“To say in words what words can not say.” Victor Zuckerkandl
The works in this website are the result of years of searching and finding, losing and changing.
I began using words in my art in the early 1960’s in Houston, Texas. I am still using and experimenting with words to this day.
Initially I felt I had to break down the barriers of making sense by just listing words taken at random from the dictionary and putting them on canvas and board sometimes by themselves, at other times with designed or familiar images in which words were covered. The idea of taking the word out of context opened a new visual world for me. I continue to experiment with words, looking for and creating new relationships between the form of the word and a variety of images.
Many of the pieces have specific references both verbal and visual. I often purposely use clichés and combine them with imagery from various sources (i.e. designs and photographs that are Xeroxed). The pictures and title combine to re-invent the cliché for the viewer. Over time and repeated readings, unexpected connections and narratives are made.
To me making art is chancy and uncertain, but these are also essential ingredients for a determined innovative approach to art. This attitude led me to the technique of cutting words out of wood and creating word relief pictures as well as 3-dimensional word sculptures. Some of these pieces are covered in Xerox text or images while others are painted or I allowed the texture of the wood to help carry the idea of the piece.
There were a couple times when I put the word pieces on hold to experiment with other art forms. Once was in New York City for a period of six months when I did some pipe and cable installations. Another time was in 1984 after a long (9 year) dry period when I started doing paintings. The paintings eventually led me back to using words first in conjunction with the paintings then in words where the word itself played a major role.
The total shape of the word piece also carries interest for me. At first I used square and rectangular forms on which I layered the words. Later I used the shape of the cross. I layered words selected at random on the cross, motivated by expressions such as “star crossed,” “cross corners,” etc.
Two series which I produced in the 1990’s had to do with expressions made in films. These expressions in turn became popular in many cultures especially in his country. The first was “You talkin’ to me?” from the film Taxi Driver with Robert DeNiro made in 1977. The second was “What a Dump” uttered by Bette Davis in a film titled The Other Side of the Forest made in 1949. Albeit neither of these expressions are of mythical or Biblical proportions, I felt they were worth investigating and investing time in. The results to me were successful and satisfied my curiosity.
Ideas can be re-used for a thousand variations supplying the framework for a whole body of work rather than just a single piece. I have tried to do work that is new and exciting. Using words in various ways is my primary interest and I hope to continue in this direction.
Some people see my work and look for hidden messages or misspelled words. Well, there are no hidden messages. There may be a couple of misspelled words and you are certainly welcome to look for them. I like to think of them as typographical errors.
“Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.” Stephen De Staebler.