Walking Like an Egyptian
During the latter half of the 80s I added a contextual layer to my painting exhibitions by painting various color patterns on the wall. The idea was to extend the individual works into a larger whole, to make the entire gallery space a container which brought the individual pieces into conversations with one another.
This was the first time I tried out the idea. I thought it would be funny to paint a very schematic plaid pattern on the wall, a pattern based on a design I found on a plastic shopping bag, for my first show in a London gallery. But The Guardian reviewer didn’t see the humor and came at me with one of the oldest character smears the English bring to the Scots, that we are grim and ‘dour,’ unable to see the joy in life. Anthony was one of the most supportive gallerists I ever worked with, and I returned several times to paint on his walls.
The Party’s Over
For this show at MetroPictures n early 1987 I built a semi-circular wall to contain an arrangement of paintings in a continuous narrative. I had been doing research on 19th Century panorama paintings for an essay in Artforum, and that informed the project. The panorama here was of life in the later Reagan years in the US, spanning self-congratulatory wealth and power to abject poverty and sickness. In the front part of the gallery I arranged several almost abstract paintings over an elongated triangle painted pale blue.
Walking Line an Egyptian
Some months after The Party’s Over at MetroPictures Ron Onorato invited me to do a show at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (now expanded to be the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, MCASD) in. Here I rein stalled the second part of the MetroPictures show, tying the two walls together with a large graphic with two arrows pointing away from a photographic close-up of the US Capitol building. In the small gallery overlooking the ocean I built a makeshift billboard with photographic images of the Manhattan skyline at night and oversized martini glasses, punctuated by round fluourescent lights. The idea being to continue the discourse on spectacularized consumerism.