, bringing warmth to an environment and simply be *with* you.

late 2006 - started using oils again (water mixable), mostly on unprimed watercolor paper.

Found that oils have a warmth about them and can push into an environment better than any other medium. They have the capacity to be *in* and *a part of* the environment.

Because my studio was in a small suburban bedroom, I created the "virtual studio" with blender 3D.

Designed it to look like what I (romantically) considered to be the ideal studio. Based a little on past studios and a little on an imaginary Parisian studio. I would scan the small paintings I was doing and place them on the walls of the "virtual studio" to see what they would feel like large.

Created a "virtual condo" to see what they would feel like in an environment I normally don't have access to.

Because of the small economy car I have access to, I started buying canvases that are divisible by 1ft (1'X1', 2'X2', 1'X3') and bolting them together to create a large canvas. The dimensions of the work can easily be changed, a 4'X4' painting can become a 2'X6' painting for example.

With the work being assembled with bolts it can be disassembled and rearranged. This helps to tear down the *idea of a final composition*. Also the work can be disassembled to be transported in a small car.

Started to notice that while listening to music and painting, I was getting that euphoric, timeless feeling I would get in the past.

While with a group of people the conversation became quite negative. It was mainly anti-gay and anti-Islam and the evils they bring to this world. I started to become quite angry and thought, "This is wrong! They have no right judging other people!" Then I realized. I was judging them!

I wondered, "How am I going to deal with this? How can I not judge those who judge?" Then it came to me. I won't judge them. Now I just think of them as "the people who judge" and let it go.

Started to think about what it is after all these years I have really loved about art and music.

Remembered the accordian player on the walkway next to the Schelde River in Antwerp playing mournful songs until the sun set.

Remembered walking into John Moilanen's studio on a warm sunny day without his knowing and watching him dance to Reggae while painting a large canvas and sipping on Ouzo.

Remembered sitting with other painter friends painting the landscape for hours and not saying anything to each other.

Remembered sitting at the large table in Luca's apartment in Torino with Anto, Seba, Ken and other assorted Italian artists eating spaghetti, drinking wine and laughing all night.

Remembered the *hundreds and hundreds of smiling faces* on people that I'd met because of the arts.

Started listening to Sylvain Piron. Found a video of a couple of kids dancing to pop music on YouTube, replaced the music with Sylvain Piron's music and sent this to my daughter. Life at its best! :)

Came across David Hockney's latest paintings (here and here).
The simplicity of technique, simplicity of subject, simply wonderful.

I got this cough... nothing like I'd ever had before, coughed all the time, day and night. After 2 weeks the pain in my chest was unbearable so I went to the doctor. I have rarely gone to the doctor. She listened to my lungs and took a chest x-ray. After looking at the x-ray she said, "Your lungs look fine, the problem is a bronchial issue.The pain in your chest is a small rib fracture from coughing."

She sent me home with two inhalers, I was to use the rest of my life. The cough continued day and night for another month. Now coughing was nowhere near as painful as sneezing. After I sneezed my whole body would tremble in pain. I became completely exhausted. Started thinking, "Is this it? Is this the end?" One night, I'd given up. I thought, "ok... just take me. I can't do this anymore. But before I go all I want to do is paint a flower one more time."

The cough did go away. I'd stopped using the inhalers a few weeks after they were given to me. They didn't seem to make any difference. As I write this 3 years later, I've been ill once with a minor case of the flu.

And... I did paint a flower.

I've painted a lot of flowers.

studio 2006 - the virtual environment

early 2007 - London, Torino, Venice, Florence, Rome

Went to the Tate Modern to see Cy Twombly again.
Visited my friends from BAT.hell.com in Torino again.
Went to Venice and fell in love with it.
Went to the Uffizi in Florence and got rather bored.
Went to Rome, saw the ruins of civilization and had great pizza.

mid 2007 - Chicago

Went to the The Art Institute of Chicago.

One of best collections I've seen in sometime. This time I was really taken by Monet. The Water Lilies, 1906 painting had me mesmerized. Wonderful surface, sensuous use of paint. The only complaint I have is,
it looks like water and water lilies. It would be nice if museum websites sometimes would let you see something like a Monet up close.

Saw the nicest sculpture I've ever seen

and this.

After 18 months, I became a Permanent Canadian Resident.

late 2007 - started the "Romantic Parisian" paintings.

Came across this store front and immediately had the feeling that this is it, this is where I'm going to be, this is perfect, this is the new studio!

It's intense to have a studio that's open to the public. Anyone can walk in when it says *OPEN*. This studio isn't about being a gallery. I have no desire in being a judge, deciding who gets in and who doesn't. This studio is about people and an intimate connection to painting and sharing what I've learned about art.

However... unlike the other studios I've had, this isn't where I live and it's relatively expensive.

Insecurity sets in... "What am I going to do? What will be shown here?"
I thought, "ok... paint what you love."

Started painting the "Romantic Parisian" paintings. Paintings that tapped into the painters that have meant the most to me (Parisian or not). Started painting the things I love.

Painted "faces, vases and landscapes".

When in Paris at around 11pm, I came upon a store front with hundreds of old gilded frames on the walls (several deep) and hanging from the ceiling with holders (30+ frames per holder). There was little empty space, with a path winding through tables stacked with more frames.

Sitting just off the window was a woman dimly lit by a single warm light bulb. A woman that was somewhere around 90 years old. This woman was gently lifting gold leaf with a brush and applying it to a frame. I stood there mesmerized by the grace and beauty of this woman and the wonder of the setting she was in. It's one of my favorite memories.

Now having a store front of my own, this memory is what I would like to bring to the community I now live in. This intimate connection to a person doing what is obviously loved.


friends and colleagues (2003 - 2007)
Jacob Vantiger - YouTube
Malcolm McLaren
Jerry Gay

karmaright 2021