My studio feels like a meat locker today. Working on a nice warm laptop seems like a good idea.

For a long time this image has sat on the bubble – that is to say, it has occupied a corner of the studio and my mind. It has been either on its way to the scrap heap or onward to further attention.  A brief description: this is of medium density particle board, incised with a router and depicting a portion of Akron, Ohio in the form of a map. It has been around for a few years and has undergone a number of changes in response to a variety of notions on my part. Prior to this iteration it had been painted red with mica glitter occupying the grooves. Pointless.

Those notions? A map is an abstraction that reorganizes and/or simplifies in a useful fashion.  I have posited that one can create a new complexity from a map, retaining a sense of the facts on the ground  while introducing something of the artist.  I’m sure there are those for whom such a task would be easy. For me it has been a major problem.  I have adopted a number of approaches- all bothersome to a degree. An example…

One approach has been to make the incised map into something of an artifact. This painting represents a section  of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park south of Cleveland. Here one can find nomenclature and surveyed boundaries sharing a common treatment with natural and artificial features. The surface was then rubbed over to create a worn and rusted look. A little Oldenburgian. It doesn’t make much of a statement, however, except to perhaps allude to a recent glacial history.

This example represents a train station in Paris and another in Rome butt-ended together: a short trip under a bridge from one city to the other.  A cute little manipulation I must admit, but no appropriate treatment emerged. I finally resorted to giving it a celadon-over-black look using thick layers of drippy varnish.

With the first example I have made reference to the jumble of shapes and colors that make up an urban area, and feel o.k. about doing so.  Imagine that you have been assigned a map to paint. What would you do?

Finally, my apologies to those of you who object to bad photography. It’s been too cold and windy to go out and get a good shot.