In such a cool culture and time, in such an anti-intellectual country, what made us believe in our emotional statements as significant? While our subjects vary widely from a poignant and mournful library, the horrors of history to the “divided self” we share a belief in emotion, whether the poignancy or horror in your oeuvres, or the abstract yet visceral boldness that speaks of the life force, societal and personal, in mine. We all look hard and interpret with both joy and anxiety. We all revel in color, gesture and image, whether abstract or figurative, whether responding to the evils of history, the syncopation of music, a transcendental atmosphere or wild bird calls. Did Jackson Pollock’s response to you, Stella, that he thought of the sky when he painted strike a chord and give you courage to be a poet of visual culture? I never asked what you thought of Stella because my mind drifts as I paint, ranging from insecurity and tension to calm philosophical musings. Did you think of Billy? Tony Fruscella? Or just furiously work with the medium against the clock?
What triggered your return to Abstract Expressionism and prompted you to stop painting realistically and stop drawing animals as you had for some time, Miriam? Was it your critical response to others less expressionistic, less violent? Was it Schnabel, Basquiat, Snyder, Passlof, Resnick, McNeil? Did you think that you were better, that you were truer, looking to Van Gogh, Bacon and Soutine? Your seriousness inspired me and made me feel secure in my own postmodern expressionism. It helped me continue to be soulful–not intimidated by the rampant irony and political illustration that is today touted as art. I was glad to commune with a philosophy that was greater than we all were. Not make art about the small situation, the unimportant attribute. I know we all look for varying tenors of the visceral. I know we don’t paint with ease. Yet I want the painting to read as an organic object that looks as if an idiosyncratic God were responsible for its existence. I’m not interested in prowess or gamesmanship. I want the painting to look furiously willed into being. Struggle remains. I don’t like the superficially accomplished. I’m not impressed with most technique. I hate works which illustrate. I want to reveal what it is to be sensate. Is there no room for my “earnest relentlessness” because I’m in my mid fifties? No room for a Clyfford Still today? What would Still or Pollock say to Lisa Yuskavage, Elizabeth Peyton or John Currin?
Will I have your resiliency? You’re both not bitter though your bodies of work prove that you both deserve more renown and acknowledgment. As a young artist I yearned to achieve recognition from external sources because I needed the affirmation that I could not easily give myself. I did not have a healthy degree of self esteem about my life’s work. I often felt despair and alienation from the powers of the art world and from the hipper artists of the scene. Today I’ve overcome that yearning and feel at my best when I paint and create. Today I’m productive.