The globalization of casino culture looms terrifyingly ascendant—economically, environmentally, and politically. The twenty first century’s diminishing resources and despoiled environment have triggered seismic global shifts that privilege the bare-knuckles strongman paradigm of the winner takes all created by a self-perpetuating elite caste of mega winners while transforming everyone else into an increasingly desperate sea of losers. How did the world turn upside down so quickly while we weren’t paying much attention?
Truth has been systematically delinked from power, obscured by a shrill barrage of gossip, paranoia, and wishful thinking. It becomes increasingly urgent to examine how serious discussion of all aspects of this global crisis are being thwarted by this hailstorm of distraction. As a figurative painter, I work with the tools I have, observation and analysis distilled in paint.
As every aspect of accepted norms in American life has come under siege, it is urgent to really look at where we are, and what’s actually going on behind the smoke and mirrors, so that we can find new paths out of the apocalyptic trajectory we are being swept along before it is too late. In painting casinos, I reflect on the psychological freight of the man-made world and its virtual web doppelganger, contemplating the social structuring of fear and desire in a world where the familiar has grown uncannily strange and frightening. My aim is to pull the unnoticed, the unquestioned background “room tone” of daily life, into the foreground, to provide space for reflection on the usually unquestioned substrates of our lives.
I am a child of immigrant outsiders. Growing up I studied Americanness to try to fit in. I have continued this cultural surveillance in paint, foraging through images of our shifting landscape to gather visual evidence, reframing the iconic into distilled images. My goal is to create a sorely needed contemplative space for examination of the web of embedded values and assumptions underpinning our apocalyptic present. I seek to capture undramatic pivot points in the mutating cultural parameters of our polyglot nation. As a literalist by nature, I aim to establish some baseline of recognizable shared facts, as I perceive them, in this increasingly unstable and untruthful world.
How do the physical and the conceptual constructs of our present shape the parameters of our lived experiences? I focus on the unremarkable ubiquitous structures designed and selected by small groups of mostly white men in private offices that form the backdrop to our lives, virtually as well as IRL (in real life.). I zoom out to high vantage points to focus on overviews, where the tangled superstructures and infrastructures of city streets, throughways, fun parks, and casinos’ labyrinths reveal the overlapping vortex of systems haphazardly intersecting, channeling our hunger for at least an illusion of transcendence. Then I zoom back in to focus on individuals struggling to hold a place in the unforgiving glare of urban sprawl.
The architecture of distraction camouflaging glossy rigged systems that now dominate our lives operated originally as brick-and-mortar entertainment zones with their attendant pickpockets, crackpots, and humbug salesmen. These now infest the digital labyrinth 24/7 with endless detours, robotic spam pop-ups, and unhinged tweet storms. We all get tangled up in the web’s overload, too often coming to our senses at the keyboard struggling to recall what we sat down to research in the first place before we got sidetracked into watching cute cats, with no time to calm down from the latest hysteria of social media outrages.
Identity politics has splintered the public and the art world into a prism of -isms, each hermetically locked into ranting in chorus and trolling viciously anyone who dares to share another view. I was formed in the heady polyglot nexus of 1980s New York City, where club and street culture, uptown and down town, intertwined. I continue to believe in the strengths of a culture where the whole spectrum of gender, color, culture, and class share in creating a synergy of energy and ideas. I’m hungry to learn what people who are not like me in places that are not like mine have to offer, even when their observations present uncomfortable truths I’d rather not hear. We need to reach beyond our tribal units because left unexamined we wallow in the hopeless solipsism of unchecked subjectivity.
I paint what I fear: macho realms, Times Square, Las Vegas, strip clubs, demo derbies, highways, and garages, the unwelcoming, often dangerous, “man’s” world. The challenges of being a woman, operating in male domains where I rarely “belong,” agitating for respect and resources beyond what I’m usually offered, has shaped my personality and my work. I have shared intimate observations of the male other to the discomfort of many men.
I have been doubling back, the trajectory of my work now spiraling as the world and I change, the present becoming history. I am readdressing earlier subjects from new perspectives with new insights and new materials. I am certain that if there is salvation for our nation it lies in that dynamic of sharing resources and dialogue across niche divisions. I am committed to documenting what I recognize of my “self” across a wide array of “others” and listening to how others perceive me, offering these observations to the present debate over the terms of our survival.
Many thanks to Jim Blasi for preliminary graphic design.