Three weeks in Venice is hardly a long time. But, at the start it felt that way. I fooled myself with the illusion was that I'd be there forever—that I was there for good. But, three days later I found myself counting. I was secretly counting the days until the arrival of my sad departure. I shook this diabolical countdown off with a shudder. But, it didn't work. The little clock continued ticking away in my brain and then chimed in again the very next morning.
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They tell me that the past and the future are mere illusions—this is what I am told by the great teachers of wisdom and spirit. I am told that the only thing that we really have is the present moment. The here and now. Yet, the ghosts continue to visit me at the most inopportune times. They are the swirling winds of my past, the floating ghosts of this life that I know.
A return to Venice is like no other sensation. Like any good theatrical event, it's best to plan one's return with some flair. Venice is a city of the sea, given its birth by the briny lagoon. Therefore one should always, always approach her by boat. Any other way is simply not right.
My memory mellows with years. Edges lose their sharpness. Perspective changes. Try going back to your old grammar school or high school and see if the halls are the same as you remember. I'll bet they're much smaller than is the expanse of your memory. Memories are like that. They either become bigger than life or they hide themselves in the recesses of our psyche—as if they were bad kids smoking in the school bathrooms.
A headless rag doll greeted us as we entered the boarding house of an Arizona ghost town. The floorboards, what was left of them, were covered in dirt. On closer inspection it wasn't dirt at all but rather the excrement of a million bats. I'd suddenly had enough of ghosts for one day. I shivered as a jolt went up my spine. I needed some fresh air. I could have sworn that the headless doll snickered at me on my way out. But can a doll snicker without its head? It must have been my imagination.
The confluence of major life events has had my head spinning with a special kind of disorientation. It is hard to keep track of where I've been, where I'm going, and exactly where I am. Contemporary life does not allow us to feel the passing of loved ones, nor appreciate aging and illness. More likely, it merely forces us into task-based activity.
Banks, lawyers, doctors, creditors, insurance agents, advisors, and accountants. Oh my. I dream about them and not in a good way. When someone dies, gets sick, or infirm, it activates an entire industry, like switching on an silent-and-ready, gigantic machine. Those of us left in mere mortal state navigate through the morass, unable to deal with the actuality of loss. There are too many forms to fill.
Several years ago, while studying for my MFA, I realized that photographic images from my past possessed enormous power. Looking through old family albums were like mystical journeys into the unknown. All these souls staring back at me—some I knew, many I didn't. I did the arithmetic. Most were gone now, their once bright and hopeful eyes now just a memory. The old photo albums became a habit. The more I looked, the more I felt. How could tiny snapshots hold such power?
When my friends at Red Door Gallery in Oakland asked me to participate in their July, 2009 show, Shedding, I immediately accepted. Transition and transcendence have always been themes in my photomontage series, Desolation's Comfort. Whenever I'm asked to participate in a themed show, I try to go with the first impressions my imagination brings to me. In the this case, I had in my mind's eye the image of a giant snakeskin having be shed and blowing in the wind. Movement and scale are elements that I've always wanted to play with and incorporate in my prints. I therefore set out to create large banners to be hung from the rafters of the gallery.
Dabbling in artistic discovery eventually drives me back to my more formal work. I can always feel it. At a certain point while drifting down the river I feel the need for structure. I crave a mooring, maybe even some solid land. Desolation's Comfort is a body of work that began with my MFA graduate show in 2007. On and off, I return to it, for it is the work that seems to express my most inner place. Today, I am back again.
I woke up this morning thinking of Venice. It might be that I need to stop working on images late at night. I'm preparing a new online gallery called, *Venetian Ghosts*, not something one should fill one's mind with at bedtime.