Sharpie Looks for God (2014)
by Dorothy Goode
Sharpie Looks For God started off as a way to get paintings out of the studio and into bars. It had already been many years since I felt there to be anything precious about gesture, my own in particular, within art objects. But I had yet to invite anyone else into the ritual that had become so firmly entrenched in my life: the making of abstract paintings. The first time a panel walked into a bar, it was a thrill. My boyfriend wrote on it. I spilled Tabasco. It was liberating.
Then I would have people come into the studio and add whatever mess or gesture of their own, and I found that I became permitted to do things as yet refused to me by my own habits. Many panels walked into many bars. But many of them didn’t. The longer the project continued, the less important it became whether I or someone else had made a mark. If a mark has no Divine Purpose, no Unique Destiny, then it does not matter how it gets there, and I can at least be depended upon to show up for work. I have never considered my gesture to be expressive, strictly speaking. I have considered it evasive. I’ve been getting out of things my whole life, and my artwork is no exception.
However, there is a difference between something that Works (within an articulated visual language) and something that does not. My paintings are built out of discrete moments: sometimes few and sometimes many, and when there are many, it is usually because… something isn’t right yet. And the idea that moments can be psychologically (if indirectly) traced using simple tools and physical processes is something I would assert. I can bring myself to the closest thing I’ve known to God through participation in the movable math problem known to me as making a painting or drawing. But this is not necessarily relevant in itself. Nor is it always easy to have a painting stand alone. There is much to be answered for, and much to be lived down, historically and otherwise.
And so the results of Sharpie’s journeys have been set into configurations: “The Core,” “The Open Core,” “The Apartment,” “The Vertical,” “The Horzontal,” and “The Snake.” The aim of this is to both confuse the issue (that these are indeed individual abstract paintings) and highlight it simultaneously—while also stating the obvious: No moment stands alone. They are inextricably intertwined. Interdependent. Doomed. But also occasionally gorgeous.
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