Over the summer I wrote a string of consciousness thing for a thing, and it never got published. Here it is and unedited
June 10th, 2018
Yesterday I saw a double rainbow. I spent the previous 7 hours car shopping. It was a long stressful and grey day of mostly bad coffee and numbers. I was packing up my car that had brought me through the last third of my life. A car that saw me through my wandering post college years, my honeymoon, and bringing my son home from the hospital.
As I was walking back into the dealership to sign a million documents, I saw an edge of a rainbow. Me being me I bolted to grab my three year old son and wife, so I could share it with them.
There is this funny glee that comes with parenting. I get irrationally excited to see fire trucks and construction vehicle, and get bummed out if my kid is asleep and misses the excitement. This is the same impulse that leads to me video recording ant hills on my morning commute to show him later.
After having made him suffer through a day long slog of auto dealerships, I was not going to let this rainbow pass without sharing it. We ran outside. There just past the suburban sprawl of the DC beltway was not just one but two rainbows. My son, wife, and I were transfixed and a little giddy.
This magical moment of light refracting off rain was one of the shortest bleeps on our day of drudgery. We will likely forget the sandwiches we ate for lunch, the gross play space at the first dealership, and the names of everyone who helped us but new car day will always be tied to an epic rainbow.
I make mostly light art. There is nothing special or new about an artist paying attention to light. Aside from maybe Tino Sehgal, light and at times the absence of light is the most basic building block of art creation and viewing.
My art training strongly benefited from starting it in Kansas. Outsiders may complain about the flatness, but Kansans will tell you about the importance of seeing the horizon. Now over a decade removed from Kansas, I still get claustrophobic and cranky when I have gone too long without seeing all of the sky.
When the sun’s light hits the atmosphere the rays get diffused and scattered across sky creating that pure blue sky. It’s easy to forget that the blue is light just like the sun. It is the wide spray setting on your shower head as oppose to the high pressure single stream that is the sun. The natural light of day is not this single point, but this thing that envelops us. A big blue blanket.
Notice the sky. Look up.
Recently I found out that my sister and I have a weird thing in common. We both take pictures of the sky regularly. We don’t share these pictures. We just hold on to them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness and why I make art. Many days I would just rather relax, play video games, or go to bed early, but there is this itch that must be scratched. There is a noticeable effect on my mood when I go without making or engaging with art.
I don’t think it is really about making. I suspect that my drive to make art is really a coping mechanism. A brain hack to the shortest path of happiness for me.
Seeing and experiencing beauty brings me/you joy. It is a simple and understandable concept, but I think it is really easy to miss out on beauty. Most people go to art museums and galleries to see something beautiful. It is great. You are primed to expect and thus look for beauty. This is probably why when art spaces show more conceptual grounded works viewers can become angry. They came for beauty and got a photo of a chair next to the chair.
My key to happiness is to take that museum priming and try my hardest to wake up with it every day. “ Today I will see something beautiful” is a mantra. It keeps me looking and waiting.. I don’t expect to end each day weeping as I behold a Michelangelo. It is about really looking at the world as I pass through it. Stopping to observe ants swarming a dropped snack. It is a practice of observing how the shadows are different at 12:05 and 1:05, how tree branches share their colors when they touch, and how the contractor did a bad job matching the exterior paint and there is a weird shimmer between the two shades.
Here is the true greatness to the gift of being an artist. If I have gone all day without a little moment of beauty I get a chance to try to make my own.
Keep looking for the rainbows, but be ready to see how the dew on the grass is reflecting the red of the McDonald’s signage.
Crayon Colors I Want
(based on observations)
Morris Louis’ Veils
Pipilotti Rist’s Skies
Faded Postal Uniforms
Overly Steeped Tea
Rain on Hot Stone
Cloud Gate On A Dreary Day
Science Fair Carnations
Dried Out Highlighter Gradients
Poison Ivy Scar
Baseball Field Dandelion
Ice Maker Ice
Kodachrome Grand Canyon
Burnt Out Bulb
Water Froth (aka River Scum)
All The Sodas Mixed Together
90’s Computer Case
Space Between Double Rainbow
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Bleached Black T-shirt
Original Statue of Liberty
Hot Sauce in Soup