How to Make Jam Get a lot of fruit, like plums or strawberries.
Hopefully, it is summer in Oregon (whatever that is for you). Cut the fruit. You don't have to do a good job. We're going to use a lot of sugar. Throw the fruit in a big pot. Put sugar in, about half the mass of the fruit--a 2 parts fruit, one part sugar proportion. Stir it slowly on a low simmer forever. Really about an hour. Hopefully, your mother is there to tell you stories that annoy and delight you (whatever that is for you). The fruit will start to melt. Eventually, the surface of the jam will get shiny, after the foam is absorbed. Take up your boiled jars and spoon the jam in. Don't fill to the lip. Voila, good job. You have jam.
2015 is coming to an end. It is December. I once used these pictures as a desktop image, a wallpaper, to decorate my new laptop. That was the original idea--to offer some famous desktop art. Not so new any more. This was from when I was getting out of professional art, an effort I have been more or less successful in. I feel amateur--that must be at least half the battle.
Why? I was upset about the gallery I worked with and the system that place, those people, concretized. In my baby consciousness, I couldn't look right at the system-- had to examine the filter, the situation in front of me. Not a bad start...
The unravelling of the gallery situation took so long for me. I have always been such a slow learner. Getting wistfully aspirational, I hope to learn how to edit in 2016. I hope to find a looser form of container. Maybe this website will stretch out in 2016. It is the end of the year and it gets dark around 4:30pm.
When I started making this in 2010, I was circling the question, what good is painting?
Today, I wonder more, What is a curse word?
What is foul language?
I'm spending a lot of time with middle school students obligated to police their language.
"I can't go a day without swearing," one kid said before we got to the museum, where I was hoping they wouldn't say shit in front of the staff. It was for our honor, I worried. Such is the mandate of my position...
But what is profane? In the world of murders and the pictures that get put on walls and the images we try to forget. Everything is recorded and we are running out of space to forget, so maybe it is denial which is a form of remembering.
Build a ladder to the stars In 2010, I tried to be a young, professional artist giving a lecture to a college class in Portland, Oregon. I could see I had a very long way to go if I wanted to make it in the art world, to give myself to the art world. And I was ambivalently committed to not bringing further shame to myself, my family, my country, and god. Also my gallery.
Everyone's Picasso's Picasso (Bread and Jam), 2010. A collaged and altered book, Picasso's Picassos, by David Douglas Duncan, provides the visuals for a power point lecture. The thing considers pedagogy (through whiteness), devotion, capitalist valuation of art, being together, Facebook, and food. "Bread and Jam" I presented in 2010 at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR. We ate bread and jam. That was the concept. I thought it was funny to pun on jam and jamming. Brian and I were together-- I was learning a lot about jamming. Bread is money, is dough. What they do not teach you in art school-- how to make and stack cash.
Ben played a sax solo. Ben did not play a sax solo. Strawberry Jam and Saxophones.
I wrote that in 2011. Now, in 2013, I want to say,
I was thinking about history and experience as two landscapes superimposed on each other.
And now in 2015, I say, I had to use him, Picasso, as the advertising figure, the model, for my ideas. I didn't really know why, and it seemed absurd. In 2016, I would like to tell a story here about my mother auditioning for America's Funniest People in the early 90s. I remember the stage in the mall and the other contestants (one was a "psychotic businessman" with a gigantic early cellphone, slamming a stick on a dry erase board), my shame, the donuts... I'm not going to tell that story because we all have a story like that. So much is just working with what shows up. Picasso. They told me he was important and I should know about him and understand him in his time and ours. I took that very much to heart, that presentation of the world, because making pictures has always felt like the key. So I wanted to do it in the most sanctified way. That clean way-- it has always been variously inaccessible to me, close but no cigar, a near miss. I am a near miss.
So I am doing it this way, not profane, in between gentle and tame, walking through doors and around-- getting vague now, trailing off in 2016 as well...
In my dream, Dana-from-the-Past says, "I wanted to talk to college art students about the way the past shows up as a fiction that orients us in the present. I also wanted to talk with them about white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of domination, dissolving like fruit in sugar on heat (my mother taught me how to make jam). In a parallel justice, it would be criminal that I lacked the words. But maybe criminality wouldn't then be so harshly punished. Within a poetic justice that finds commonality always, I would pay my real debts to society."
Also, I wanted it to have the rhythm of the Wizard of Oz. That moment of the door opening onto the landscape in color, after the black and white world of Kansas. She wanted to get out.
The big, "Ta-da!" that he seemed to offer, and maybe really does?
Moments that make other moments seem to have a propulsion, a direction--so crucial to this desperate ordering. A powerpoint seemed to be where I was inevitably heading, even though I had dreamed a life of art would shield me from that program. I confess, I am socialized to be silly, though in my defense, it is all a little dire and a little silly in words.
I would dance with them. She says, "These big guys in the landscape are like the tower on Twin Peaks; orienting the narrative."
I would ask them, Are you writing yourself into the story? What story are you in? What is your story? Is your story on top of another's story? They would be like,
I was trying to digest another's 90s. It all should have gone much further back to the original woundings, not the echoes. There are many explanations, in friction, rubbings. Working in another artist's studio proved to be very disillusioning. I won't out her or that other one. They know who they are, these little tyrants. And our sorrowful lonelinesses punish us plenty. I know what it is to fear and hate, also to catch those beams. It's itchy at least.
We would be dancing and she would comment, "Skill and execution have a beauty all their own."
And we would be learning to trace, "Pablo Picasso," in the air. I'm holding up my hand. "This is a great paintbrush," she says. Ha ha, everyone shares a laugh. But he is still great. Now, you try.