Yours, Daniel
Art is attentiveness and exploration

Hi Friend,

When you were over and asked that question of me, as I showed you and M_ my basement workshops, I did not know how to answer you, but I've been thinking of it ever since. I wanted to say something to it. Do you remember? You asked why there were receipts glued to my wall.


I'm not joking. I'm trying to come out of the closet more and more about being an artist and about what that means. And I think we two have a joint concern here, so I wanted to kind of open or continue a conversation that seems to be going on between us.

Art for me is not about judgment or even communication. Art is attentiveness and exploration. I've always done this but only slowly have I gathered the support in words of others, such as the artist David Ireland whose work I saw in Oakland, California a couple of weeks ago. I've always gathered the stuff of my daily life, which is a first step: I've used this stuff as material from which to create art, in large part because that's what's around and in large part I realize now because I'm studying my own life and so the material stuff of my own life helps in that process. Secondly, I gather it without an idea of how I will use it but generally some use for it comes to mind as I spend enough time gathering the stuff of my life and spending time with it, and indeed doing that display and arrangement which allows me to meditate upon the stuff of my life. So I thought to gather the receipts, and then I thought to put them up on the wall, and then I thought to make them a permanent part of my house rather than on an object, such as a piece of wood that could be hung on the wall or a rocking chair, which also occurred to me and which I might yet still do, though I don't know why and, I know now, won't know why until I'm doing it. This is a piece that is still unfinished. It is in process. So I don't know what it will become. I realize now that being an artist for me is not worrying about what something will become. That's not my concern. I'm concerned with becoming. Once something becomes I have to let it go and keep on with the other becoming stuff. I'm realizing now that I need to make this receipt sculpture more 3D, so I think I'm going to purposefully start crumpling and mounding it out from the wall.

This is how art happens for me, and for this to happen I have to suspend judgment about what I'm doing -- because I don't know when I start or as I go along -- and depend (as in sink down upon, rest my attention upon) the gathering, the attentiveness, the play, and the exploration of the materials of my life.

You may be able to sense my certain defensiveness about this. It's something I'm shy about, particularly with folks who are struggling with judgment about art that may come from our society, so filled with judgment and ranking and fashion and being other than one is, or even from an art education which teaches so much about the history of art and how it has been done and all kinds of other things, other than encountering oneself. I don't want to hear about how I'm weird. I've heard that all my life and I'm just beginning to realize how wonderful these weird practices are, how they lead me and others around me (who I might think of as my audience) into observation, and into the simplicity and truth which many, including Quakers, treasure.

I hope to make more and more of my life like this. It seems to be happening. It seems to be happening all over this house as it has already all over my boat, my van, my motorcycle, and other sculptural pieces in my life.

I suspect you like it too. I see you doing the same kind of gathering, arranging and delighting. So perhaps we can be good friends to each other in this life of artistry, eh? Although I also think I see you struggle with the Weirdness Judgment as I do, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to start a therapy group to process all of that. I just want to have more and more safe spaces in which to explore in fun.

So that's what the receipts on the wall are. That's what more and more of the stuff in my house is: art; projects; becoming. The stuff of my life being gathered, being framed, becoming speaking.