Untitled (Large Iconscape), 1997 Oil on canvas 50 × 60 inches
Untitled (Large Iconscape), 1997
Oil on canvas 50 × 60 inches

When I had my breakout show “Pinocchio the Big Fag,” my thesis show from UC Irvine that had traveled to Rick Jacobsen’s seminal Kiki Gallery in San Francisco, the Drawing Center in New York, and finally Richard Telles Gallery in Los Angeles, I had appropriated different styles to create a salon of drawings that were like different plates from children’s books, as if my version of Pinocchio had existed along with the history of the original. From there, I really began, in a Post-Modern conceit, to appropriate styles to harbor the good baggage of how style can carry content, and so on, and had become somewhat known for having an agile hand, and tight rendering control. But during this time of the early 90’s, I was reading the first of the John Richardson Picasso biographies, and realized if Picasso wanted to create a still-life one day, he would do this, the next day if he wanted to do a portrait, he would create one, the next day a synthetic cubist image, he would paint this. Picasso said (I’m paraphrasing) “if you draw a circle without the aid of a compass, the imperfection is your style” and also “if you copy the Old Masters, how it’s not like the Old Masters is what is “you” about it..”. When my husband Andrew got into grad school in New York, I drove our old Daihatsu back to the city from LA, and I was listening to Brian Wilson’s Beach Boy’s, and I realized in his genius, Wilson was able to fuse the words/lyrics of his songs with the music to become one. When I arrived in NYC, I really felt that I wanted to get the “batteries that were operating the engine” of my different styles, to be able to get to the core, the emotive truth, of what those images was about. Why was I art directing myself in all these appropriations, instead of, if it was possible, to aestheticize pure feeling? I felt in a post Post Modern world, paintings COULD be windows onto other worlds, that paintings COULD be emotional, and have a “life of their own.” Instead of Jasper John’s targets, amazing Duchampian moves in painting for their time, but also subdued graphic images that were about their own objecthood than portals into space, could I make a work that had it’s own internal energy? Inspired somewhat by Van Gogh’s lights and stars, and even just the notion that supposedly “crazy people” drew and painted circles (in addition to Louise Bourgeois insomnia drawings) I started to create circle paintings and drawings (and other automatic renderings from my unconscious that I deem “Iconscapes”), that I wanted to have vacillate back and forth, like the “batteries were included” and that the painting would have a life of its own. I love Op Art, as I think when we are perceiving those illusions, although of course the painting itself isn’t moving (unless its kinetic!) when we become conscious of our own minds doing the work of the visceral sensation the work induces, it can create the sublime moment of self awareness and self objectification. I also still teach in drawing and painting foundation classes the “circle drawing/painting” where I have students put down a dot of color, and from that, after learning color theory and the color wheel, have them instinctively choose different bands of color/texture, with the ultimate goal of having the work go “whoopee-woopie-woo” or for it to have this energy of movement, push and pull, moving back and forth. It’s a terrific exercise for them to employ different affects of color theory in a concrete, fun way, and its amazing the personalities that individuate each of their works, that are always different in emotive tone and texture and palate—super constructive in having them not only learn about color and materials, but a simple, direct way for them to express who they are in works.

This large Iconscape was one of the last that I had created—I was able to show these in major group shows, including Luhring Augustine, Matthew Marks, Pat Hearn, and in my shows at Jay Gorney, however, as I had become known as the “circle painting guy” in part, they began to feel a bit like production, and I always want to keep my work vital and pertinent. But this one I really wanted to fly, to be intense, and when we had it in our home, Andrew insisted I turn it around, as he couldn’t handle how vibrant it was, something I felt must have been the success of the painting. After my Iconscapes were somewhat misunderstood, but also appreciated by the inner art world and by other artists, it was vindicating that the good people at Knoedler gave me a project room show of these works from the 90’s in 2011, and a wonderful couple bought this painting. Long after being stored in our cabin in California, and brought it to their penthouse directly across from the Whitney! Like a beacon, I feel that it was calling the Whitney to it, or visa-versa, and it was incredible to have it finally travel across the street to the installation. I am inspired every day by Picasso’s Guernica, and serendipitously, feel that the entire install resembles Guernica a bit, and like his lightbulb (of God?) in that composition, I feel that this is like a giant light, god’s eye, or mandala (traveling up from the Dalai Lama at Radio City Music Hall beneath it, becoming manifest and in the real space of the room?), and the heart, or light, of the installation of the composition.