Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Mose Tolliver Project

Folk Artists/Outsider Artists/Self-taught Artists - whatever you want to call them - often capture me with their practical approaches to art-making, balancing the simple and the sophisticated in visionary, highly independent works.
Alabama is a real pocket of genius in the world. I wanted to come down here to explore the environment some and to develop a project that somehow responds to or dialogues with what has grown from this far out place.

Mose Tolliver (1919 or 20 - 2006) gained widespread attention with his paintings. Nature, community, religion, politics, sensuality, and mortality were all part of his hardy visual explorations.

I've found that his fantastic, humorous, sometimes grotesque iconography really lends itself to three-dimensionality and kinetics. I'm setting out now to interpret some of his visions in this way. I hope to collaborate with the community of York both in creating this grand work and in developing a performance/presentation at the culmination of my residency.

Here are a couple of versions of Mr. Bones, a recurring character in Mr. Tolliver's work. Seems Mr. Bones is the result of the contemplation of mortality. Mr.Bones fills me with a sense of fun, whimsy, and horror.

Constructing the armature for Mr.Bones' big head.

I found this 3-wheeler in the storage shed. I will build a sculpture on the back of it and ride around.

Mary Jane is on the board of the Coleman Center. She has a cozy little shop around the corner where she makes the best baskets from found objects and natural things.

Tierney Malone of Houston was invited by the Coleman Center to paint this large mural about York and the musical legacy of the Black Belt region. He brought his friend, Drew, a great Jamaican chef, to assist him. I climbed the scaffolding intending to help out but it got dark before I could do anything.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Newark to York

Self-Portrait with
giant rusty rooster
York, Alabama
September 23, 2007

I got to York a few days ago. Drove down from Jersey in the Queen Esther Mobile. Took 3 days. My mechanic said it'd be okay to drive her as long as i stopped every few hours to let her cool down. I obeyed and she got here without a hitch. Seems she's driving better than ever actually. It was fun. i stopped in Roanoke, Va. and Knoxville, Tn. Made lots of friends. Had lots of interesting conversations.

York is sweet as hell. I can't tell you how happy I am to finally be here. I'll be staying in this here house. It's an old converted doctor's office. I live upstairs and there's a studio downstairs for painting or whatever i want to do. Also on the grounds of the Coleman Center are a gallery, library, wood shop, more artist residences and studios and a decent computer center. There's another artist here for just a few more days then I'll be here alone for two months. That's cool though. I'll be constructing lots of big objects and using just about all the buildings here for something or other. You'd never expect such a contemporary art situation in this sleepy old southern town. Just across the way is a Piggly Wiggly and a real jook joint. I kid you not. There's also plenty of shotgun shacks and churches churches and more churches.

This is Nathan and Shana. They run the Coleman Arts Center. They came down from Indiana a few years ago as artists-in-residence and ended up staying. They are very committed to this place and are doing a bang-up job overseeing its expansion.

I dive head on into the Mose Tolliver project this coming week.