I moved into the Ox in July, 2012. A queer-safe unfinished warehouse in Kensington (Philly), occupied by an assortment of some 20 or so weird people: activists, queers, musicians, artists (and one subparticle physicist– who slept on the roof), a place I’ve never in my life felt more at home. For the first time in more than 40 years, I found myself in a place where I had room to make art. For years, I’d been fascinated by found things, junk left in the trash, things I’d come across on streets and vacant lots and nursed dreams of assembling these objects–maybe together with drawings, painting–what Rouschenberg called ‘combines.’
The Ox itself was full of stuff–I put a board on a large table in an open space by an open loading space for light, and began arranging things, moving them this way and that. I wasn’t thinking of re-making myself as an artist. It was something I could do without words–visual thinking that felt like ice breaking on a river after a very long winter.
After coming back from a week long interruption, walking from Philly to New York and Zuccotti Park with the OWS Guitarmy, in honor of Woody Guthrie’s 100’th birthday, I bought Modpodge, found some old cans of house paint, borrowed some jars of acrylic, and put this piece together.
The next piece, a piece of rusted steel, glass, wood scraps, washers and a rusty nail on cardboard and a frame from an antique photo album. 30x24cm.
Called it Sexuation, and signed it ‘Willard,’ my legal birth name, which I’ve never used. Named for my maternal grandfather, who died two weeks before in I was born,I thought it would be a way to honor this man I’d never known, and my uncle, an artist and mentor, who I’d recently learned has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The next day I went to Utrect and bought brushes, pigments and more Modpodge. We made one of the rooms in the Ox into a studio. As of this day, January 25, 2015, I’ve finished another 301 pieces, assemblages, ‘combines,’ drawings and paintings.
I’ll be posting both old and new work on this blog. Stay tuned.