Setting up shop back home in Cincinnati for awhile and I was fortunate recently to visit a wonderful, vibrant gallery on Main Street with my friend Jennifer who has shown there regularly for many years. Art Beyond Boundaries is a beehive of creative flow run by the esteemed photographer, Jymi Bolden. I was very happy to meet him and show him a stack of my finished prints. He was very close friends with the man whose work first inspired me to pick up the chisels back in the mid 90s and start carving: Thom Shaw. Good friends from childhood they were and Jymi has Shaw’s work on permanent display on the upper deck and in the inner sanctums of the gallery.
One of the images on display is a beautiful, classic Thom Shaw self portrait. Stark, voluminous, wide and spacious black and white, a solid solitary figure marching slightly off center. Peg leg, a growling countenance, walking as though you could see and feel his limping gait. In one hand he’s carrying an R’Crumb magazine - triumphantly, almost heroically! There is curly shape like the wood that curls from the chisel and falls off the block … placed meticulously yet viewed as happenstance … on the top of his shoe … of the leftover foot. That little curl, this picture made me so inexplicably happy. How could I be this happy? … facing straight on an image of a man very endeared to me already … in perpetual pain from prolonged illnesses and clearly afflicted and suffering? I don’t know. It’s a beautiful thing to me. I get to feel at home in front of it. You just … as my beloved drawing teacher, Mary Shea used to say, herself quoting Vincent … “Love what you love.”
I love this man’s ability to confront you right where it hurts, where it matters. His way of tapping you on the shoulder when you try to look away, to make you feel what he feels right with him. There’s a current and charge there, a bolt of magnets, sparks, crisp and wanton energy like the war-weary Germans who had no choice but to spill the unabashed truth of their lives on the canvas and block in a certain desperation and compulsion which demanded the simplest and most intelligent craft. I love the man’s power to BE the power that reckons with the higher AND the lower forces, that rattles all the cages, to be the TRUTH and the self-appointed catalyst for change. That IS Love. That’s ‘Love what you love’ - universal. That’s Ex Voto.
Visiting Jymi’s gallery with my ol’ buddy Jennifer helped me remember why home is always home, why my home is real, unique and special and why it’s good to be back for awhile. He selected three prints of mine for the upcoming annual holiday show: “CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: HARMONY” It opens November 30th. Art Beyond Boundaries Gallery. 1410 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202