“What is the why?” said Joe.–Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
The Zen-man is an artist to the extent that, as the sculptor chisels out a great figure deeply buried in a mass of inert matter, the Zen-man transforms his own life into a work of creation…–Daisetz T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture
No, I don’t like work.
I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.–Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
It was probably Chekhov who said that the novelist is not someone who answers questions but someone who asks them.–Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
The Expanding Color System is a collection of artwork, as diverse in form as it is in content.
I originally created the title, The Expanding Color System, for a book series entitled 1 Artist 1 Concept, which I began with Griff Williams of Gallery 16 in San Francisco. I wanted to create a motto that would define my sprawling artistic endeavors. By incorporating the word ‘expanding,’ I was hoping to infuse the title with the theme of art as infinite.
One important aspect to assembling artworks into a collection is the discovery of relationships. The visual relationship between a photograph I took of a street performer whose face had been painted like Charlie Chaplin’s and a painting I made of an abstract butterfly with a smiling face on its wings reminds me of how important it is to make art and to share it.
I have never wanted myself, or my art, to be limited. Like the Zen arts, the act of making art is a path or a way for me. My art is my solitude; it makes me happy, it frustrates me, it makes me feel insecure, it educates me, it is how I met my wife, it’s a way in which I communicate with my children, it is a lens through which I process the world, and, significantly, it’s mine. In an age where social networking reigns, I hope The Expanding Color System encourages viewers—especially my 11-year-old daughter and my 9-year-old son— to consider that looking inward may actually be the best way of reaching out.
The collection includes an inventory list. Written vignettes, often an element of an artwork, are also integrated into the collection. Some materials used to create the artworks include beeswax, Kool-Aid, air, Spiral Jetty salt, mold, asbestos from the Smithsonian Institute, marbles, pencil lead, ink, oil paint, books, newspaper, photographs, rocks and, of course, Scotch whisky.