This is one of my favorite paintings from Austin, but we must have a conversation about ugly. Just like hate isn’t the opposite of love, ugly isn’t the opposite of beauty. Indifference or invisibility is the opposite of beauty. I love ugly. It evokes a deep empathy in my heart. I may walk past beauty all day, but ugly arrests my attention. It is why we are taught not to stare. I thought this building exquisite in its grotesque essence. Adding insult to injury, it reflects its beautiful sister, St. Mary Cathedral, from across tenth street. I enjoyed discussing art with the state treasury employees as they came and went. I found the color pallet in this piece particularly satisfying.
Martin was one of the managers at Ruta Maya. He was a transparent, good soul that was universally liked. After his shift, he would transition into just another denizen of the shop and join me at my table. His passion was marshal arts. After completing his portrait, I had a blank spot which I asked him to fill. He painted the symbol of fire upside down. This is also tattooed on his body.
I love plazas. We don’t have enough of them. After the seasons of unrest, civil disobedience (war and race), city planners avoided incorporating them. On the campus of U.T. they erected fountains and planters to break up large gathering spaces. I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked to quit a place I was working in. Seems ridiculous but true. I am always conscious of not blocking egress and what is public domain versus private. Usually I set up on public easement. Private security doesn’t generally understand the distinction. Frost security asked me to leave. I refused, explaining I was in a public right of way. Tootsweet, they sent out a groundskeeper with a leaf blower. I secured my stuff and held my ground. Austin police arrived instructing me I was loitering. I protested because I was working and not vending. They agreed and I was allowed to finish my work. The irony was, on the street were banners advertising Frost Bank's sponsorship of a show at the museum. There are many challenges to working on location.
Three minutes later and I got a satisfying painting. Open mic night always presented a challenge. Three songs or ten minutes per artist. I had to be quick. It would take until the next morning to evaluate whether they were “keepers”, or painted over. These were long days. Painting on location outside until 4. Dinner, followed by vying for a seat with lighting to paint until 2am.
The city was full of eye candy. I love the structure of cranes. They were everywhere downtown. From Townlake, it was quite a spectacle. I had easy access living trailside from the park. I was in top form after my European tour. I would spend my days in the field,painting the city, and my nights in the coffee shop, painting her residents. This was an electric period.