a handmade book created for
Southern Exposure Gallery,
Pablo runs the garage part of the junk yard. He took me
on a tour of the grounds today. As we walked among the salvage,
he explained to me that they accumulate it from hauling
jobs. It is then recycled through the use of their skills
in carpentry, mechanics and business into a mish mash of
extensive projects . This enterprise is how they maintain
their independence from government funding while they restore
their lives from drug abuse, or abuse in general.
magnificant old dairy farm wedged between golden rolling
hills, with a dirt road that crawls out from the canyons
to run through its center, a garden, dusty dogs snoozing
in the shade, a big, lumbering, rickety hay barn that houses
the garage in the front, filled with used casting forms,
rusting radiators, scrap copper tubing, stacks of miscellaneous
wood in the back, and out in the field that stretches to
the railroad tracks there are piles of everything imaginable
scattered into the distance. Itís a diamond in the rough,
a piece of ancient rural history still standing that noone
notices as they wiz by on the overpass.
Pablo talked with
pride about his shop and how much work he puts into keeping
it running. Heís a syncopated Woodie Guthrie type character;
pants kinda hanginí on him, with the hem dragging on the
ground, the ever present Camel dangling from his lips and
a insouciant, quiet charisma. I knew we would get along
when I noticed that he had clipped a wing nut in his pants
to function as the top button of his fly.
October 16, 1991
Carmen is the gate keeper. He took me around his beat: an invisible network of roads, highways, camps and communities. The homeless are camouflage experts. They have to be. On the surface is the map that you buy at the filling station, but there is a parallel universe that exists in the same space. Kind of like the spirit world. The twilight zone. We are lead to believe that the map we buy from the filling station is the one and only reality. But it's not reality at all. It's just a map. Maps are sort of like brains. They're sort of like paintings.
If you look at aerial views of metropolises from around the world, you will find that there are a variety of patterns and that the Western version is only one of many. American cities are grids. African villages are a series of unfolding circles and spirals. Ancient Chinese cities are mandalas. Then there is the walk that Carmen took me on. In this map the lines are not so hard, they're kinda blurry. And they change alot.
Let's go back to the painting idea.
What I learned in art school is that there is an underpainting and an overpainting. There is a background and there is a foreground. But to me, the underpainting was the best part because it was the most intuitive. It's when you lay down fields of color and line, pushing them around, thick and thin splats of paint, washes, sweeps of your hand to try to find your way.
Now in academic traditional technique, the painting is not finished until there are hard edges, certain elements come into focus and dominance, and lines become more distinct. But after I finished years of art school and really began to paint, I realized that the whole damned thing was an underpainting. It's underpainting layered over underpainting. There's no such thing as an underpainting. You just paint.
So I suppose that if the walk Carmen took me on was the underpainting, and the map from the filling station was the the overlaying grid, then our society is an academic piece of art. If we removed the grid, then we would have the railroad tracks, the tall grass, the wind, the ghosts, the invisible roads, music, color, love and violence. We would have a piece of poetry.
I asked Carmen if he could hook me up with some guys from
the Mission to help me gather stuff for my piece. It was
a hauling job with ethical labor standards;
decent pay, in cash, and an hour break for a giant burrito
in the middle. He sent me Bob and Allen and off we went
to get our six truck loads.
We had a blast! Aside from Allenís
relentless kidding about junk, and, having grown up in a
rather grimey trailer park, the fact that he didnít know
he was living in the middle of art all that time, our comedy
meandered along with wild spectacles piled upon my pick-up
truck. One load was a mangled camper shell that was too
big for my bed; hanging over the sides like the lid of a
shoe box. Almost scraping the ground, it was a scadged,
Mad Max version of a low rider, with Bob sitting on top
of it all to hold down flying debris. Another load included
a completely twisted set of wire shelving with a bouffant-like
tumbleweed jutting out of it. Allen kept calling my companion
Jed, because he wore a hat like Jed Clampet, the Beverly
Hill Billy who drove a weighted down model T along Sunset
Boulevard. But the best riff was when we decided that my
truck looked like a dilapidated parade float with the boys
perched on the back, waving like beauty queens. As we passed the gawking hordes of Silicon corporate minions, Bob and Aleen would yell at them, barking, "get a job!"