Opening Thursday October 12 at Sally Centigrade Gallery in Lakewood, CO is "Beneath the Skin," a skull-themed group show curated by Scot Nobles, and I have the great pleasure of being a part of it. I'm contributing a new linocut piece titled "Mono Mona (Mori)," and it's based on an older work called "Mono Mona" (that was in Valkarie Gallery's 2016 "Monkey Business" group show).
Originally, the piece was supposed to be oriented in the opposite direction to match the source work, but...I messed up when I was transferring the drawing from tracing paper to lino block. Oops. Deadline was fast-approaching, though, so I had to just go with it. It ends up kinda working as a sorta mirror image to the mouths-agape Mona monkeys. If that's so, then why are the skeletal monkeys wearing hoodies in this one? 'Cos death is cold, man.
Another detail worth mentioning: all of their hoodie cords are tied together (knots are hidden, but implied). The monkeys in the first piece (not shown) are all looking in the same direction with the same amazed/aghast look on their faces. What are they looking at? In my mind's eye, they're looking at a great cataclysm coming their way -- perhaps a nuclear mushroom cloud. They're tied together as a community then. So, it seems fitting that in death also they remain connected.
I'm still fascinated with these pseudo-patterns. Another way to describe them: imperfect patterns. Every skull is different in subtle ways: facial structure, number of teeth, location relative to others, etc. Now, maybe that has more to do with my inability to design and execute in a more exacting manner. Probable. (Linocut is an inexact medium, no matter how you cut it). Beyond that, though, I see these relationships in nature all the time. We're all just trying to keep chaos at bay, so we seek patterns, algorithms, functions, trends -- any statistical means of making it all make sense. Nature has its exceptions, though -- breaks in the pattern -- and it reminds me that chaos is always there. It's the other side to the same story.
Reminds me of a dream I had this summer, wherein I was standing on a beach, in fear of a great tidal wave microseconds away from engulfing and obliterating me. Just as the water touched my toes, though, the wave paused, towering stories above me, quivering, flowing, spraying salty mist on my face, dripping high above. And it just stayed there.
I was afraid of the wave, but was the wave also afraid of me? Or was it merely allowing me to recognize its power? If so, standing there, facing it, was I not doing the same to it?
I see chaos showing in people I know. People I'm close with. I see it in myself. In my actions, in my views of the world and the lives in it. And it can be sad and dark. And scary.
But it can also be achingly beautiful. And funny. And wonderful.