Oil and ink on various materials
Betty Dodson would have said these paintings would be better described as sex art rather than erotic art. She hated the term erotic art and preferred the more direct phrase calling out what the subject was without the pretense and baggage associated with the word erotic.
Like Dodson, I dislike the word erotic but for different reasons. I dislike what it has come to mean in modern America which generally speaking means polite porn. Or perhaps more accurate but less poetic, arty porn.
I like my porn raunchy and direct and arty. But I’m going off on a tangent here.
The reason I don’t like” erotic” is because it’s original Ancient Greek meaning has been lost in all this gibber jabber about what is porn and what is art etc…. Yawn. The original meaning was closer to a power in the universe that draws things together and animates them … energizes them. A little like the energy that can be felt when opposite poles of a magnet approach each other. The ancients believed that Eros was a god or force of nature. And was not limited to sex although it included that as one of its expressions. They would have said that a group of musicians finding their groove together was Eros as much as two lovers getting excited about sex together. They also believed sex could be performed without Eros and from what I can tell that was as disappointing to them as it would be to most of us today. In the same way that listening to musicians mechanically going through the motions but having no special connection would be disappointing.
From the years 2002 or so until about 2012 I created and ran an experimental theater called the Little Red Studio that was meant to explore this very subject. And we did. This website is not the place to describe all that it was. I will suffice it to say that we all learned a lot, had a lot of fun and made a lot of art. And to the consternation and disbelief of those who never actually attended, did not have any more or less sex than anybody else. As I have said earlier in this essay and thousands of times before … it wasn’t about sex.
It’s hard to say that food is not about quenching hunger to a starving man. It’s about nourishment, enjoyment, connecting with family and so much more to someone who is not starving.
Well, because Americans are largely sex starved and or sexually repressed a big part of Little Red Studio was educational. And like all education it was exhausting. After 10 years I was burnt out from that effort. I had done my part to help as many as I could understand that Eros is more generally about increase and “erotic” roughly meant non rot…..or to grow and be fertile with life and energy. Seems so obvious once you aren’t starving and take a moment to feel what’s happening … or isn’t happening. Aagghghg.
Those that were there and got it are deeply grateful to me and hopefully continue spreading that awareness in their lives.
And, I made a ton of art in every aspect of what had become my standard ways of making art: mythic figurative works like these, realistic figurative work, abstract painting, sculpture and works on paper. And as prolific as I was, when I look back on those years I feel like I squandered most of it. Thank god I what I did.
“Melinda, Jeff, Sam and Lulu”
Oil on panel/canvas
This is as close as I got to painting a family portrait. They were not done at the same time and I should probably do another version of Lulu as a clown like the other ones. These paintings all ended up in the home of my ex and the mother of our kids. That is her in the bright green colored outfit and hat. These are highly stylized of course but unmistakably who they represent. The one of Lulu was painted from the picture I carried of her in my wallet until it just fell apart. Maybe I’ll offer Melinda a trade. A new painting of LuLu as a clown to match the other pieces in exchange for this one?
“Study for Suffering Change”
8″ x 8″
I rarely do this. Make a sketch in oil paint of something I am thinking of doing in a realistic style. I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure why I made an exception this time. But here it is. This was one of the first sketches I did for the large cabinet piece called “Suffering Change”. As it turns out I didn’t use this particular arrangement. But you can see me working out the ideas here. Two men appear to be hoisting a third man up by his ankles. I have included a picture of the middle section of the finished cabinet piece so that you can see how this initial idea got me started.