The Song of the Spiritual Plumber

New York, NY


Will someone please be my eyes and ears? I am blind and deaf, I can sense only with the burning swirly tips of finger. There are tornadoes of synaptic motion that won’t stop. I can’t believe how much time has passed. I am meditating on the doodle of cheez and how it curls like a smile. I am meditating on the hammer and the skittle and how their union undermines the once fervent ideology of the rainbow. Something I wish: that pimples could culminate in glitter instead of pus. I am seeking the ornamental rash, the sparkle in the pustule.

To pervert a quote from Karl Marx: all that’s solid melts into goo. You will just have to use your mind’s eye to conjure the many types of goo that exist. Start with Cool Whip. Move on to Jello. Then think tapioca. Then there are the end-of-the-world scenarios that involve evil goo made of self-replicating nano-bots. The Grey Goo goes out of control and takes over everything, glad-hands itself into every crevice, halting life and normal movements. Then there is the paint goo, the substance of excitement, subject to pseudo-control by the indoctrinated willing hands of painters. This goo is the mess of reality staining itself onto flat empty grounds. It can be molded for ill or for well, depending on the type of manual movements that corral it into coherence. Its dissemination upon the plane in its best-case scenario can provide a mirror onto the mind, an extrapolation of the bodily experience into ideas that flit about like gnats on the causeway. The goo says hi in many forms and is so insolent at times, but innocent, always, you must remember, its failings are your failings, if you are seeking to use it. Useful goo. There is also the goo of insides that I will not mention, for I am feeling too fragile physically. OK maybe I will mention some: your brain is probably gooey, your organs – if you are lucky – are pulsing and sticky. To me these goos are metaphorically and causally related. Pudding is the wonder of my neurochemistry, I am sure.


Recently I came to a place of sickness in relation to my painting practice, where things became too predictable. I was hiding in the slow accumulation of tiny marks, in the repetitive attempts at perfecting them, loving them into existence and creating networks of nuzzling colored forms. The warping wall, the squishing blob, the folding sky were phenomena I tried to cultivate and manipulate and finally I wanted to break away and re-find them through flux and unknowing. Squeezing paint into wet puddles and smearing color with fingers onto stains became the new way to approach painting. Mess became the place where images could be teased out, where form could be divined. Layers of mistakes and failure began to accumulate instead. I began to see the paintings as ruins in a perpetual state of being built and crumbling away, just as perceptual information is both made and unmade before our eyes, disassembled and reassembled. The purposeful marks were not banished entirely but could become tumors on the ruins or provide structure to the eruptions of automatism. I began to allow more of a fluctuation between safety and the psychic horror show of not knowing what’s coming next. The two ways of working allow mutual benefit and illumination and hopefully together create a mutant hybrid space where contradictions can co-exist. This is the space of painting: images follow the logic of the material that make them and can only exist in colored goo, but they can (hopefully) speak to the nature of consciousness.

Some questions I am pondering are: Is it important to add more depictive elements to my paintings? Is it OK if someone tells me one of my paintings looks like hotel art? Does surface abstraction obscure depth? Can decorative elements carry the residue of the evolution of life in the universe? Is it OK to make things glow on purpose? OK to be radiant? Can druids and pop rocks become one on the slab of art history? How much weight do I really need to lose? How do I make the most of every day? In an attempt to offset my ebbing manhood, I am husbanding the planar receptacle to make it fit for long-term viewing capacity. The goal is that you would sit before my large works and become spellbound and flushed with the zeitgeist of a new era that resembles a much older era. It is both a grand and doltish desire.


Listen, the truth is, I am a Spiritual Plumber. More connection to the ground underneath is in order. Take the wormy dirts in your pale fists and squeeze until the squigglers burst. Smear the mess everywhere, on every available surface. This should fix your inner piping. Contact with the divine is possible within hyperactivity. The compulsive urges are allowed to have free reign and the rammy unkempt inner weirdo will bring us the good news from the other side. Have you heard the good news? Even the most exalted spiritual revelations contain debasement, just as every Christian has a deep history with ham and pineapple.

Meaning, frenzy and waste will continue to leak from our holes; orifice confusion is our specialty. Tip: did you know that aside from confusing orifices with each other, they can be confused with household items as well as geological formations? Enter the cave to expand and contract into a better person. Put your mouth on the vacuum cleaner to experience newness. Unfortunately, the ratio of the pulverized self to the desire for wanton melding precludes the ability to immerse fully in the other. The self is merely a loose assemblage of sense data artificially united into an entity that cannot stand up to examination. I am certain the earth is no place for humans. We are able mostly to intuit either dread or ecstasy. We can experience a simultaneous occurrence, a type of excitement, a commotion that swells for a moment and then explodes, disappearing. It is a soothing action but it cannot stay. It is the future of the distant past. We are doomed. But maybe we are not.