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01. Touching the Hem, 2004, 24” x 24”

01.	Touching the Hem, 2004, 24” x 24”
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Many years ago, I was at an art conference where John Baldassari, an artist whom I much admire, told a story about burning all the paintings he had made in the first 20 years of his career. What I recall most is the sense of freedom he had from that act, a kind of relief from the burden of storing paintings that nobody looked at, least of all himself.

When I left Los Angeles in 1989, I had recently completed my Master of Fine Arts degree, and I had a closet full of student drawings and paintings. I had been offered a teaching position in the DC area, and not wanting to transport a bunch of bad art 3000 miles, I whitewashed the canvasses and gave them away. It was a relief to know that someone else could make use of them.

In 2004, I attended the funeral of another artist whom I greatly admire, Martha Tabor. After the service, everyone went downstairs to the social hall, where table after table was piled high with prints and photographs that Martha was unable to sell during her lifetime. Instead of a repast or a coffee hour, everyone was invited to take whatever they liked. Two of Martha’s small, exquisite portraits of her beloved dog remind me of her every time I walk up the stairs of my house.

While my piles of art are not as enormous as Martha’s, I have accumulated a lot of paintings that I no longer want to store, or even look at, and I don’t want to wait until I have died to give it away. Some of it seems embarrassingly awkward, and some is probably good, but I am no longer able to judge. Either way, the sheer weight of these paintings holds me down, binding me too tightly to an artistic path that no longer feeds my soul.

This exhibition is an attempt to make space in my heart and my imagination so that I can go forward into the next stage of my life, whatever that may be. I’ve always been a bit bewildered by artists who have a hard time letting go of their works, saying that they are like their children. While I do not think of my artworks as my children, for me both children and artworks have their own lives once I have done my part in shaping them. And in both cases, I would much rather that they make someone else happy than keep them wrapped up in a dark closet.

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