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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

(from ashley)

Creation is powered by energy; and this city is awash in energy.  Sometimes the energy is fraught with anxiety, tension, and oppression and lately, thats the kind gushing through my outlets.   As every good environmentalist knows, energy is not to be wasted and so I’m trying to give my energy to art.  

acrylic on woodblock

crowded and tough. acrylic on woodblock


 Usually I feel like painting something huge and wrathful and then rolling around in the paint via a visceral “help me” dance.   Given my space restrictions and lack of funds for large quantities of paint, I’ve been working small and rather civilized.  

I remind myself that restrictions and limitations propel creativity, and I  focus on containing all that impulse into a 5″ x 5″  block.  Though less indulgent,  it aptly aligns with my  caged emotions.

heavy skies. acrylic on woodblock

heavy skies. acrylic on woodblock


These little paintings have been manifestations of  my initial experience with New York City.  A few motifs are beginning to emerge.

First, is my effort toward equilibrium.  Anytime we encounter the unknown,  we seek to understand it in terms of our familiar. My familiar is Appalachia,  it is the place that I can take the deepest and most satisfying breaths.  And so as dissonent as it may seem, I’m finding the similarities between these two places.  

Second, I’m struck with the machine of the city.   People have created something so complex and large, that they no longer have control over it; humans are cursory to New York City.  It’s packed with little human pods and the mechanisms for transporting, feeding, and disposing of their waste.  I’m constantly stunned by its magnitude and reach.

stacked human pods. acrylic on woodblock

stacked human pods. acrylic on woodblock


Finally, I’m enthralled by the city’s lines of protection.  Vulnerability is disguised with sleekness and yards of gates hem in weakness.  Being guarded doesn’t seem to be an active resolve on the part of  the citizen, but rather a reaction to living in the abrasive tangle of machinery.  Living here requires hardiness and it is self-perpetuating; we must protect ourselves from our fortified peers.

I know to live here, I must adapt, but I’m just not sure I want to enlist.  The crinkle between open mindedness and conviction is a difficult line to navigate.  I want to maintain my persuasion toward simple living, gentleness, and transparency but I don’t want to be eaten for dinner or so stubborn that I miss out on a richer understanding and love for the world.  And so for now, I’m painting and thinking and experiencing one day at a time, even if that means living with the sharp bristles of contradiction for awhile.


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