There it is as of today, well dried and all. It measures about four and a half feet by almost six feet. I stare at it bemused. That upper left corner bothers me. I consider what further must be done.
In the meantime and for that one person in Upper Manchuria who is passingly interested in what this is all about, I shall explain. When I returned to this part of the rural United States of America after nigh on to five years away in Mexico, I noticed that a strange phenomenon had taken hold among the locals, something called “barn quilts.” I know that many of you are well familiar with this movement, but I was not at that time. Barn quilts had materialized in my absence.
I find that barn quilts are invariably composed of geometric designs. Geometric designs have never warmed my heart, not even the high falutin’ ones such as Piet Mondrian incorporated into his paintings. The barn quilts that I have seen have all struck me as kitsch. (See old essay on Thomas Kinkade.) Still, I was inspired to hang something on the end of the barn here, but something contrary to the geometric flow of these barn quilts, if you will. A big Jackson Pollock painting seemed to me the perfect thing. When I checked on the latest auction prices for a big Jackson Pollock, however, I found that they were out of my price range. The only option left to me was to make something myself á la Jackson Pollock and hang it.
It has so happened that just this past week I read a little article on Helen Frankenthaler. There is apparently a show of her “color-field” paintings going on right now somewhere in the big city. In this review of that show, she is quoted as having said, “You could become a de Kooning disciple or satellite or mirror, but you could depart from Pollock . . . .” The reviewer of the show, Peter Schjeldahl, explains that “she meant that adapting Pollock’s idea of coöperating with chance held more promise than aping de Kooning’s unattainable virtuosity.” Could not have said it better myself. That is precisely why it never occurred to me to try composing a barn quilt á la Willem de Kooning.
I myself am now ready to depart from Pollock. I remain a bit flummoxed, however, as to where I ought to depart to and continue to stare at this thing.