Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Night Studio

Back in the day, before Ipods. Philip Guston's daughter wrote a book called Night Studio. I bought a pair of 36" Cerwin Vega speakers. I moved into a warehouse. The warehouse was, well -- It was sweet. Me, a crow, three feral cats, a junkyard next door, a crazy girl, and about a hundred orchids. Juliana Hatfield at volume 11, a screamin prayer from a secret god. The coolest neighbors.
Late night workaholic, seriously loud, no one notices, -- way too cool. One night my friend JT came by and the crow sat on the edge of his cup and drank wine from it. Jim would drink -- and the crow would drink. I told a story about Jim today -- to some aspiring young artists. We talked about making art with our hands and tools like paint brushes, and how much fun that was (it used to be). So I told them a story about Jim and myself.
Jim called me one Friday night late, years ago. He said -- "I need your help. I am painting a 6' tall copy of Norman Rockwell's Home for Christmas".

"You don't need my help for that."

"It's due Monday at 9".

"I'll be right over."

Back to the warehouse.

Grinding sounds, Sculpture. "The Edge of Nowhere". A place where no one notices what you do. Me and a crow. In the warehouse santuary. The Warehouse Sanctuary. "Hello Girls!" Said the crow. The smell of paint. Linseed oil.

I am an expert in turning it up. The shower floods daily. Turn up the music. Neil Young, Prince. No -- really turn it up. Steely Dan. The Doobie Brothers, Marta Sebestyen. Finding a way to an unknown land. A place where hands create a magic that no one explains. Eric Clapton and Cream. Louder, please.

When I was faithful student at Cal State Hayward I met a man with a book that claimed artists were Shamen, and so was I. The book was The Artist as Shamen in the 20th Century, by Mark Levy. Later, as a graduate student, the music was louder. The drum beats grew firmer. My presence grew richer. I became stonger in my way.

"Who will take the only hearts they've got and throw them into the fire,
Who will risk their own self respect, in the name of desire,
Who'll regret everything they've done, and who will get the bill" Bonnie Raitt, Lover's Will.

It's like a switch, the way to making art. The way to knowing more than you thought possible, the way to communicating more than you could before. It's like the Shaman swimming under the ocean to see an underwater demon, to find an answer to some question. The night studio -- you wake in the day and look at what you've done and say, "wow" quietly to yourself so no one will hear you.

My daughter sent me a note today that said, "In the studio again." Good for you. Turn up the music. She knows. I know this. When she could barely talk, she walked into the living room of our old bungalow, and pointed at every painting I had painted and said, "See," as if she had finally put it together. While she was sleeping, I was painting those. In the mist. In the Mystery. She knew. My son never quite knew that. But tonight he played that Gibson in a very accomplished way. He knows something. Maybe he has a secret god. Or simple Voodoo Magic.

"What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away? ...
How do you sleep while the rest of us cry,
How do dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye,
How do you walk with your head held high, Can you even look me in the eye? " Dear Mr President, Pink (with the Indigo Girls)

Turn it up. Crank it up. All the way. There's a paradise. It's a paradise of desire. The band leader looked across at my son tonight and said, "What do you got?" My son hit a note and the man said, "Turn it up" and pointed his thumb at the sky. It's there, where the volume is high.

In the Mystery. There's where it is. Secret God ... Something. I am trying to find my way to paradise. I am trying to find my way into an unknown world where there is a truth I can get to know.

I don't know. But, ohhh, how I do know. Turn it up.

I miss my studio. It's been replaced by an Ipod, which isn't quite the same. The reason I turn it up, is to unleash the angels, and silence the demons.

1 comment:

Di said...

I know that feeling...sigh!!