After lockdown, It’s hard picking up the pieces after taking a year off from writing on this site.
As lockdown set in, I spent my last morsels of cash from some last minute stretcher jobs on paint, made a couple grocery store runs with a friend to stock up on month or more of food and supplies, luckily finding enough pasta and dry goods to comfortably put my mind at ease for a few months.
Armed with eighteen years of experience living a spartan lifestyle and largely working from home without bosses, co-workers or most importantly, commutes, in some ways quarantine felt like something I was training for the bulk of my adult life. I looked at the situation of an entire world hitting the pause button as an opportunity to live and work stress free without deadlines, students, expectations and the lure of worldly time draining excesses.
What to Do During A Lockdown
Sure I was worried about my family, friends and the worldwide deaths mounting on a daily basis. The uncertainty didn’t bother me. What a relief it was to have my phone on airplane mode and the world at arm’s length for months. Everything was going swimmingly until two things forced me to shut out the outside world even more: Shakespeare and Tiger King.
Soon, so many think pieces started popping up in publications online about all the work that Shakespeare produced during the plague. This was enough bullshit for me. 98% of the world will never attempt to create anything near art and the 2% that are never need to be compared to that line of bullshit thinking.
And then there was Tiger King. Everybody was talking about it, so I checked out a couple episodes (I don;’t think they were in order, if they were, it’s even more damning) but if I was going to be in lockdown and all the world was going to be obsessed with the minutia of a classless Jerry Springer redneck reality show of this magnitude, I was out.
And I was out.
I always remember a quote from a philosophy teacher in college. He was talking about the joy he experienced watching Ruby in Paradise
, about a woman living a dead end existence with a shitty boyfriend who picks up one day and starts all over far away, My professor could barely contain his joy as he leaned forward in his chair and scanned the room, looking each of his 18 year old students directly in the eye and saying, “When you gotta go, go! Fuck the world!”
As somebody who lived in three states before the age of six, and forced to settle in the most unagreeable state in the union through high school, before running off 1200 miles to college, this was a philosophy that I already held close to my heart. So, fuck the world, so it goes.
The only rule I made for myself during quarantine was not to put any pressure on my self to produce something great. My goal was to imitate the 1930’s WPA, and just stay busy creating work during lockdown. It wasn’t easy at first, and I took a month or two to soak in the new world around me, taking in long walks and an occasional socially distanced porch beer at a neighbor’s place.
Soon though, the world would catch on fire in a different way, with police rioting across the country beating down and attacking protesters across the country. I spent a late night in my basement woodshop making some large stretchers and started to make some new work. With a new muse in place, my work started to flow. My muse didn’t let me down. Politicians, paranoid ‘freedom loving’ death cultists and racist Q loving enthusiasts provided a slew of ideas.
And so I spent 2020 sketching, drawing, and painting the worst dregs of America. On the front facade of Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum is a quote that says, “True painting is only an image of the perfection of God”. It’s such an overblown, saccharine sentiment the likes of which America seems to revel in more and more each year. I came to believe that current paintings were the true face of America, and it was fucking ugly.
During lockdown, the vocal stylings of Kathleen Hanna and her side project, the oft forgotten Le Tigre were appreciated: