I’ve never had a job that I can recall that was pure art. Most of my handwork has been based off architecture, and that inhabits a shadow world between art and utility. The furniture business is like that, too. Am I trying to make functional things in an visually interesting way, or visually interesting things that are functional? I don’t know.
I take things that I just made and I beat them with chains, among other abominations. It’s an odd sensation, especially the first time you do it. The purpose is to mimic a real kind of use. It’s not real, exactly, but it’s the representation of a kind of reality. It’s as if you’re trying to capture a point in time, and an artist can never really be in a moment in time. It’s gone by and he tries to recreate it, or it’s in the future and he’s trying to predict it. And he’s editing that moment in time, to include what is necessary to express the feeling about the subject that is desired. Even a photographer does this, because what he leaves out is as important as what is left in, and how things are composed is still subject to the subjective.
People need a hook to hang me on in their intellectual cupboard, and search for one from time to time. I’ve had people box the compass of comparison from Norm to Richard Brautigan. None of them ever seem to fit, at least to me.
The picture at the top is a painting called Safeway Interior, by an artist named Ralph Goings, from 1974.
Why do I make a brand new table and try to make it look old? I don’t know. To capture something. Writing fiction is like that, too, but I’d have a deuce of a time explaining how an end table and Huckleberry Finn are blood brothers to anyone not living in my cobwebbed mind.
Why does Ralph Goings paint a picture you mistook for a photograph of a mundane thing? I don’t know, but I suspect it’s somehow similar. He’s just better at his job than I am at mine.