I love how my birth announcement directly contradicts scripture:
I also enjoy how mystified my dad appears in this picture with me from those early days of my life. I have many times felt the way he appears to feel in this picture… I guess I feel this way more and more now. When this picture was taken my dad was almost exactly the age I am now. Strange perspective.
This year has probably been the most strange, hard, and upheaval-filled since I got married a decade ago. I’m not sure what to say. I have seen and done amazing things in just the last 6 months. But I’ve also been shown my limits and frailties in so many ways. Here’s hoping for a year of becoming a better husband, dad, teacher, artist, and friend. God knows I could use some remediation on all of these things.
When I turned 18 in 1994, my mother gave me a Swiss Army Trench coat, also called a Greatcoat. If you poke around on eBay or other vintage and/or Army+Navy stores you can often find these high quality coats for $75 or $80; mom got this one for something like $10. They’re all fairly old – mine is around 45 or 50 years old. It’s definitely been the most enduring body-covering item I’ve had, robustly surviving throughout the years with only some minor modifications. Gotta love those official Swiss cross buttons!
Here’s my coat hanging on the door of the Alaskan Oil Konvenience store where I worked for several years before and during my undergraduate time. This shot is from 1997, just a few years after first getting the coat, taken with my father’s ancient Minolta SLR.
Above: Self Portrait with Halo, acrylic on canvas, 8 by 10 inches, 2000. There’s that coat again – obviously I’ve built some sort of persona around it. Forgive my self-aggrandizement. I can still remember the day in my dorm room at SAIC when I began this piece. It was the last in a line of undergraduate self portraits featuring the coat.
Here I am at Salmon River Falls in upstate New York, in a photo taken by my cousin Chris. This image is from 2002.
Jumping forward a few years here – This photo was taken in the winter of 2007/2008 just after I moved to Missouri to start teaching at Mizzou.
And now today in my studio with a dodecahedron below it.
This coat has been a great companion for me. I’m going to celebrate it by following in the footsteps of Diebenkorn, who famously created a series of etchings based on his own old coat for a special volume of W. B. Yeats poems (If you’ve got a few grand, you can purchase an edition – there’s one left – here). I want to dwell on that coat and where it has been with me. Keep an eye open for some paintings and/or drawings to appear soon.
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! #36years
This is a baby blanket made for me by a neighbor (Mrs Kinney!) when I was born. I don’t have a sentimental connection to other blankets from my childhood, and I don’t even know how much I actually used this as a baby, but this one has always has a presence in my mind. I turn 36 this Friday, so I’ve been thinking about things I’ve had for a long time and what it’s like to have things connected to our existence. I love how John Dewey described this effect. He called it “funding” – that is, the way we create significance and meaning via the experiences we have, then associate those meanings with the objects and spaces around us. There’s something about the color, the shapes, and the idea of the bicentennial of the United States all coming together in this blanket that’s always been interesting to me. Now I’ve got the piece hanging in my studio; who knows what other meanings and resonances it will gather as time continues.