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The evolution of an artist’s life and work, being a personal and reflective journal 1982

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THE EVOLUTION OF AN ARTIST'S LIFE AND WORK BEING A PERSONAL AND REFLECTIVE JOURNAL by Harry Andrew Stanbridge B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1974 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS IN EDUCATION We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l 1982 (c) Harry Andrew Stanbridge, 1982 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Harry Andrew Stanbridge Department of Visual and Performing Arts in Education The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date April 16, 1982 DE-6 (3/81) ABSTRACT This personal and r e f l e c t i v e journal concerns i t s e l f with the evolution of an a r t i s t ' s l i f e and work s p e c i f i c a l l y as i t relates to those forces that determine the indi v i d u a l ' s philosophic perspective, as well as shape the form and content of his art. Three d i s t i n c t yet related aspects of the a r t i s t ' s l i f e were analyzed by using s l i d e s of the a r t i s t ' s paintings that were produced i n the relevant periods. Ch r i s t i a n conversion and i t s subsequent e f f e c t on the a r t i s t ' s l i f e and philosophy were the f i r s t consideration. An analysis i s done of the work leading to the conversion showing the e f f e c t on the a r t i s t of i n f l u e n t i a l l o c a l and international a r t i s t s . As well, the role of l i t e r a r y ideas as a stimulus for v i s u a l expression i s touched upon. The nature of form and content, as i t manifests i t s e l f i n the paintings done during the conversion period and afterward, i s examined i n an attempt to show a resolution of s t y l e i n the a r t i s t ' s work. The second area of r e f l e c t i v e inquiry was the r o l e of the a r t i s t as a teacher of art at the secondary l e v e l . Teaching and working i n d i f f e r e n t mediums i n the classroom s i t u a t i o n were looked at to see what influence, i f any, they had on the a r t i s t ' s attitude to form and content i n his own work. The general demands of teaching, apart from the d i s c i p l i n e of art, are considered as they relate to the pressures of time and th e i r importance i n the production of the a r t i s t ' s work. The t h i r d area relates to the f i r s t as i t p a r a l l e l s and evolves out of the philosophic perceptions of the a r t i s t and t h e i r relationships to his public. Throughout the journal and i n the analysis of the s l i d e s , close attention i s paid to s t y l e , that i s , the form the content takes and whether or not the a r t i s t ' s intent has been r e a l i z e d , i n making his art v i s u a l l y accessible. The text i s an exegetical account of the s l i d e s and i t i s recommended that i t be read i n conjunction with the projected s l i d e images of the author's work. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Page LIST OF FIGURES V Chapter I. INTRODUCTION 1 Growing Up Formative Years at Art School Mentors A Dark Foreshadowing Post Art School II . THE CONVERSION 20 The Search for Meaning A Purge Airbrush Drawings I I I . CHANGES 32 Bread, Thorns, Rocks A Short Tangent A Change of Place Synthesis by Serendipity IV. THE ARTIST IN SCHOOL 4 5 Surviving the System Great Expectations Temptations V. RECLAMATION 56 VI. CONCLUSIONS 62 ENDNOTES 7 0 BIBLIOGRAPHY 7 2 APPENDIX A. LIST OF SLIDES, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE IN THE TEXT, WITH SIZE, MEDIUM AND DATE 7 4 (\ioVc: "TWe-=>e -slide.*, o~<e- \ * Spexta\ Co llcc-fio^s.. V LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. A Close-up Line Drawing of Tombs #1 14 2. A Close-up Line Drawing of Saved by Grace 23 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Tolstoy said that i n order to define any human a c t i v i t y i t i s necessary to understand i t s sense and importance; and i n order to do t h i s i t i s pr i m a r i l y necessary to examine that a c t i v i t y i n i t s e l f , i n i t s dependence on i t s causes and i n connection with i t s effects.1 Heeding t h i s advice, I s h a l l begin t h i s r e f l e c t i v e journal with a short preamble that deals with some s a l i e n t experiences that helped make my personality and character. Though these experiences happened before the period I intend to consider, I believe they are among the prime reasons for the manifestation i n my conscious and unconscious mind of powerful death images that haunted my dreams. Those past experiences started out as extraordinary events and continued to shape my personality and character as I matured. Formative as they were, they are i n t e g r a l to the understanding of my earl y work. Growing Up I was born i n Quesnel, at that time a t i n y sawmill town i n the i n t e r i o r of B.C. My parents were what I 2 considered to be i n the broadest sense, middle class and I was raised with the s e n s i b i l i t i e s usually associated with that group. I had a r e l a t i v e l y happy childhood, and I r e t a i n fond memories of the landscape and i t s seasonal tranformations. A traumatic experience marred t h i s otherwise undisturbed pre-adolescence. My father was an a l c o h o l i c at that time, and he f e l l into disreputable relationships that nearly broke up our family. I s t i l l carry deep within me that fear of unreconciled separation and a l i e n a t i o n . I t l i e s at the door of every r e l a t i o n s h i p . Evidence of t h i s can be seen i n the painting Blue Lady (Slides 1 & 2) which demonstrates a preoccupation with that s p e c i f i c psychological condition. I w i l l come back to an analysis of t h i s work further on i n the paper. My schooling had a dubious s t a r t , as I f a i l e d grade two, and i t did not improve when I became a teenager, f a i l i n g again (along with one seventh of my school mates) i n grade ten. I think that I was passed out of high school when there remained no more art classes for me to take. As a teenager, my peer group consisted of those who were as a t h l e t i c a l l y involved as I. My art involvement at that time consisted of painting signs, building displays i n my father's grocery, and painting 3 the names on the sides of hot rods. It was t h i s preoccupation with cars that would lead me to the most cataclysmic experience of my l i f e . My peer group drank excessively, and I was no exception. Many weekends could be counted as l o s t i n that small i n t e r i o r town, but none more than that f a t e f u l one that altered my l i f e i n the F a l l of 1962. I was involved i n a spectacular car crash that claimed the l i f e of a g i r l f r i e n d ; and, as I was responsible, the g u i l t of t h i s act rested heavily upon my shoulders, even though I was forgiven by the g i r l ' s family. For years afterwards I dreamed of the screeching t i r e s and the destruction of the car. I can s t i l l see the bodies, d o l l - l i k e , spread down the d i t c h where the crushed car came to rest. Before me I saw my l i f e , transformed. In that instant I saw f i n a l i t y and s i l e n t awesome death. The zest for l i f e I once had paled and, as the experience continued to a f f e c t me, my laugh became crimped, tainted with another knowledge. It was a knowledge that held i n sharp focus the r e a l i t y of death. It was because of these potent experiences that I would l a t e r become preoccupied with dreams as a source of imagery i n my a r t . 4 Formative Years at Art School . In reviewing my l i f e i n tracing i t s course, I f i l l my c e l l with the pleasure of being...so that I may hurl myself into them as into dark p i t s , those moments when I strayed through trap-ridden compartments of a subterranean sky.2 In 1963 I enrolled at the Vancouver School of Art with the intention of becoming a commercial a r t i s t , perhaps encouraged by the small success I experienced i n my father's grocery store. I t was at a r t school that I began to search for a meaning to the questions so b r u t a l l y posed by my e a r l i e r experiences. In the writings of e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s such as Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, i n the perverted philosophy of Marquis de Sade, and the sexual l i b e r a t i o n of Henry M i l l e r and Jean Genet, I started to form a thoughtful structure, hoping to understand, and cope with, the past. Genet's writing was es p e c i a l l y formative. He seemed to express from his real prison the desperate trapped f e e l i n g I had experienced i n my s e l f imposed one. Comparing the painting Blue Lady (Slide 2) with the preceding quote from Genet's Our Lady of Flowers makes t h i s point as the man i n the painting stares into 3 the trap-ridden compartments of a subterranean sky." The e x i s t e n t i a l and Libertine philosophy I was 5 developing by reading t h i s type of l i t e r a t u r e gave me a perspective that helped make some sense of the pain and g u i l t I was bearing. Furthermore, the heavy nightmares that generated the desperate figures peopling the landscapes of my canvases were confirmed by these writers' v i s i o n of an absurd universe. Nevertheless, the passion and commitment I found i n the work of these writers and the co r r e l a t i o n to the evolution of my art education convinced me that I must paint. There was nothing else as important. I f e l t c a l l e d to that p a r t i c u l a r form of a r t . Mentors From my studies I was inspired by the a r t i s t s who could manipulate paint and give to that colored mud expressions of deep human feelings. Chaim Soutine (1894-1943), Willem de Kooning (1904- ), and Francis Bacon (1909- ) were among the master painters I i d e n t i f i e d with i n a psychological and p l a s t i c way. They transformed t h e i r angst into a tangible and often t e r r i b l e r e a l i t y as they rendered i n paint the human condition i n a manner that had never been attempted before. These a r t i s t s bore witness to the darker side of man i n an absurd world f l o a t i n g i n a s i l e n t 6 universe. This bleak view of humanity was a shared attitude of Bacon and de Kooning at that time, and I i d e n t i f i e d with i t completely, though perhaps a l i t t l e naively. Their philosophy on painting dovetailed b e a u t i f u l l y into my inter p r e t a t i o n of the e x i s t e n t i a l thought of Camus, the l i b e r a l i s m of M i l l e r , and seemed, to me at l e a s t , v i v i d l y to r e c a l l de Sade. Like many of the a r t i s t s and poets of the time de Kooning and Bacon perceive chance as a muse. Reason i s l e f t behind as they curse the fl e s h that houses t h e i r humanity. Francis Bacon states, " . . . r e a l painting i s a 4 mysterious and continuous struggle with chance." Bacon appears to have perceived the universe as a chaotic grouping of antagonistic relationships where man struggles with chance much as Sysyphus pushed the boulder up the h i l l . There are no absolute answers for Bacon who was "obsessed by the cruelty shown by humans to t h e i r fellows, and to a n i m a l s . B a c o n ' s philosophy i s carried over into h i s painting, where the "...subject i s subordinate to the paint, and painting i s an accident." de Kooning echoes t h i s same attitude. In discussion with Thomas Hess about the way he paints, Hess r e f l e c t s that, "...part of his idea i s to keep everything up i n the a i r at the same time, to make 7 himself open, to l e t any idea that happens to be 7 f l o a t i n g around have i t s chance." It i s i n the philosophy manifested i n Bacon's and de Kooning's painting methods that I found purpose and j u s t i f i c a t i o n for the universal silence of Camus. There was no Absolute, not even a reason to answer to — only myself, swept up by the persuasive philosophies of Camus and Sartre, and the expressive paintings of de Kooning and Bacon, and abandoned to the winds of chance. Soutine portrayed " f l e s h " as the "primary element, g the primordial material." Like de Kooning, Soutine imbued his expressively energetic brush strokes with an emotional qu a l i t y : as much of the content rested i n the actual brush strokes as i n the figure. In his s e l f - p o r t r a i t s and paintings of carcasses he expressed i n p a i n t e r l y terms what I f e l t : a sort of choked scream. Soutine, within the expressive meaning of his brush strokes, communicated his passion with an almost screaming si l e n c e . I f u l l y endorsed these a r t i s t s ' perception of mankind. Their philosophic and metaphyscial attitude to painting became my attitude as w e l l . I incorporated t h e i r methods of composition as I f e l t they best described the idea of a l i e n a t i o n . With a few 8 exceptions, t h e i r f i g u r a t i v e work i s structured i n a totemic manner. This i s , the ground i n which the figure acts, i s subordinate to the fi g u r e . The focus i s on a singular dominant image that either f l o a t s alone or i s entangled on an almost empty ground, as i n Bacon's work, or i s f i l l e d to i t s extremities as i n de Kooning's Women. This compositional device attracted me because i t seemed to emphasize the importance of the figure i n a l l i t s expressions; as well, i t reinforced the concept of alienation i n the s i n g u l a r i t y of the image as i t related to the i n d i v i d u a l . Except for s l i d e s and productions of t h e i r work, these a r t i s t s were far removed from me, either dead, as i n the case of Soutine, or geographically, as i n the case of Bacon i n England, and de Kooning i n New York. It was two Vancouver a r t i s t s , David Mayrs (19 35- ), and Claude Breeze (1938- ), who touched my.life most intensely, and influenced my work most d i r e c t l y . David Mayrs, who was to become a close fr i e n d , was himself s i g n i f i c a n t l y influenced i n his early work by de Kooning, an example being the large f i g u r a t i v e work, 9 American Tragedy, of 1964. Claude Breeze tended more to the s e n s i b i l i t i e s of Francis Bacon. Breeze's influence i s quite evident i n 9 my work of that period, and I believe that t h i s i s due i n part to similar perceptions we had of the world around us. Breeze's concern for f l a t color f i e l d s with loose expressionistic brush work defining the fig u r a t i v e form, as i n the painting, Sunday Afternoon, (from an American photograph) of 1968"^ also influenced me. Psychologically, I was s t i l l connected to my own sources, and the pain and ali e n a t i o n I was expressing were no less r e a l . It i s noteworthy, comparing the work of Breeze to mine, that during t h i s time he seemed to have solved most of his figure/ground problems, whereas I was s t i l l wrestling with the contradictions i m p l i c i t i n juxtaposing color f i e l d and expressionistic f i g u r a t i v e painting s t y l e s . In attempting to maintain the v i s u a l unity of the free gestural brush strokes i n that f l a t pure color f i e l d a tension was set up within me that i n h i b i t e d the free brushwork. This caused the figures that should have been rendered i n an expressive manner to f l o a t s t i f f l y on the surface of the canvas. This can be seen c l e a r l y i n Tomb 2 (Slide 4). In retrospect i t seems that a resolution could have come about i f I had broken the surface of my ground with some intermediate rendering; that would soften up the edge defining the figure and the ground. This i s the device 10 that Breeze used to unify figure and ground. This problem was to concern me from approximately 196 7 to 1969 (Slides 1-15)„ At that time I did not f u l l y understand the philosophic intent of the almost ascetic positivism of formalism, of which hardedge and c o l o r f i e l d painting were representative. Hardedge and c o l o r f i e l d painting were just becoming popular i n my f i n a l year of art school, and t h i s popularity coupled with the advance of p l a s t i c paint technology and marketing, became an unavoidable influence. The seduction of the new materials played an important role i n my image development i n t h i s sense. With a growing budget ,the Art School was buying bulk orders of canvas and paint. No longer did students have to purchase at r e t a i l p r i c e s . The p l a s t i c s market was becoming vigorous i n winning over " o i l painters" to t h i s better non-toxic smell-free way of painting. Many recent graduates and i n f l u e n t i a l young a r t i s t s were returning from abroad with what seemed revolutionary attitudes to paint usage. At that time, Bodo P f e i f f e r , another Vancouver a r t i s t was completing a major hardedge mural complementing Guido Molinari's green and orange stri p e s at the Vancouver Airport. Michael Morris had returned from London, and his s t a i n l e s s s t e e l / 11 mirrored/stripe paintings were becoming i n f l u e n t i a l . Furthermore, the Los Angeles Six; Larry B e l l , Irwin, et a l . exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery"'"''" showed everyone just how s l i c k and sensuous a surface could be achieved with the appropriate technology. The new found a c c e p t a b i l i t y of masking tape, r o l l e r s , and spray guns expanded my p o s s i b i l i t i e s of pain t e r l y discovery. These new tools and techniques also exerted some influence on the d i r e c t i o n that content and meaning were to take i n my painting. As an awareness of the importance of surface was a predominant concern for many painters at t h i s time, the move to p l a s t i c paint from o i l paint was in e v i t a b l e . The major problem I had getting large f i e l d s of color to be completely even and without dry spots now no longer existed. Rolled on glazes, airbrushed blends, sprayed tonal modulations were now possible. One did not have to use a brush and make a thousand strokes to accomplish the same e f f e c t . Not only was the surface as a sensuous and t a c t i l e component important at t h i s time, but the edge of the form, the delineation of space where that sensuous surface existed, became clearer, f i n e r and harder with the use of masking tape. Everything was being cleaned except my state of mind. 12 A Dark Foreshadowing It i s now necessary to return to a personal anecdote i n order to understand the next development. One evening, while i n second year at art school, three art student friends and I played the Ouija board. It seemed to work i n whatever manner those boards do, and as the evening progressed we asked the board more s p e c i f i c and penetrating questions, the most memorable being at what age each of us would die. The prediction for the three other art students* deaths a l l ranged i n the 69-72 age bracket. However, the prediction for my death was 27 years of age. We a l l laughed, nervously ended the game, drank the rest of our wine and went our separate ways. The prediction of the evening haunted me; however, I t r i e d to put i t out of my mind. I not only had a dark heart condition, but also a bleak outlook on l i f e . As well I had a mind f u l l of loose ends that were being compounded by the influence of Formalism on t h i s inherently expressive painter. As mentioned before, I was attracted to those a r t i s t s who with expressionistic brush strokes v i s u a l i z e d dramatically the inner state of man. I f e l t that, i f I could achieve a ground that gave one the f e e l i n g of 13 empty space and v i s u a l l y unite i t with the expressionistic brush work and p a i n t e r l y f i g u r e , I would achieve a suitable e x i s t e n t i a l statement that v i s u a l l y expressed my views that man exists i n a vacant and s i l e n t space, where every and any decision i s r e a l l y absurd, and only death i s absolute. Aside from surface considerations, the composition i n my early work, though being totemic, involved the use of ambiguous figure/ground relationships, such as Blue Lady (Slide 1). This has been a recurring convention i n my work, finding i t s roots i n the work of Picasso and Cubism (see his women of the 1963 period). This convention, I believe, allowed me to attempt the simultaneous v i s u a l i z i n g of opposite ideas of feelings, such as love and hate. I t was a perfect vehicle to convey the horror of deceit behind the mask of love and compassion, giving the viewer an unsettling f e e l i n g that perhaps things are not what they appear. A constant theme i n these early works (Slides 1-7) i s that of a l i e n a t i o n : a theme sympathetic with e x i s t e n t i a l philosophy and compatible with t h i s a r t i s t ' s psychological state of mind. The decapitated figures^ heads are not only separated from t h e i r body but, as i n Tomb 1 (Slide 3), those same heads, being representative of the psyche, f l o a t above the opposite body. 14 The male head i s above a dis i n t e g r a t i n g female form and the female head i s above a neuro-sexual cut out diagram of the male. This was how I perceived myself at the time i n r e l a t i o n to those closest to me. Connected yet not wholly there, an observer, sensing and f e e l i n g but 15 i n the same si t u a t i o n estranged. This sense of alienation i s heightened by four parallelograms that suggest the end of two p h a l l i c shaped c o f f i n s . In the attempted embrace of these two strange figures that hold each other as objects, an awkward balance i s achieved, with the ends of the c o f f i n s pinching the two heads and holding them l i k e a trap. Tomb 2 (Slide 4) shows a f l o a t i n g or ascending female form, again decapitated, with silhouettes i n bubbles moving o f f i n perspective to what appears to be a rectangular mirror shape or open c o f f i n , r e f l e c t i n g or containing a transparent mask receding into the darkness. This preoccupation with decapitation and r e f l e c t e d l i f e / d e a t h masks began to subside shortly a f t e r I l e f t a r t school and reached a p a r t i a l conclusion i n the paintings Ash Box and Prison (Slides 6 & 7). In these l a t e r works such as Sense Box (Slide 5), freer brush work i n the landforms can be seen asserting i t s e l f on the hardedges and clean monochromatic surfaces. This s i g n i f i e d a change. Post Art School The works following t h i s period show a d i s t i n c t evolution towards the u n i f i c a t i o n of figure and ground. It i s here that an open space appears i n the picture plane. The rectangle or box shape that once held only ominous death masks or grim r e f l e c t i o n s , has now become a window. Within t h i s window a landscape can be seen, intimating a sense of freedom, as i n the t r a n s i t i o n a l painting Dream Room 1 (Slide 8); nevertheless i t s t i l l r etains a sense of helpless a l i e n a t i o n . The two figures i n Dream Room 1 have become one and seem to be observing, from a manikin-like head, (the male figure has no head) a transparent screen on which the ambiguous forms of male/female genitals are the f o c i . The surface i n the following works (Slides 8-12) becomes more subtle. The colors become cooler and greyed. In the Dream Room paintings (Slides 8 & 9) the influence of airbrush spraying i s evident. The spray e f f e c t i s used to enhance the continued involvement with ambiguous space. I t incorporates s t y l i z e d references to male and female genitals. I t i s also s i g n i f i c a n t , I think, that t h i s developing convention was helping to resolve the figure/ground relationships, most notably i n the painting In (Slide 10). With t h i s 17 painting, as well as i n Dream Room 2 and Hydra (Slides 9 & 12), the sprayed cut out female forms do not remain as an object of attention by the figures rendered i n f l e s h l i k e brush strokes as they do i n Dream Room 1 (Slide 8). Rather, they seem to activate the space around the figure. Furthermore, while maintaining the i n t e g r i t y of the female form, the shapes continue to render the surface of the picture plane i n an ambiguous manner. The box, now become window, remains; however, i t i s unattainable, an ide a l i z e d peaceful landscape. As much of my i n s p i r a t i o n has come from l i t e r a r y sources, as well as dreams, i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t that there i s a narrative q u a l i t y to much of my work; my work can be read. For example, i n Dream Room 2 (Slide 9), the dark blue part of the picture plane has become l i k e the box/coffin, enclosing or framing the action. An arm reaches out and across towards the i n v i t i n g , hopeful window. The owner of the arm i s hidden, but by implication he i s positioned facing a deep blue wall. His reach i s intercepted by a breast rendered i n f l e s h tones. A l l the forms, both p o s i t i v e and negative, are feminine, and they activate the space i n which the owner of the arm resides. His hand does not grip the breast, i t i s tentative. This i s not what 18 i t i s seeking. Perhaps t h i s painting, more than any other, i l l u s t r a t e s the inner need I f e l t for some meaning outside of, yet related to, myself. I had a need to go beyond the absurd. I wanted something meaningful, even as absolute as death. In an attempt to f i n d some meaning i n my existence I began reading K h a l i l Gibran, whose writing awoke within me a sense of the eternal that i s i n a l l men. At the same time I studied the Tao and experimented with the I Ching, an ancient Chinese book of wisdom that was popular at the time. The search for meaning seemed to be evolving towards s p i r i t u a l and metaphysical aspects of existence. Among my contemporaries i n the l a t e s i x t i e s , the p o s i t i v e and enlightening sensory and s p i r i t u a l experiences obtained through the use of mind expanding drugs was being e x t o l l e d . I e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y endorsed these experiments i n hope that they would lead to a more meaningful perception of who I was i n the world. However, for me i t only widened the gap between my perceived need for a meaningful absolute other than death, and the absurd e x i s t e n t i a l attitude I tenuously maintained. In the paintings Recept and Hydra (Slides 11 & 12) there are indications that the box/window convention i s losing i t s potency, unable to hold the 19 figure. For example, the figure appears to be throwing i t s e l f about the picture plane i n Recept (Slide 11). This work foreshadows what i s to come. 20 CHAPTER II THE CONVERSION "How can a man be born when he i s old?" Nicodemus asked. Jesus answered, "I t e l l you the truth. Unless a man i s born of water and the s p i r i t , he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives b i r t h to f l e s h , but the s p i r i t gives b i r t h to s p i r i t . " John 3, V. 4,5,6. In my twenty seventh year I painted Saved by Grace (Slide 13). This canvas was executed the day a f t e r I had an intense physical and s p i r i t u a l experience while attending a small, crowded church i n East Vancouver. At that time I experienced an unconditional release from g u i l t . I t seemed an inexplicable thing that happened to me. Metaphysically I had died, just as the o u i j a board had predicted. I f e l t psychologically and p h y s i c a l l y cleansed and whole. I had no way at that time of reasoning how or why i t happened. Up to t h i s time my career as a n , a r t i s t and my s o c i a l and economic a b i l i t i e s had sustained me reasonably w e l l . I had a good part-time job as a kitchen porter at a l o c a l hospital that enabled me to maintain a storefront studio, with l i v i n g space, i n the rear. I was receiving increasing recognition for my work. I had won the Purchase Award at the 4 0th International Northwest 21 P r i n t m a k e r s E x h i b i t i n S e a t t l e a n d t h i s o p e n e d d o o r s t o e x h i b i t i o n s a s f a r s o u t h a s San D i e g o . A two man show t h a t i n c l u d e d t h e p a i n t i n g s In_ and R e c e p t ( S l i d e s 10 & 11) a t t h e B a u - X i G a l l e r y was w e l l r e c e i v e d , t h o u g h i t was n o t a f i n a n c i a l s u c c e s s . A t t h a t t i m e a s h o r t - t e r m C a nada C o u n c i l g r a n t was e n a b l i n g me t o p r o d u c e a s e r i e s o f s i l k s c r e e n p r i n t s w i t h m a s t e r p r i n t e r B i l l ( T e r r a ) B o n n i e m a n . My w o r k seemed t o be e v o l v i n g t o w a r d s a r e s o l u t i o n o f t h e f i g u r e / g r o u n d p r o b l e m s t h a t had b e e n p l a g u i n g me up t o t h i s d a t e . I t a p p e a r e d t o me t h a t I was o n t h e " t h r e s h o l d o f r e a l i z i n g a w h o l l y p e r s o n a l s t y l e , o f m o v i n g o u t f r o m u n d e r t h e shadows o f my m e n t o r s . A c o u n t e r p o i n t t o t h i s p o s i t i v e e x p e c t a n c y e x i s t e d i n my s o c i a l a t t i t u d e a n d i n how i t s h a p e d my b e h a v i o r t o w a r d s o t h e r s . I was g i v e n t o e x c e s s i v e d r i n k i n g , a n d l i v i n g a l i b e r t i n e , and b o h e m i a n l i f e s t y l e . T h i s t y p e o f e x i s t e n c e d i d n o t h i n g t o e n c o u r a g e a p o s i t i v e s e l f - c o n c e p t . On t h e c o n t r a r y , i t a d d e d t o t h e a l r e a d y s u b s t a n t i a l g u i l t I was b e a r i n g . I c o u l d r u n my l i f e l i k e w a t e r o v e r t h e s t o n e o f my g u i l t , k n o w i n g t h a t t h e w a t e r o f l i f e w o u l d e v e n t u a l l y w e a r away t h e s t o n e , b u t t h e r i p p l e t h a t s t o n e c a u s e d i n my l i f e o n l y g r e w l a r g e r . The s p i r i t u a l c o n c e p t s I h e l d w e r e a b l e n d o f e a s t e r n 22 mysticism, the Tao, e x i s t e n t i a l ideas, and sc i e n c e - f i c t i o n imaginings. They did not seem to o f f e r a reasonable way to expiate my g u i l t . Like the running stream, my l i f e just seemed to keep on moving. The answer came i n that inexplicable numinous experience when the transcendent "Other" acted love and forgiveness upon me. I did not know what to name the experience or what to c a l l the author. In my a r t I attempted a v i s u a l i z a t i o n of the experience and Saved by Grace (Slide 13) was the r e s u l t . I t i s painted i n a rough and regressive manner. It seems to have l o s t any figure/ground resolution that had been gained to t h i s point. Nevertheless, i t i l l u s t r a t e s a turning point i n my l i f e , and subsequently i n my work. In an analysis of the work, i t i s in t e r e s t i n g to note that the figure, rendered f l e s h - l i k e and s o l i d on the f i g h t side, i s clutching a protruding p h a l l i c shape that emanates from the box containing the interlocked female/male form. This image recurs i n much of the work, such as Dream Room 1 (Slide 8). The other side 23 24 of the figure, brushed i n a more transparent manner, perhaps indicates that there has been a s p i r i t u a l awakening. The transparent side of the figure has grasped the ephemeral, elusive box containing the peaceful, i d e a l i z e d landscape. Swirling white clouds caress the figure. A duality seems to be established between f l e s h and s p i r i t . This painting was exhibited in a solo exhibition at the Bau-Xi Gallery i n 1970, and as Joan Lowndes wrote:,, " I t deserves mention as a 12 point of departure." The Search for Meaning "Reason's l a s t step i s the recognition that there are an i n f i n i t e number of things which are beyond i t . I f natural things are beyond i t , what are we to say about supernatural things?"13 I kept returning to that small church. Upon each v i s i t I was continually moved by feelings which I can only c a l l love. Between v i s i t s , I attempted to make some sense of the experiences I was having by reading the Bible, as well as other mystical and metaphysical writings. After about a month or so of enquiry, I could reasonably i d e n t i f y the author of those experiences. I concluded that i t was the Holy S p i r i t who, t h e o l o g i c a l l y speaking, enables or activates f a i t h 25 i n such a way that Jesus i s seen and related to as the incarnate God, the Christ . Pascal i n his Pensees expresses the paradox of the seeking p i l g r i m hoping for an answer from a s i l e n t universe when he states, "The eternal silence of those i n f i n i t e spaces f i l l s me with dread. Be comforted; i t i s not from yourself that you must expect i t , but on the contrary, you must expect i t by expecting nothing 14 from yourself." In searching, I was found. The universe, though s i l e n t , had meaning, a meaning given by that which c a l l e d i t into being. For me, l i f e now became as absolute as death. I was created "a new creature", I saw with new eyes, heard with new ears, and touched with new hands. It was with a great sense of freedom and joy that I went through the next month or so, and then the r e a l i t y of 2 7 years of intensive behavioral conditioning made i t s e l f f e l t . B i b l i c a l truths now came to l i f e i n the r e a l world for me. I was a new creature, loved and forgiven, but as well, I had the old, carnal, u n s p i r i t u a l man s t i l l l i v i n g within me. This truth and the process of that truth became evident when I returned to my art. 26 A Purge The black, sexually s i n i s t e r airbrush paintings (Slide 15), painted during the period during which I analyzed and re f l e c t e d on the s p i r i t u a l experiences I was having seem now to be connected to two sources. F i r s t , I believe they were a f i n a l purging of that singular dark image of death and ali e n a t i o n that resided i n me, and i n that sense they seem now to have been therapeutic. Second, much of the "street teaching" of the young Christians I was associated with during that time was apocalyptic. With a negative and admittedly naive world view, such h o r r i f i c images of the end times, such as those i n the airbrush drawings, p a r t i c u l a r l y the P h a l l i c Locust on the extreme l e f t side of s l i d e 15, seem contrary to the s p i r i t u a l d i r e c t i o n I was going. At the same time as I was producing the airbrush drawings, I was also working on a series of silkscreen p r i n t s (Slide 16). The black airbrush and silkscreen s t y l e s seemed diametrically opposed. I t was evident that things had come apart. Whereas the airbrush works are almost completely concerned with superimposition of anatomical parts i n a nightmarish black void, the screen p r i n t s seem given over to formal s e n s i b i l i t i e s 27 verging on pure design concerns. Furthermore, the p r i n t s i l l u s t r a t e an attitude to landscape that to t h i s time had only been used as a compositional device to hold or activate the figures on the canvas; or to act as a symbolic reference to some meaning other than the landscape i t s e l f . As a seasonal worker, I had occasion to work i n the woods planting trees, before the execution of these p r i n t s i n the F a l l of 1969, and t h i s exposed me to the sea and mountainous fjords of the coast of B.C. These pr i n t s are the re s u l t of a v i s i t back to those areas, and r e f l e c t an influence and possible d i r e c t i o n the land could give to my imagery. But t h i s d i r e c t i o n was not the one I was to take. With the formative nature of my f a i t h being apocalyptic, my motivation was not to be the hardedge, i d e a l i s t i c landscapes, pointed at i n the p r i n t s , but rather the condition of man's soul and i t s need to be saved. A l l t h i s was generated from the theology I was assimilating. My painting became not only a way of expressing myself, but also a dida c t i c t o o l , incorporating as content, b i b l i c a l concepts with a s p e c i f i c a l l y C h r i s t i a n motif. In late August, 1970 I had a solo exhibition at the Bau-Xi Gallery. By th i s time, I had quit my 28 part-time job and was now f u l l y employed with a landscape maintenance firm. I also had moved out of my studio and was l i v i n g i n a basement suite. However, a l l the work i n t h i s e xhibition had been completed i n the studio amidst a transient group of young people who could fluctuate between four and 12 a night. The work i n t h i s show was varied i n both the media used, and the form the content took. As well as large a c r y l i c paintings (Slides 13 & 14), there were small watercolors, and medium size airbrush drawings (Slide 18) that s t i l l seemed to contain sexual references despite the attempt at statements of Christian r e b i r t h . The large a c r y l i c Burden of Dhuma (Slide 17) i l l u s t r a t e s a synthesis of figure/ground relationships, not achieved i n the work Ask (Slide 14). There i s no attempt to involve the surface of the canvas i n an ambiguous way with airbrushed shapes. Rather, the picture plane has become clear, and though ambiguity exists i n the band of yellow across the desolate horizon, i t i s peripheral to the focus of the painting. Unlike the e a r l i e r works, such as In (Slide 10), where the figure resides within the ambiguous space, the Burden of Dhuma's sunrise or sunset i s de-emphasized and becomes a consideration only a f t e r the action of the figure/snake i s experienced and understood. 29 The show was reviewed by Joan Lowndes and Richard Simmons, who both concluded that I was s t a r t i n g again i n a new way. In Simmons' own words, Stanbridge was "at the beginning again because the old forms cannot 15 express the new inquiry." This exhibition marked the f i n a l abandonment of my past concerns with figure/ ground relationships, and with e x i s t e n t i a l and sexually oriented content. I f e l t I now had to evolve a v i s u a l and p l a s t i c expression that was i n t e g r a l to my new Ch r i s t i a n f a i t h . Airbrush Drawings I t was after the solo show at the Bau-Xi, and while l i v i n g in the basement suite, that I started producing airbrush drawings on paper. At the same time, I continued working on smaller o i l paintings, such as The Price (Slide 19). This p a r t i c u l a r painting demonstrates the tentative, frustrated type of p l a s t i c inquiry I was going through. I was working at a p h y s i c a l l y demanding job as a landscape gardener, and I had l i t t l e time or energy l e f t over for painting, e s p e c i a l l y painting that was i n i t s formative stage. Consequently, I f e e l that nearly a l l of the o i l paintings from t h i s era (Slides 19, 26, 27), as well as 30 the following three years, were obvious f a i l u r e s , and they have a l l been destroyed. The airbrush work, on the other hand, was a more successful inquiry into a form that matched my intentions. The r e s t r i c t i v e spaces i n which I was l i v i n g and painting made the modular type of format p r a c t i c a l . Moreover, Ken P r i e s t l e y , a prominent picture framer and f r i e n d , was always amenable to unorthodox ways of displaying images. I t was the pre-OPEC era, and the r e l a t i v e cheapness and a v a i l a b i l i t y of p l a s t i c s were evoking from a r t i s t s a wide variety of v i s u a l responses. Audrey Capel Doray's F a l l i n g Woman, of 1 9 6 8 , 1 6 i s a good example of this influence, and i t was i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n I started to move. The three large airbrush works (Slides 2 0 , 2 1 , 22) were f i r s t exhibited i n a group show c a l l e d the Mythadromas at the Avelles Gallery i n 1 9 7 2 . Joan Lowndes commented on the large 8 ' x 4 ' T-shaped work Out of My B e l l y (Slide 20) as being "the v i s i o n of a 17 mystic, but with f u l l a r t i s t i c control", and much of the work i n general as having "great r e l i g i o u s 18 i n t e n s i t y . " I t appeared then that I was f u l f i l l i n g the two major c r i t e r i a for a work of art i n the secular world; that being a form and content that communicates 31 to a l l men. Form and content i n these works appear integrated as the color, shape and the texture of the paintings works to both complement and expand the content: the image of Ch r i s t . Furthermore, the use of popular techniques such as a i r brush, the modular structure, and shaped format, work to separate the paintings from t r a d i t i o n a l and sacred methods of depicting the idea of Christ the Man/God. This new form, the airbrushed modular figure, seemed suitable to the new d i r e c t i o n I should take. As well, I was receiving very p o s i t i v e reactions from my public. Indeed, i t was on the strength of these three works i n the Mythodromas show that Jytte A l l e n , an agressive art dealer, persuaded me to become one of her growing stable of a r t i s t s . 32 CHAPTER III CHANGES It was at t h i s c r u c i a l period i n the development of my painting that i n a matter of a few months I married, enrolled at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia with the intention of becoming an art teacher, and secured a po s i t i o n as a house parent for transient youths. The e f f e c t of my marriage on my outlook s o c i a l l y , s p i r i t u a l l y , and a e s t h e t i c a l l y , can only be described as p o s i t i v e . My wife i s an a r t i s t as well, and t h i s made f o r not only a compatible relationship of shared interests but also kept me at that time persevering i n a r t . While studying to become an art teacher I was only able to take one studio and one art history course. Furthermore, I had to take numerous English courses as that was to be my second area. I t seems conceivable on r e f l e c t i n g on th i s period that my attitude to l i t e r a r y concepts as translated into v i s u a l form went through considerable growth. This move l e f t l i t t l e time to pursue the f r u i t f u l looking d i r e c t i o n that the large airbrush assemblages (Slides 21, 22, 23) indicated. 33 S p i r i t u a l , e t h i c a l and moral attitudes that were evolving i n my C h r i s t i a n experience caused me to see my painting i n a new perspective. Primarily, i t ceased to be an end i n i t s e l f as i t had been i n the past. The ultimate demand of my painting on my time and energy became secondary to my relationship with God and my new found love for mankind. As well, the demand allowed me to evaluate the self-centered, so-called creative ideals I had developed at art school. These concepts, such as "your work at a l l costs," "your art must come before family, friends," paled i n the l i g h t of Christ's sayings. "Lest you love me more than Mother, Father and Brother, you are not worthy of me." Jesus Christ and His teachings now replaced art as the ultimate goal, authority and experience, and definer of truth and r e l a t i o n s h i p s . From t h i s I saw i n myself the necessity for my character and personality to go through a long period of redemptive transformation. Part of the transformation I perceived, could be f a c i l i t a t e d by working with those l e s s fortunate than I. This desire was i n part the impetus that led me to work i n transient group homes, and to consider the teaching profession as a vocation. Nevertheless, while attending university, I continued to paint. I resumed work with the airbrush 34 (Slides 23-25) and also attempted some large o i l paintings (Slides 26-27). The o i l paintings were heavy-handed attempts to i l l u s t r a t e my f a i t h . Done i n a variety of sty l e s , sometimes using two or more painterly conventions i n one canvas, these paintings show the f r u s t r a t i n g struggle I was having i n evolving an image and a format capable of expressing my new s e l f . For example, No More (Slide 26), i s overwrought with blatant symbolism, an unsuccessful attempt at an E l Greco sky, and a l i t t l e "pop art" thrown i n with white o u t l i n e s . It i s a painting f u l l of conventions that i n t h e i r juxtapositioning, approach the bizarre; a s i l v e r sprayed cross stands g l i s t e n i n g over a cross section view of an empty grave with blood soaked clothes. In r e f l e c t i n g on t h i s work i t seems that I was t r y i n g to incorporate as much Chr i s t i a n symbolism as I could into the canvas. Consequently, the narrative aspect of the painting i s lessened because of the contrasting styles and t h i s leads to an unintentional, almost gross, parody of the very concepts I was t r y i n g to communicate. In sharp contrast to the large o i l s , the airbrushes, though not as successful as the e a r l i e r large works, seem to be working towards some form of resolution, i n d i c a t i n g a kind of soft cubism 35 (Slides 23-25). They too suffer from an image and a message that i s too e a s i l y read. The images, (especially the Christ figures) seem to have l o s t the mystical power they attained i n the larger work. This, I believe, was due to the scale of the smaller works, and the framed-in image, whereas the larger pieces expand and move across the wall as i n Forgive Them (Slide 22), implying a greater unseen drama. The smaller works, crimped i n t h e i r frames, remain unthreatening and perhaps even a l i t t l e too i l l u s t r a t i v e . Greater than Jonah (Slide 25) makes t h i s point, as one i s drawn into the work by the c i r c l e focus, rather than the obtrusive work i n Forgive Them. Bread, Thorns and Rocks I t i s i n part due to both my nature, and my art school t r a i n i n g that I approached the act of painting i n a r e l a t i v e l y unsystematic way. Brought up as a neophyte on Picasso's dictum, "If you know exactly what 19 you're going to do, what's the point of doing i t ? " , the preplanning of an art work was never a primary consideration. Rather, the images, forms, and colors evolved from an experience i n nature, perhaps related to an i n s p i r a t i o n a l l i t e r a r y idea, such as, i n my early 36 work, I found i n Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers. More often, such images grew out of work already i n progress. This method of r e a l i z i n g a cogent v i s u a l statement was fine when my work was evolving from an established base, and I was mature and confident enough with the tools and a b i l i t i e s I had. Starting from square one again did not allow such p o s i t i v e luxury. It was during the F a l l of 1973 that I decided to hoard what l i t t l e time I had. I made an i n t e l l e c t u a l decision to l i m i t myself to only three images, and even then, l i m i t them to certai n formats. I wanted to represent i n my work three fundamental aspects of my f a i t h as I l i v e d i t . F i r s t , I would represent or symbolize the substance of my f a i t h with Bread images. Second, I would use Rocks to symbolize the foundation of my f a i t h . Third, I used Thorns to represent the passion of my f a i t h . This was done i n an attempt to c l a r i f y and d i r e c t me into v i s u a l images that would be worthy of the s p i r i t u a l experience they represented. I did not intend the images to become sacred and i n that sense iconographic. Rather I desired to express through the Bread, Rock and Thorn images my reaction as a twentieth century man to God and the World. Furthermore, I did not look to t r a d i t i o n a l C h r i s t i a n orthodoxy, whether dogma or sacred ar t , for a guide to my choice of imagery. Instead I 37 depended on a personal interpretation of the Bible and from that developed a perspective on what i t means to be a C h r i s t i a n and an a r t i s t , and the subsequent r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s that arise from such a perspective. In l i m i t i n g the images to bread, rocks and thorns, I also gained control of my tendency towards a crowded and s u r r e a l i s t i c picture plane. I intended the paintings to be focussed on a singular image, and that image rendered with s i g n i f i c a n t d e t a i l . The ground i n which the image existed was to be clear and unobtrusive. Manna from Heaven and Cosmic Bread (Slides 2 9 & 30) demonstrate t h i s cutting away of the unnecessary, and focussing on the s p e c i f i c image. Manna from Heaven (Slide 29) was one of a series of small format oil-on-canvas paintings that I f e l t were in t e g r a l steps leading to the l a t e r and larger a c r y l i c paintings of which Cosmic Bread (Slide 30) i s an example. The s i m p l i c i t y of the composition and paint handling, the lack of complex color and textural relationships, enabled me to achieve two important things that were s i g n i f i c a n t i n maintaining my motivation. F i r s t , I could approach the canvas with a minimum amount of problem solving ahead of me, allowing me to spend a generous proportion of the meager time I had for art, actually painting my ideas. As I 38 mentioned previously, much of my work i s inspired from l i t e r a r y sources. For example, upon reading a p a r t i c u l a r B i b l i c a l passage the picture i s formed i n the mind; colors and relationships, images i n harmony and c o n f l i c t . A c o r o l l a r y i s seen i n everyday l i f e . Bread i s broken to be eaten so as to sustain us. The Son of Man i s broken on the cross and becomes the bread, the Manna from Heaven. We who are l i k e cold dead stones consume t h i s and spring to l i f e . To give t h i s v i s i o n form, to f l e s h i t i n with paint and give i t t a n g i b i l i t y i s most rewarding. Second, I was able to complete the paintings, and as the work evolved from idea to idea and canvas to canvas, a progress and evolution, however slow, could be observed. Designing the conceptual and p l a s t i c aspects of my work to s u i t the amount of time available for execution was absolutely necessary to maintain consistency and achieve s i g n i f i c a n t depth or meaning. So i t was, i n the act of painting, and i n the reward of that act, the fin i s h e d art work, that I found reason and motivation to continue. A noteworthy influence on my imagery arose from setting myself up i n such a way. Because of the time demands and, i n part, my gregarious nature, there was a tendency towards gesture and the quick sketch. This tendency manifested i t s e l f i n the large p e n c i l drawings 39 of thorns (Slides 31 & 32) , as well as i n the airbrush paintings that grew out of that graphic inquiry. These images, the thorns i n pencil and airbrush (Slides 33-35), seem to foreshadow a d i r e c t i o n that I was to take i n the near future. It would not be the r i g i d , almost ascetic bread paintings that would lead me to resolution or discovery. This i s due to a number of reasons, but the most important i s that the method I had constructed i n the long term was not compatible with my personality. Though I benefited from the d i s c i p l i n e and control that I had to exert i n the bread paintings, i t was i n the more expressive and g e s t i c u l a t i n g works (Slides 33-35) that I found freedom of expression. I t was i n these works, I believe, that the image became les s surreal and more painterly, resurrecting the more p o s i t i v e influences of Bacon and de Kooning. A Short Tangent It was during the summer months of 1973 that. I took a tangent that was generated from an experience I had while teaching Arts & Crafts workshops for the Vancouver Art Gallery's S a t e l l i t e program. One day I noticed a pencil l y i n g on a windowsill; sharpened at 40 both ends. It struck me as absurdly funny. What would an anthropologist from another world think of such a tool? From t h i s experience I produced a series of small paintings (Slides 36-38). Furthermore; while our workshops were on d i f f e r e n t locations, I would create paintings of pencils of every size, shape and form, from a 20 foot yellow eagle painted on the pavement of a parking l o t , to the pencil snake painted on paper (Slide 37). I mention t h i s because I f e e l the idea shows an e c l e c t i c attitude i n the gathering of v i s u a l ideas as well as i n the manner of transforming them into paintings. These tangents may or may not enhance the general evolution of my own work. One thing they do cause i s a decrease i n the amount of time I have to spend working on those pieces that I consider more important. On the p o s i t i v e side, these adventures could r e s u l t i n creative breakthroughs, l i b e r a t i n g an a r t i s t who has become a slave to his own s t y l e . This idea w i l l be further explained i n a l a t e r chapter. A Change of Place Upon graduating from UBC, I obtained a p o s i t i o n i n V i c t o r i a at a community school teaching Art and English 41 at the grade 10, 11, and 12 l e v e l . I t was during the period when I was just becoming involved i n the gestural airbrush work that I moved my studio and my family to Vancouver Island. We had a c h i l d of two by t h i s time. Setting up house and preparing for my f i r s t f u l l - t i m e teaching job took up most of that summer, so i t was not u n t i l midway through the year that I started to work i n my studio. I decided then to pursue the rock and bread theme (Slides 3 9 & 4 0) i n some small a c r y l i c s on paper. I continued to explore the expressive gestural thorn idea, only instead of employing an airbrush, I opted for charcoal. I gained a modicum of success with both, but neither took me a step closer to deciding which d i r e c t i o n I should choose. A r e f i n i n g and tightening up of execution, as i n the bread and rock images was taking place, and i t seemed contrary to the d i r e c t i o n I was taking with the thorn images. A synthesis was needed. How I was to achieve t h i s synthesis proved a most unexpected, though pleasant surprise. Synthesis by Serendipity In the Spring of 1975 I exhibited the thorns 42 (Slides 31-35), and the rock and bread drawings and paintings (Slides 39 & 40) at the G a l l e r i e A l l e n . It was a disappointing show: no reviews, and few sales. Realizing the lack of consistency i n my work, I struck out i n another path to purge myself of what I thought were d i s t r a c t i n g elements i n my ar t . I decided to eliminate the expressive, gestural work, and pursue the more s u r r e a l i s t i c imagery found i n my bread and rock paintings. I decided that perhaps I could enhance these paintings by incorporating the f i g u r e . However, with the figure came complex, compositional and content problems, as can be seen i n the small a c r y l i c , Take (Slide 41). I could sense the same type of s i t u a t i o n evolving that had generated those early awkward symbolic works, of which, No More and Oh Jerusalem (Slides 26 & 27) are good examples. With Eunuch's Dream (Slide 43), t h i s tightening up of technique can be observed, even though the s l i d e shows the work i n an unfinished state. I did f i n i s h t h i s work, but i t was l a t e r painted over. The work that followed was a large a c r y l i c of two figures looking out of vegetation; an Adam and Eve (Slide 44). As I progressed through t h i s painting I experienced a growing sense of f r u s t r a t i o n . I f e l t disconnected to the images of leaves and branches. The content i t s e l f seemed t r i t e i n t h i s 43 form. Whereas the bread and rock paintings avoided the p i t f a l l of being too i l l u s t r a t i v e , t h i s work by employing the figures seemed destined to that end. I stood back, looked at the overworked leaves and s t i f f l i f e l e s s f l e s h I had been painting, walked over to my palette, mixed up large gobs of color, and attacked the canvas. My arm, instead of being merely a transmitter of impulses for small i n t r i c a t e movements to my fingers, was now the mover, as i t gestured to and over the canvas. I t had happened: "synthesis by serendipity." I t seemed pure therapy i n the beginning, but as I continued, the form of the figures i n the composition could s t i l l be seen, the structure was maintained. In fact, the figures now appeared integrated, with the picture plane, and not only emerged from the vegetation, implied by the brush work, but merged and re-emerged from the actual p l a s t i c surface of the painting. In an attempt to focus the figures, the brush strokes were defined with black o u t l i n i n g here and there. Another joy was discovered as gestures and brush strokes were re-experienced, as my brush delineated and emphasized those dribbles, haphazard shapes and colors that would not only enhance the form, but make the content subtler as well. 44 This painting, t i t l e d Come Forth, (Slide 44) was what I f e e l a l l the previous years' work had led to. It was a culmination of those many years of struggling to f i n d myself, as well as to f i n d the appropriate way of expressing that s e l f . I t was also a r e b i r t h that arrived a f t e r years of hard, f r u s t r a t i n g work, and of more f a i l u r e than success. In one work i t seemed as i f everything had f a l l e n into place, that I had found my s t y l e . I began painting intensely and through the summer of 1976 and the following years, produced a s u f f i c i e n t number of canvases and a c r y l i c s on paper (Slides 44-47) to have a large show of 40 works at Open Space Gallery i n V i c t o r i a i n the Spring of 1978. I was confident at t h i s time that the style I had acquired would evolve on i t s own accord, as one painting would grow out of the next, where concepts and images hinted at i n one work would become a focus i n the next. It seemed that my new found style was well suited to the amount of time l e f t a f t e r the demands of teaching art f u l l time had been met. 45 CHAPTER IV THE ARTIST IN SCHOOL In t h i s chapter I w i l l be r e f l e c t i n g on those forces and influences that most s i g n i f i c a n t l y a f f e c t the a r t i s t who teaches. These could best be described under two general categories: the teaching environment; and the nature, or character and personality, of the a r t i s t . I t i s not my intention to do either a s o c i o l o g i c a l analysis of the school system, or a psychological p o r t r a i t of the a r t i s t , but rather to r e f l e c t on how as one arti s t / t e a c h e r I maintain an active and productive l i f e as an a r t i s t while teaching f u l l time. I t i s obvious that my teaching s i t u a t i o n i s unique, as indeed everyone's i s ; nevertheless, there are constants i n the education system, whether i n V i c t o r i a or Dawson Creek. This i s also true of the ind i v i d u a l artist/teacher, regardless of the school. As a r t i s t s , teachers, and c i t i z e n s working within the education system, we share many common concerns; Perhaps the most obvious i s our b e l i e f that art, as a creative process, must be recognized as a worthwhile endeavor and enriching a c t i v i t y for every human being. 46 I believe t h i s idea i s universal among art teachers; yet, i n the l i g h t of that statement, there remain only a few teachers who are able to continue to pursue the very philosophy they propose. The r e f l e c t i o n s that follow w i l l i l l u s t r a t e how I see myself i n the education system and what I am doing about my a r t i s t i c s urvival i n i t . Generally speaking, high schools are considered conservative i n s t i t u t i o n s , and the one where I teach art i s no exception, even though i t has a d i s t r i c t , i f not province-wide reputation of being progressive. The stereotyped image of a secondary school i s a place where students are expected to behave l i k e adults and treated l i k e children. Control i s administered by P.A. systems and memos. Movement i s controlled by large white-faced clocks and Pavlovian b e l l s . Herd mentality arid conformity are reinforced by "Pep R a l l i e s " and "School S p i r i t Days". Nevertheless the High School philosophy written up i n the s t a f f handbook usually proclaims as i t s highest educational objective the rights of the i n d i v i d u a l as a learner and a prospective c i t i z e n . In r e a l i t y , our schools are nothing more than a mirror r e f l e c t i o n of the society they serve. Though the r e f l e c t e d image i s softened, at l e a s t for the 4 7 student, i t i s sharply focused on the teacher, who must answer to the demands of the i d e a l i s t i c and at times unreasonable expectations of a society that wants the school to solve problems that no one else can. The parent taxpayer asks: Isn't that why we are paying teachers so much? Like a l l teachers, the teacher of art i s subject to t h i s pressure both i n the media, and i n his community. I t can wear one down. Within the student body and i n the faculty i t s e l f i s r e f l e c t e d the d i v e r s i t y of philosophic p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l and r e l i g i o u s values and perceptions found i n the community the school serves. To t h i s mosaic the arti s t / t e a c h e r adds his small bohemian t i l e . Indeed, the art i s t / t e a c h e r i s expected to f i l l that r o l e , i n his actions and attitudes. With the exception of a few a r t i s t s who have become established and successful, the arti s t / t e a c h e r i s much l i k e his counterpart i n the larger society. Though tolerated, the a r t i s t i s teased and chided that he w i l l have to die before his work w i l l be found worthwhile. Likewise the status of art remains a poor cousin i n the curriculum, tolerated, but misunderstood. I t i s therefore a f a m i l i a r niche the arti s t / t e a c h e r finds for himself whether i n personal rela t i o n s h i p to other s t a f f members or i n the r e l a t i o n of his d i s c i p l i n e to the rest of the school's 48 curriculum. Surviving the System In my discussions with other art teachers, about what i t i s to be an a r t i s t and to teach, I found that many, at the time, did not consider themselves a r t i s t s . Most expressed a desire to do art, but complained of teacher "burn-out", lack of time and sundry commitments that kept them from establishing t h e i r art-making i n any sort of consistent manner. As I r e f l e c t on my own, as well as t h e i r professed reasons for being unable to sustain work habits and art output, I must concede that teaching i s a consuming occupation. Teaching i s very s t r e s s f u l , and many teachers need the summer holidays to recoup energies that w i l l allow them to be v i t a l when they return to work i n the F a l l . The question i s what i s the most p r o f i t a b l e way to regain v i t a l i t y . Some artist/teachers f i n d that t r a v e l , or working i n a job that i s s p e c i f i c a l l y adult-oriented i s h elpful i n renewing t h e i r energy. Others f e e l summer months are only for l e i s u r e and recreation. Few, i t seems, have the attitude that the summer months are a time to es t a b l i s h momentum i n the making of th e i r art, and of these many require a summer school course to 49 get them going. I personally believe the rewards obtained by having completed a painting, and observed an evolution i n the work I do, w i l l motivate me to continue well into the school year. For me, summer of f e r s that uninterrupted time for concentrated painting. It i s a time for work that includes i n i t s method a time of contemplation, a boon that i s hard to come by when teaching f u l l time. I t then seems l o g i c a l that i f summer i s the longest sustained non-contact time with the school system, and i f one i s serious about being an a r t i s t , that the designing of a self-motivating component into that p a r t i c u l a r time i s paramount to both the evolution and existence of an a r t i s t . In an e f f o r t to accomplish t h i s momentum I have been developing over the years a sty l e of painting that i s able to be re a l i z e d i n a successful way, given the amount of time I have on hand for the task. From experience I have been learning, i n many cases the hard way, to avoid large, complex projects. Concepts that need extensive inquiry, and sustained technical development to reach resolution, I avoid. A s i l k screen p r i n t I pulled l a s t summer i s a prime example. Not only did i t eat into precious time f o r painting due la r g e l y to my lack of expertise with the medium, but 50 the rewards gained from the completed image were n e g l i g i b l e . I t did not r e a l l y lead me anywhere and i f anything i t slowed the momentum I was building up i n my painting. Great Expectations The job description of an a r t teacher goes far beyond that of the d i s c i p l i n e , or body of knowledge, and technical s k i l l s needed i n the studio s i t u a t i o n . The art teacher, at l e a s t i n my school, and I don't expect i t i s a unique si t u a t i o n , i s expected to keep close l i a i s o n between the students i n his Teacher Advisor group, the students' various subject teachers, and t h e i r parents. The a r t i s t / t e a c h e r i s expected to work at f i r s t l i n e counselling, developing each ind i v i d u a l student's program, and ensuring that the proper courses are taken which w i l l enable the student to graduate. As well as t h i s counselling and c l e r i c a l type of work the art i s t / t e a c h e r must act as a "Buyer and Merchant". With budgets i n the area of thousands of d o l l a r s , the art i s t / t e a c h e r must yearly define s p e c i f i c materials and supplies for the curriculum. A knowledge of the q u a l i t y of products for everything from k i l n s to paint brushes i s expected as well as of 51 who the best and cheapest suppliers are. Another expectation of the artist/teacher i s the p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n , and contribution to, school "tone". This includes, being subject to and p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n s i l l y and outrageous a c t i v i t i e s ; such as being the target i n a pie throwing contest. This i s a l l done i n the name of better teacher/student r e l a t i o n s and school s p i r i t . Most schools need funds for extracurricular a c t i v i t i e s . Artist/teachers are expected to do t h e i r share i n events designed to raise money for the school. In an active school, an artist/teacher may also be expected to sponsor a club or coach a team. A l l these a c t i v i t i e s take time, and more often than not that time comes a f t e r the regular school day i s fini s h e d . It i s no wonder that with so many d i f f e r e n t expectations the teacher can f e e l himself spread very t h i n l y and not very much l i k e the concentrated s e n s i t i v e l y intense and focused i n d i v i d u a l that an a r t i s t should be. Temptations Art teachers, generally speaking, have access to well equipped studios and though i t i s t h e i r place of employment, and the equipment and f a c i l i t y are meant primarily for student use, there s t i l l remain times, 52 such as spares, lunch hours and evenings when a photo/stencil can be made, a pot thrown, or a p r i n t developed. The studio I teach i n i s well equipped with a dark room, complete with color equipment, k i l n s , high q u a l i t y wheels, vacuum tables, arc lamps, etching presses, airbrushes and Raku f i r i n g f a c i l i t i e s . In my case i t would be d i f f i c u l t to f i n d such equipment to work with. I c e r t a i n l y could not afford to set up such a studio, and there are not the co-operative studios, 20 such as the "Dunderave Prin t Workshop", i n V i c t o r i a . I f e e l the a r t i s t / t e a c h e r i s lucky to have a place that enables ongoing creative inquiry r e l a t i n g to teaching as well as the production of a r t . But the a r t i s t / teacher i s also subject to what I f e e l i s a temptation to master every area. For example, i n the i n s t r u c t i o n of ceramics I was considerably weak, but the more I taught the subject, the further I became fascinated by i t . Clay work, i n p a r t i c u l a r Raku, subsequently became my hobby. I t was an art form I could involve myself i n ; i t was both therapeutic and rewarding without having any c r i t i c a l or philosophical baggage attached to i t s making. The Raku process d i d not demand from me a meaningful intention that had i t s roots deep set i n my psyche l i k e my painting did. Nevertheless i t i s the nature of Raku that i t i s purposive, and I can see that 53 I am not going to be able to treat i t as a mere hobby forever. Even now I can see i t evolving into a more complex p l a s t i c enquiry that demands more c r i t i c a l awareness. What started out as a joyous a c t i v i t y done in classroom demonstrations i s getting to the point where I am s t a r t i n g to demand of my clay work forms and s k i l l commensurate with my growing knowledge of the c r a f t . This necessitates the spending of more time doing what was once a therapeutic hobby with the r e s u l t that achieving proficiency i n either area i s l i m i t e d by the amount of available time for the work. One can look at t h i s phenomenon as a blessing or a curse, or both. I f , for example, an a r t i s t i s the type that gets i n a rut, and ends up repeating his successes with no ongoing inquiry, i t could be just the catalyst to push him out of his rut and onto a new track. On the other hand i t could become a curse bouncing him around from one novel experience to another, giving l o t s of breadth but l i t t l e depth, never l e t t i n g him focus i n and re f i n e , expand, or exhaust a p a r t i c u l a r p o s s i b i l i t y . Part of my teaching technique i s to follow through from demonstration to completion many of the projects I propose. I t was just such a response to one demonstration, (on the a r t of assemblage) that I was 54 inspired or perhaps even seduced by the v i s u a l l y e x c i t i n g , and humorous, p o s s i b i l i t i e s of things attached to, or f l o a t i n g on a two dimensional plane. I f i n d that when I research the l i t e r a t u r e , s l i d e s and examples on a subject such as Assemblage, I am inva r i a b l y tempted to translate the media and method into my own v i s u a l expression. Though the temptation never usually goes beyond the demonstration example I produce, there have been occasions when the time was ri p e , and the influence too strong to r e s i s t . The assemblages I produced i n 1979 are a perfect i l l u s t r a t i o n of t h i s point. After the solo show at Open Space i n the Spring 1978 my images began to s t i f f e n up again. I f e l t cramped and unable to achieve the spontaneity that my work was dependent on. One can observe sequentially, from the i n i t i a l painting Come Forth (Slide 44) to Nathanial's Tree (Slide 46) a d e f i n i t e refinement leading to less and less expressionistic paint handling. As well the composition becomes more formal and totemic, the figures end up centered on large f i e l d s of color with only a s l i g h t i n d i c a t i o n of brush work. The culmination of t h i s movement can be seen i n the painting Dove Son (Slide 48) where there i s l i t t l e or no i n d i c a t i o n of expressive brush work. The painterly expressive 55 gestures i n t h i s work have given way to dead and conventional squiggles. However, i t was a t r a n s i t i o n a l painting that led to the assemblage Son Rise (Slide 4 9). At a weak moment I was swayed by the stimulation of an ex c i t i n g lesson i n c l a s s . This, coupled with the aforementioned problems i n my own work, and a mind that i s subject to t h i s type of inquiry, made the jump to assemblage both l o g i c a l and a t t r a c t i v e . As well, i t was for me a time to do some lighthearted, humorous art, poking fun not only at myself and my own work as i n Red Brush (Slide 5 0) but also at ce r t a i n modern art conventions as found i n Yellow, Red, Blue, (Slide 51). I had a productive and f u l f i l l i n g time exploring the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of surface and i l l u s i o n , of breaking out from the conventions that had come to bind me. I became an enthusiastic advocate of assemblage as a method of v i s u a l a r t i c u l a t i o n . This l i b e r a t i o n enabled me to feed back into the classroom s i t u a t i o n many of the new discoveries I had experienced. 56 CHAPTER V RECLAMATION The journal to t h i s point has r e f l e c t i v e l y dwelt on two major concerns that lead up to and are relevant to the studio part of t h i s thesis as represented by Slides 53-54, 56-57, 59-66. The primary concern dealt with my personal survival as an a r t i s t , i n t e l l e c t u a l l y , s o c i a l l y , s p i r i t u a l l y , economically, but e s s e n t i a l l y as an a r t i s t . The second concern, related to the f i r s t , was the idea of evolution i n my work: that i s , how does the imagery change i n accordance with physical, i n t e l l e c t u a l , or s p i r i t u a l states of consciousness? These two concerns became acutely focused when, afte r two years of struggling academically, I found myself i n the studio again. I t was l i k e standing on the edge of thin i c e . The studio i s a dangerous place, every blank canvas posing the same question: Where to start? I was interested i n inquiring further into some s i l k screen techniques I had been working on at school (Slide 53). I had prepared a number of medium size canvases. They made me f e e l even more intimidated and uptight. This, coupled with the prospect of a show at the end of a short few months of studio work, with the 57 expectation to produce mature resolved paintings, was almost enough to d e b i l i t a t e me. One thing I was sure of: I did not want to work i n assemblage. I decided to st a r t on some graphite drawing and see where that would lead me. Notwithstanding the witness of l i v i n g men, the idea of my f a i t h ' s being founded on the testament of a few fragments of parchment from the past moved me to consider the Logos;, the word became f l e s h . I began defining surface areas around prose I had written, and appropriate scripture from the Bible. The technique i s not unlike that which I employed i n the bread drawings of 1974. (Slide 55) , Indeed, i t was as i f I had taken the crust from one of those drawings and stretched i t f l a t with the two edges of the crust becoming the worn, ragged extremity of the ancient s c r o l l . From the idea of the word becoming f l e s h , and the success I was having i n the drawings, I embarked on some large gestural word/letter paintings i n the style I had used previous to the assemblage tangent. I f e l t unconnected to the imagery, going through technical motions that I had resolved i n the previous work. Whereas my intention seemed f u l f i l l e d i n the drawings, the forms and content r e f l e c t e d my i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional conviction. The paintings, on the other 58 hand, seemed a travesty of just those things. At the time I was reading Nikos Kazantzakis' novel The Last Temptation of Christ . His ideas, so sensually e x p l i c i t , imaginatively conjured up the s p i r i t u a l struggle among man, God and the Adversary. Kazantzakis defined the s p i r i t u a l a b i l i t y to transform the descriptive and the narrative into a powerful metaphor. I was inspired to generate my painting from a source other than my drawings. I decided to work from photographs that I had taken of body builders who were posed i n wrestling positions. From th i s source I started doing sketches and working on ideas for paintings. As well, I destroyed a l l the word/letter paintings, except David's S c r o l l (Slide 57). David's S c r o l l was saved because i t represents, I f e e l , a t r a n s i t i o n a l stage between the painting The Mocking (Slide 58), which was done just p r i o r to the assemblages, and the inquiry into the word/letter paintings; and the work I.am about to discuss. The wrestler paintings were preceded by the screen p r i n t e n t i t l e d Do Men S t i l l Wrestle AngeLs? (Slide 59). As mentioned before, i n considering the economy of my time, t h i s p r i n t set me back about a week and demonstrated to me the necessity of avoiding complex techniques with projects I have not mastered. 59 Jacob's Angel (Slide 60), the f i r s t wrestling painting I completed, did not indicate promise. It was too t i g h t l y painted and the figures appear s t i f f and l i f e l e s s . However, the emergence of the horizon i n t h i s painting proved i n t e r e s t i n g enough to warrant more work i n that d i r e c t i o n . I t was i n Jacob's Ladder's End (Slide 61) that a loosening of the brush work becomes evident, the figures, though appearing s l i g h t l y s t i f f , do not contradict the compositional intent as does Jacob's Angel, where the leg of Jacob, held by the Angel (in blue), appears to be shrunk out of proportion. Instead of becoming the fulcrum of the action, i t becomes merely a confusion of gestures. This painting w i l l probably be reworked i n an attempt to reclaim the o r i g i n a l idea. Jacob's Ladder's End (Slide 61) and Angel at Dawn (Slide 62) with t h e i r continuance of the horizon foreshadow the re-emergence of the landscape concerns that were evident i n early works such as Come Forth and Lazarus (Slides 44 & 45). The f i r s t r e a l landscape emerges near the end of my wrestler ser i e s . In fact, i t i s a figure painting without figures. Outside the Garden (Slide 64) i s about Cain and Abel, the f i r s t c o n f l i c t between men. Cain i s jealous. His s a c r i f i c e to God has not been accepted, Abel's has. Cain k i l l s 60 Abel and hides i n the f o l i a g e . God inquires! I was going to t i t l e the painting The F i r s t Murder; however I thought better of i t , as the e f f e c t of such a s p e c i f i c indicator of content would l i m i t the emotional impact of the work. The red slash on brown at the lower center of the canvas highlighted by a ragged yellow/white gesture emphasizes the focus below the darkness i n the middle of the canvas. Over the darkness are white gestures. Are they becoming words? Forming questions? Inquiring of and framed i n the darkness? I t was i n t h i s work that I sensed myself painting with confidence and authority. I t was also September and time to prepare for the return to school and the f i n i s h i n g up of my thesis proposal. However, I had some momentum now and the work was evolving at a s i g n i f i c a n t pace. The painting Outside the Garden #2 (Slide 64) that followed Outside the Garden #1 XSlide 63) shows a column of red r i s i n g from greenish brown ground as l i g h t moves across the canvas from top l e f t i n a diagonal motion. The gestures over the red v e r t i c a l that symbolizes blood, s p e l l out the name Abel. As t h i s name appears and merges never f u l l y v i s i b l e , except once, the idea of Abel's blood speaking from the earth i s achieved. The word-forms I previously had disregarded as useless 61 were re-emerging, held, i t seems to me, i n a landscape with potency and vigour. In t h i s painting the dark area to the r i g h t implies the hidden Cain; the diagonal l i g h t indicates the approaching presence of God. This growing preoccupation with l i g h t i s repeated i n the l a s t two paintings Flesh Box of My Body (Slide 65) and Outside the Garden #3 (Slide 66). In Flesh Box of My Body the l i g h t emanates from the center weaving together the two opposing images, whereas i n Outside the Garden #3 the l i g h t i s much cooler. Radiating from the l e f t , i t bounces around the canvas, highl i g h t i n g the contours and gestures of the two figures. The developing concern for l i g h t e f f e c t within these paintings can be traced to the development of the horizon i n the Wrestler Series such as Angel at Dawn (Slide 62) and Jacob's Ladder's' End (Slide 61) . This appears to be an evolving aspect of my painting that w i l l be further explored when I return to my work. 62 CHAPTER VI CONCLUSIONS It seems reasonable, a f t e r r e f l e c t i n g on the evolution of my a r t , to say that the causes of my p a r t i c u l a r image transformations f a l l into three categories: f i r s t , a change i n my philosophic perspective; second, the constant influence of my teaching career; and t h i r d , the demands of the p u b l i c . Profound and obvious s h i f t s have been effected by a r a d i c a l change i n my philosophic perspective. Here i t would be b e n e f i c i a l to d i f f e r e n t i a t e between r a d i c a l transformation and evolving resolution. For example, th i s difference can be c l e a r l y understood i f we compare the work that surrounds and includes the conversion experience, (Note s l i d e s 12, 13, 14), and the work that led up to, and proceeds from the painting Come Forth (Slide 44). The former d i f f e r e n t i a t e s i t s e l f by evolving solely from a non-art experience, whereas the l a t t e r developed as a r e s u l t of struggling with the p l a s t i c and conceptual problems of making a painting. The problem of f i t t i n g the concept into the appropriate form was an i n t e l l e c t u a l one that grew from a stable philosophic base. It would be defined as an evolving 63 resolution. In viewing the two key paintings, Saved by Grace (Slide 13) and Come Forth (Slide 44) that i l l u s t r a t e t h i s point, the more profound change would at f i r s t appear i n the l a t t e r work where the paint application, surface considerations, and the whole st y l e , changes from one painting, Eunuch's Dream (Slide 43) to the next; Come Forth. On the other hand Saved by Grace (Slide 13) and the following work Ask (Slide 14) show no sign of s t y l i s t i c change, but rather the transformation has taken place within the a r t i s t . The development of forms that would express the new content i n a meaningful way would take a long time to resolve. This i s due to the philosophic intention of the a r t i s t being transformed, leaving the style of painting void of conviction. To understand t h i s aspect of transformation chronology must be considered; i t a f f e c t s both the evolution of the art and the maturing philosophical perspective of the a r t i s t . This period of transformation covers a seven year period from Saved by Grace (Slide 13) to Eunuch's Dream (Slide 43). This period included a number of formative happenings, but as the sl i d e s i l l u s t r a t e and the text describes, the resolution of philosophic intent and a compatible p l a s t i c expression i s either never r e a l i z e d as i n the 64 o i l painting No More (Slide 26), or i f i t begins to show promise as i n the large airbrush Forgive Them (Slide 22) i t i s thwarted by the temporal demands of l i f e . I t i s no wonder, then, that the a r t i s t ' s post-conversion evolution appears to have taken many tentative directions without ever thoroughly following along one l i n e of inquiry. Furthermore, i t i s important to note that the s t y l i s t i c d i r e c t i o n eventually taken i n 1976, of which the painting Come Forth (Slide 44) i s representative, i s now afte r seven years being r e v i s i t e d . In a sense t h i s validates the l a t e r works of the same st y l e , demonstrating, as i n Outside the Garden #3 (Slide 66) the worth of a further inquiry into both the p l a s t i c problems, inherent i n the style (such as gestural paint handling) and evolved content concerns that are bound to the p a r t i c u l a r state of my philosophy. The constant e f f e c t of l i f e forces i s the second category of image transformation. I t manifests i t s e l f most notably i n the form of the job by which I earn my l i v i n g . I am a teacher of art and i t i s from within that context that I have been influenced to pursue at d i f f e r e n t times in my career a variety of modes of vi s u a l expression. The e a r l i e s t example of t h i s can be 65 seen i n the Pencil Paintings (Slides 36,37 & 38) that were inspired from teaching i n a workshop s i t u a t i o n . A l a t e r example i s the more sophisticated but none the less humorous work done i n assemblage, of which Son Rise (Slide 4 9) i s an example. These works have been discussed previously i n the text but i t would be pertinent to rais e the question as to what e f f e c t they have on my reputation i f I pursue t h i s type of e c l e c t i c i s m i n my a r t . I t i s conceivable that the work could be viewed as the unresolved inquiry of a rootless a r t i s t . Whatever the i n t r i n s i c value of the work, those are the formal q u a l i t i e s such as paint handling, scale and philosophic intent resolved within each canvas. Furthermore, a connection to the main body of work can be seen i n such works as Red Brush (Slide 50) where the s t y l i z e d brushstrokes, the scale of the works, and the surface treatment are s i m i l a r . However, i f one has such e c l e c t i c tendencies, one takes a chance at deferring or even missing a major breakthrough i n one's work. As well, the art world, marketplace and even one's contemporaries may perceive one's intentions as s u p e r f i c i a l , and the a r t i s t would sense the impact of the subsequent reactions and perhaps respond i n a manner that would not benefit either his reputation or production. Nevertheless, these creative tangents are, 66 to me, worth the r i s k . They are j u s t i f i e d i n that they allow me to be free from conventions that are atrophying, and to regain a vigorous approach to the creative process. So i t i s that when the need arises I w i l l continue to respond to those creative influences I am subject to each day that I teach a r t . I t would be b e n e f i c i a l to look at the r o l e the a r t i s t ' s public plays i n the phenomenon of image transformation. The a r t i s t ' s public can be defined as those groups or in d i v i d u a l s who p a r t i c i p a t e i n the a r t i s t ' s work by c r i t i c i z i n g , e x t o l l i n g , denying, encouraging, reviewing, viewing, r e j e c t i n g or purchasing the a r t i s t ' s work. How much influence the public exerts on the a r t i s t depends on a number of complex s o c i a l and economic variables that are beyond the scope of t h i s paper, and I w i l l only r e f l e c t on how the a r t i s t perceives and responds to his public i n his work- and how that may possibly e f f e c t transformation. I have c e r t a i n assumptions about the nature of man, and thus the public, that are rooted i n a philosophy based on C h r i s t i a n p r i n c i p l e s . I perceive man i n the B i b l i c a l sense as being f a l l e n yet redeemed and loved. From t h i s p o s i t i o n man can be seen as being i n need of encouragement and exhortation. Therefore, my 67 intention i s the expression of b i b l i c a l precepts that deal with the nature of man both -in c o n f l i c t and i n harmony with God. A good example of t h i s i s seen i n the recently completed Wrestler Series (Slides 60-62) where the ancient prototype of the aggressive and enterprising man i s seen i n Jacob (whose name means Usurper), wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. In t h i s sense my work i s d i d a c t i c as i t evolves from a given precept, i s synthesized into a contemporary and theological philosophy, and f i n a l l y i s expressed i n v i s u a l form -- as i n the painting Angel at Dawn (Slide 62). The problem of being too i l l u s t r a t i v e , which i s inherent i n did a c t i c a r t , i s evident i n much of the work from 1969 to 1976 (Slides 8-43). An example i s the airbrush painting For the World (Slide 23) where the viewer has l i t t l e time r e f l e c t i v e l y to interpret the content. I t i s a l l c l e a r l y stated so that the vi s u a l dialogue i s minimal, causing the viewer's role to be more of an endorser than that of a p a r t i c i p a n t . This problem has now been resolved. In the works Outside Garden #1 and #2 (Slides 63 & 64), the paintings are f i r s t experienced on an emotional l e v e l as the viewer responds to the color, texture, and gestures of the brush strokes. The subject matter and 68 the style have been synthesized to such a degree that they are emotionally experienced before they are i n t e l l e c t u a l l y considered, allowing the viewer to f u l l y p a r t i c i p a t e i n a v i s u a l dialogue. The intentions of the a r t i s t , structured into the painting, are allowed slowly to unfold before the viewer. The public i s considered an influence i n the transformation of an a r t i s t ' s imagery only inasmuch as the a r t i s t i s concerned that what he i s painting i s worth consideration and that with honesty and i n t e g r i t y the a r t i s t w i l l do a l l that i s needed to enable the public to enter into a dialogue with his work. Neither man, nor the world he l i v e s i n are constant; both are ever changing as they act upon and transform one another. As do a l l men, I l i v e day by day; i n one instance being the subject of change and transformation, and i n another the author. My philosophical perspective based on f a i t h i n an absolute does not remain s t a t i c as i t evolves and expands; assimilated and sometimes rejected are my personal experiences, ideologies, values and perspectives. My creative process i s thus explained not as an end i n i t s e l f , but rather as a means to an end. The s l i d e s that i l l u s t r a t e t h i s r e f l e c t i v e journal are a v i s u a l 69 record that indicate t h i s process. Though the q u a l i t y , meaning and i n t r i n s i c value i n the i n d i v i d u a l paintings are by nature debatable, they attest to those forces i n which we p a r t i c i p a t e , forces that transform and shape our l i v e s . Endnotes xLeo Tolstoy, What i s Art, "Trans.", A. Maude. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. P. 116. 2 Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers, "Trans.", Bernard Fiechtman. New York: Grove Press Inc., 1963. P. 70. 3 I b i d . , P. 70. 4 John R. MacDonald, Modern English Painters: Wood to Hockriey. London: 1974. P. 172. 5 I b i d . , P. 169. 6 I b i d . , P. 169. 7 Thomas B. Hess, de Kooning - Recent Paintings. New York: Walter and Company, 1967. P. 31. Maurice Truchman, Chaim Soutine, 18 93-194 3, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1968. P. 16. 9 Doris Shadbolt, "B.C.'s New Talent Show to Tour Canada", Canadian Art, 21, Sept./Oct., 1964. 1 0 B a r r y Lord, "Sunday Afternoon", Arts Canada, 24, Jan., 1967. Pp. 14, 15. "'""'"John Coplans, Los Angeles Six, The Vancouver Art Gallery, March 31 - May 5, 1968. 12 Joan Lowndes, "Vision Changes His Art", Vancouver Sun, 11 Oct., 1970. 13 ' Blaise Pascal, Pensees, "Trans.", H.J. Krailsheimer. London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1966. P. 85. 71 1 4 I b i d . , P. 95 15 Richard Simmons, " A r t i s t Cries Out Profoundly But Message Unconvincing", The Province, 12 Aug., 1970. •j c Michael Rhodes, "Audrey Capel Doray", Arts Canada, 25, Dec, 1968. P. 51. 17 Joan Lowndes, "An Oddly Assorted Company", Vancouver Sun, 22 Feb., 1972. Ibid. 19 Helen Parmelin, Picasso: Women, Cannes, and Mougins, 1954-1963, "Trans.", Humphrey Hare. Paris: Editions Cercle D'Art, S.A., and Amsterdam: Harry N. Abrams, 1964. P. 55. 20 The Dunderave P r i n t Workshop i s one of Vancouver's older, co-operative p r i n t studios run by and for a r t i s t s . I t provides a broad selection of large presses. I t i s presently located on Granville Island. 21 ^Logos - the word became f l e s h taken from the Greek: A o y C U or X C y i O S , i s c l e a r l y the expression of the incarnation of Christ as described i n John's Gospel (Ch 1, v . l , v.14). For the a r t i s t i n t h i s case i t also alludes to the idea of the artist,becoming tangible i n the created work (the drawing or painting). 22 Nikos Kazanzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ, "Trans.", P.A. Bien. New York: Bantam Books, 1971. 72 BIBLIOGRAPHY A r t i c l e s Lord, Barry. Sunday Afternoon. Arts Canada, 24, Jan., 1967. Pp. 14, 15. Rhodes, Michael. Audrey Capel Doray. Arts Canada, 25, D e c , 1968. P. 51. Shadbolt, Doris. B.C.'s New Talent to Tour Canada. Canadian Art, 21, Sept./Oct., 1964. P. 301. Books Genet, Jean. Our Lady of the Flowers. trans. Bernard Fiechtman. New York: Grove Press Inc., 1963. Hess, Thomas, B. de Kooning — Recent Paintings. New York: Walter and Company, 1967. Kazantzakis, Nikos. The Last Temptation of Christ, trans. P.A. Bien. New York: Bantam Books, 1971. MacDonald, John R. Modern English Painters: Wood to Hockriey. London, 1974 . Parmelin, Helen. Picasso: Women, Cannes and Mougins, 1954-19 63. trans. Humphrey Hare. Paris: Cercle D'Art, S.A., and Amsterdam: Harry N. Abrams, N.V., 1964 Pascal, B l a i s e . Pensees. trans. A.J. Krailsheimer. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1966. Tolstoy, Leo. What i s A r t . trans. A. Maude. London: Oxford University Press, 1955. Truchman, Maurice. Chaim Soutine, 189 3-194 3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1968. Catalogues Coplans, John. Los Angeles Six. The Vancouver Art Gallery, March 31-May 5, 1968. Reviews Lowndes, Joan, Vision Changes His Art. Vancouver Sun, 11 Oct., 1970. An Oddly Assorted Company. Vancouver ~Sun, 22 Feb., 1972. Simmons, Richard. A r t i s t Cries Out Profoundly But Message Unconvincing. Vancouver Province, 12 Aug., 1970. 74 Appendix A SLIDE NO . TITLE SIZE IN CM MEDIUM DATE 1 Blue Lady 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1968 2 Blue Lady (Close up) 1968 3 Tomb #1 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1968 4 Tomb #2 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1968 5 Sense Box 152 .4x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 6 Ash Box 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 7 Prison 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 8 Dream Room #1 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 9 Dream Room #2 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 10 In 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 11 Recept 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 12 Hydra 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 13 Saved by Grace 121 .9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 14 Ask 121 .9x152 .4 Acrylic/Canvas 1969 15 I n s t a l l a t i o n Airbrush 1970 16 I n s t a l l a t i o n Silkscreen P r i n t 1970 17 Burden of Dhuma 121 .9x182.88 Acrylic/Canvas 1970 18 Airbrush Drawing 25. 4x30.48 Ink/Paper 1970 19 The Price 121 .9x121.9 Oil/Canvas 1971 20 Out of My B e l l y 121 .9x293.84 Ink/Paper/ Plexiglass 1971 21 Four Faces 60. 96x293.84 Ink/Paper/ Plexiglass 1971 22 Forgive Them 60. 96x293.84 Ink/Paper/ Plexiglass 1971 23 For the World 45. 72x60.96 Ink/Paper 1972 24 Thiefs Choice 45. 72x 6 0.96 Ink/Paper 1972 25 Greater than Jonah 45. 72x60.96 Ink/Paper 1972 26 No More 152 .4x182.8 Oil/Canvas 1972 27 Oh Jerusalem 152 .4x182.2 Oil/Canvas 1972 28 Bread Drawing 25 . 4x35.56 Graphite/Paper 1974 29 Manna from Heaven 8.1. 28x81.28 Oil/Canvas 1973 30 Cosmic Bread 121 .92x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1974 31 Thorn Drawing 45. 72x60.96 Graphite/Paper 1974 32 Thorn Drawing 45. 72x60.96 Graphite/Paper 1974 33 Night Thorn 71. 12x106.68 Ink/Showcard 1974 34 B i r t h 71. 12x106.68 Ink/Showcard 1974 35 White V e r t i c a l 71. 12x106.68 Ink/Showcard 1974 36 Pencil 25. 4x30.48 Acrylic/Paper 1973 75 SLIDE NO. TITLE 37 Snake Pencil 38 Culvert Pencil 39 Floating Bread 4 0 Rocks 41 Take 4 2 Break 4 3 Eunich's Dream 4 4 Come Forth 45 Lazarus 4 6 Nathanial 1s Tree 47 Jonah's Prayer 4 8 Dove Son 4 9 Son Rise 50 Red Brush 51 Yellow, Red, Blue 52 Point No Point 53 Wild Horse 54 Fragment Drawing 55 Bread Drawing 56 Fragment Drawing 57 David's S c r o l l 58 The Mocking 59 Do Men S t i l l Wrestle Angels? 60 Jacob's Angel 61 Jacob's Ladder's End 62 Angel at Dawn 63 Outside the Garden #1 64 Outside the Garden #2 65 Flesh Box of My Body 66 Outside the Garden #3 SIZE IN CM MEDIUM DATE 60.96x182.88 Poster Paint/ Drug Bond 1973 25.4x30.48 Acrylic/Paper 1973 45.72x60.96 Acrylic/Paper 1974 45.72x60.96 Acrylic/Paper 1974 45.72x60.96 Acrylic/Paper 1975 121.92x129.9 Acrylic/Canvas 1975 152.4x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1976 127.0x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1976 91.44x182.8 Acrylic/Canvas 1976 91.44x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1977 91.44x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1977 132.08x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1978 132.08x165.1 Mixed Media 1979 71.12x106.68 Acrylic/Paper 1979 132.08x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1979 132.08x165.1 Mixed Media 1979 45.72x60.96 Silkscreen Pri n t 1981 45.72x60.96 Graphite/Paper 1981 25.4x35.56 Graphite/Paper 1973 45.72x60.96 Graphite/Paper 1981 71.12x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 96.52x121.92 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 45.72x60.96 Silkscreen P r i n t 1981 132.08x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 132.08x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 96.52x121.92 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 96.52x121.92 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 121.9x121.9 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 132.08x165.1 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 121.9x152.4 Acrylic/Canvas 1981 ARTIST HARRY STANBRIDGE 4526 Hughes Rd., R.R. 3, V i c t o r i a , B.C. V8X-6G3 B. 1943, Quesnel, B.C. Honors graduate, Vancouver School of Art, 1968. Bachelor Art Education, U..B.C. 1974 Presently teaching Art at the Senior High School l e v e l i n V i c t o r i a , B.C. Solo Exhibitions Simon Fraser University, Gallery West, 1968. Pr e i s t l a y Gallery, Vancouver, 196 9. Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, 1970. P r e i s t l a y Gallery, Vancouver, 1971. Gallery A l l e n , Vancouver, 1972. Gallery A l l e n , Vancouver, 1975. Open Space, V i c t o r i a , 1976. Open Space, V i c t o r i a , 1978. Media Gallery, V i c t o r i a , 1979. Juried and Group Shows 4 0th International P r i n t Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum Man and His World, Vancouver Painters, Montreal, 1968. 9th Annual Graphics Show, Calgary, 1969. 1st San Diego I n v i t a t i o n a l , Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, C a l i f . 1969. West Coast Sky Scapes, C.C.A.A.C., Oakland, C a l i f . 1970. Woman, Burnaby Art Gallery, 1972. Kinesis, V i c t o r i a Art Gallery, 1976. 5, Open Space Gallery, V i c t o r i a , 1977. A r t i s t s from the lower Island, V i c t o r i a Art Gallery, 1977. Collections and Awards Museum of Modern Art, Seattle, Wash. Library, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Library University of Alberta, Edmonton Rothmans of Canada City of Vancouver Pr o v i n c i a l C o l l e c t i o n , Government of B r i t i s h Columbia Many Private Collections Canada Council Grant Short Term (196 9) Purchase Award, 4 0th International P r i n t Exhibition, Seattle Art Museum

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