Consumed by either fire or fire

sideshow ticket taker

It is common practice, pretty well unquestioned, to require an artist’s statement, even for a group of paintings hanging right there on the wall. Comes mebbe from the habit of looking at reproductions in magazines and books about art. As if the text gives visible official sanction. It does help to articulate one’s purposes I suppose, even after the fact, but the temptation is there to just mug for the camera and make something up. Couple years ago Billy and I hung a bunch of pictures and submitted the following explanatory text for the advertising people.

Rock: “I paint on the assumption that I’m a redneck with notions about art. I choose rather traditional subject matter – figures, landscapes, still lives and try to just concentrate on my handwriting. I’m rather captivated by the idea of possibly creating numinous objects and luxury items for white people at one and the same time.


I’ve been painting alongside Bill Batten in one way or another since we first met. He works in chalk. I work in paint. When people ask me where I get my ideas, I always say from Bill. When I asked him about text for the show he said

Bill: “I think it should indicate that this show is a review of past and current work, that we haven’t been showing much in the past decade out of choice and due to circumstances. It is a chance for us to see, in the same space, work we have been showing each other but not many others. We’ll see the influence we have on each other’s work, after years of working in physical isolation from each other, and continuing a written and verbal dialogs.

It’ll be a chance for us to sum up the past decade, to make some sense of what we have been doing, to get an idea of what comes next…painting without recourse to bathos, observing and recording experience, using the same observant detachment with regard to ourselves that we would apply to a still life, realizing that in painting our self portraits through the accumulation of formal concerns we are attempting to gain something akin to a more universal understanding of personal experiences while hopefully providing the same for the viewer through its corollary. All while making pretty little pictures. Continuing the practice of making art rather than statements. Whadda ya think of that ?

Rock: “Kay.”


On the page titled “Adventures in Marketing” there’s record of a funny exchange between a marketing director and myself that gives a fair indication of the way in which these vain blocks of text are hammered together. The kind reader may find it enlightening.


~ by Rocky Green on April 4, 2010.

One Response to “Consumed by either fire or fire”

  1. Well, I like your statement. far better than the gobbledy-gook, PhD thesis type of statement which passes for artists statements in some venues. At least yours doesn’t get in the way of a viewer’s formulating thoughts and doesn’t muck up the atmosphere with self-important crap. I have learned to be succinct, direct, unvarnished and plain in my artist statements. Keeps my ego in check. G

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