The shortest distance between two coasts is a wonky line.

sights-1

Playwrights say that if a gun appears on stage, somebody will use it before the curtain falls. Photographers say that the best camera is the one you have with you. The New York Lottery says “You gotta be in it to win it.”

I just spent ten days in a car with a journal on my lap.  As  result, I did a lot of drawing. Not that drawing in a car is ideal. I am prey to carsickness so jolting highways and juddering views are usually not the ideal environment for the delicate stomach of my muse. Nonetheless, as I looked out the windshield four thousand miles, I was constantly drawn to draw.

Aphorists say when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And as I spent my whole day with a pen lightly gripped in my hand, everything looked like a drawing. The only effort required to start a drawing was to shrug off the cap and, whenever I wasn’t at the helm, I seized every excuse to draw (thank you, Tommy Kane).

sights-2

The unfolding miles inspired me to use the pen which in turn defined the journey we were on. I saw connections between things, I saw unusual shapes, I saw common things suddenly looking very uncommon. I was hyperaware of the light, of the weather, of the ravages of time. Holding a pen can be like donning polarizing sunglasses, sharpening everything in your field of vision.

Now I am back on terra firma, I want to hold on to that urge and habit. To keep recording all the days that pass under my feet, to keep seeing even the most familiar landscape with the fresh eyes and open mind of a traveler.

Lost in the giftshop

tokyo bikes

Tokyobike store, right off the Bowery, NYC.

Is art about owning?

Is the mere act of looking somehow acquisitive? As predators, when we look at something, we are tracking it, stalking it. “Just looking” can actually be an act of aggression. Is drawing even more invasive? Why do we worry that people will resent us for drawing them on the subway? We all know the cliché of the primitive societies that feared that cameras would steal their souls. When we do a good drawing, why do people say “you’ve really captured it”?

Is drawing also stealing?

Why does every single museum have a gift shop? Why do we feel drawn to shop in them?

When we have just seen the originals, why do we want postcards, tea mugs, coffee table books of the same images?

Why do people walk through museums snapping photos of every piece on the wall? Are they just adding them to their own collections?

Are museums themselves just giant closets full of acquisitions on display?

Much of the history of art has dictated by those who would own the art, the clients, the patrons.  They set the theme, dictated many of the choices for the artist.

Museums are filled with portraits of the rich and powerful. The artists didn’t choose these subjects by chance, the market dictated them. And they have survived because their various owners preserved them. The pieces that were most valuable have become what we call ‘art history’. So buying and selling and choices about importance are all bound up together.

Can art be valuable — if it’s never bought or sold?

Further on down the road

The final leg of our cross-country drive.  4,000 miles, 10 days, loads of eating, driving, drawing, and fun. Click on any picture to see the gallery. Or you can follow me on instagram: dannyobadiah.

Images from the road.

We are driving from LA to NYC.  I’ll post pictures from the trip here. Click on any picture to see the gallery.

Or you can follow me on instagram: dannyobadiah.

Farewell.

photo 2 copyI finished cleaning out my studio today, this old garage in which I’ve I spent much of the last eleven months. I felt a bit melancholy as I swept it out and locked the door for good.

I came here last autumn not knowing what I was doing or what might become of me, but I felt I needed a place to do it in. And I’ve done quite a bit between these three walls. I picked up a brush again and made forty feet of paintings. I wrote and illustrated a book. And started another. I wrote, shot, and edited films in here. I read books. I thought. I napped. photo 1 copy

And we started Sketchbook Skool out of this garage, like real West Coast entrepreneurs. Maybe they’ll put up a plaque.

And now, concrete and wood, it’s going back to being a garage again. But me, I’m not going back to what I was. IMG_7924

Jenny and I are hitting the road today. We’re heading eastward on what was Route 66. Don’t know how long we’ll take to get back to New York. A week, two, whatevs. I’ll try to keep you reasonably updated.  Follow us on  Instagram: dannnyobadiah

Life story.

corners n curves

Tonight I was thinking about the story of my life. The story that began when I was born and then certain things happened. My parents did certain things, my family was a certain way, we lived in a certain place, I went to certain schools. That was my childhood. In some ways, it was like other people’s childhoods but in other ways it wasn’t. But it was the only childhood that I had.

And then I had my teen years. My adolescence was, what five or six years of my life. They were pretty important years, even though I don’t actually remember that much about them. I remember the first time I kissed a girl, the first time I drank so much I threw up on the subway, the first time I was in a play.

These were all important events in my life. But they were one-time events and I will never have them again. All these events were difficult to judge and put into context at the time. Things happened that seemed incredibly important at the time but now I don’t remember them at all. Whereas other things that seemed trivial have remained with me for decades since.

What I was thinking about tonight was, I guess, this finite quality of my life. Not death, the end, but just the whole arc of my life. Right now I am at a certain point in my life. It feels like it’s probably the middle of my life but I don’t know that for sure — I could be a day away from the end. But assuming it is the middle of my life, I can’t necessarily look at it and see how everything that has preceded it has led to this point. It feels sort of like progress but also somewhat random.

Looking back at those events in the past that had either a significant impact on me or were completely forgettable, I’m struck by the fact that they are so difficult to assess. I look at things that were clearly watersheds, like getting married, having a kid, losing a loved one, but all those events turned out to have a different meaning than I thought they would have the time. It’s just proved impossible to chart the course of my life or even understand it as it unfolds.

So I could look at this very moment, sitting here, a certain point in the summer, when certain events have happened or changes took place, and I can imagine that I could look back on this time and see it for something or other, but right now I have no idea what that is.

The only meaningful way to look at your life is twofold. On one hand, this big sweeping story: I was born, I lived my life, and then it ended. Or the minuscule: one day at a time, one hour at a time, putting down the events of each day in my journal, I ate this for lunch, I talked about that with my friend, I bought new tires, I discovered a lump, I found five dollars on the street. I can’t tell whether it matters, or why, or how much, I can only live through it. And thinking about the big picture reminds me that this is the only time that I will have today, and because I don’t know what role or purpose today will hand I should try to live it fully.

Perhaps this is all just a trite observation. But tonight it struck me that my life is like a TV show and I can pause it and see how much time has passed in the episode so far, but I can’t tell how much time is left. I can look back on what has happened in the episode so far but I can’t change any of it. And what is to come may or may not have as much excitement or laughs as what has transpired so far but I plan to watch the rest of it regardless.

When I look back at what has happened so far, it’s again that feeling that that was my one childhood, that was my one adolescence, that was my one first job, and that’s it. It can make life seem fleeting but it can also show the importance of each one of these sections, including the section I’m in now. And when I think about the uniqueness of this period I’m going through, it makes me want to get the most out of it, to not take it for granted but to live it deeply, richly, cause this is the one I have. ‘One Life to live’, so I guess in the end, yes, the conclusion is trite. But somehow, tonight, that didn’t make It any less true or less important to think about.

Oh, and I know my blog looks different, You’ll get used to it. So will I.