Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Altered Border States

Altered Border States, 2009. 16"x5.25" watercolor
You may recognize the hill on the right from Ms. Moments of Clarity's post. She's very prolific, so it was a long time ago that she put it up.

This continues my series on marks and signs found in my environment. In this case, an ominous [literal] sign—courtesy of the Parks Department— completely transformed my sense of the landscape in front of me that day. The innocent landscape was instantly a place of unease. And yet, the sign was also intrinsically ridiculous.

In preparing for the painting, I was stitching images in Photoshop, and realized that each layer I added obscured something below in the previous. So, my obscured images might include armies of "illegals," and you would never know. Just as I couldn't know, as I stood there painting plein air, if there was a band of drug smugglers camped on the back side of that hill in front of me. And I realized that the stitched image had become a metaphor for my experience of the altered landscape: it became disjointed, a landscape reframed as something else, something alien.

It is a part of this series that I reproduce something in the landscape that is already a man-made mark. These marks are art in its most basic form: artifice, for the purpose of expressing communication. So, the series is about making a mark about an encounter with another mark. But, the medium (pretty traditional watercolor) is used to signify the traditions of fine art and the art industry: my expressions of other's signs, images and scribbles found in passing through the world, becomes—not without irony—art "for the gallery."