I was concerned when assembling this review that I might confuse my readers with disparate series of works from this year. To be a generalist also conflicts with good advice. Mark Twain observed, “Astonishing things can be done with the human memory if you will devote it faithfully to one particular line of business.” My amateur values — instincts, sensibilities, proclivities, predisposition, or simply upbringing — do not strictly adhere to professional realities. “Reality,” Philip K. Dick helpfully defined, “is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
In 2016 I explored form and materials in small scale pieces in still life, figure, and landscape; in oils, gouache, collage, animations and gifs. In the spring I acquired a Namiki Pilot Falcon flexible nib pen for drawing; and constructed and painted landscapes in an artist sketchbook.
The technological frame faced diversification, too. A substantial update of my website fixed broken links, reformatted vestigial content, and removed lines of Blogger code leftover from a 2007 site migration, previously consolidated from an html site that I inaugurated in 2002. The blog structure itself hinted at obsolescence this year, remnant of the oughts, eclipsed by fast-paced electronic platforms, social media, et al. Absorption of the daily avalanche of digital images in 2016 — still, moving, and historical — is beyond flood stage. Artwork appears in ever increasing numbers in the broadest possible range of styles, competing with vacation, breakfast, animal, and conceptual glossies; vying to be seen amidst the steady pinging of art’s all-time greatest hits. The homogenized flow of digital images can be wearying.
Cross-training in sports is good for athletic conditioning. On the day of the game though, one must pick an arena or cop to dilettantism. “I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman said. Perhaps grappling for victory is exactly what 2016 demanded. One can abandon hope or go on. I choose the latter.
ABOVE: In Memoriam Xmas Card Mash-up, commercial card collage, 10×7 inches, 2016
ABOVE & BELOW: After Nicolas de Staël, acrylic-painted paper collage, 3×3 inches, 2016
ABOVE & BELOW: Missed Ships, Namiki Pilot Falcon pen & Moleskine, 8×5 inch, 2016