Six years ago I started the blog Thoughts That Cure Radically. The format of the blog was straightforward. Every week I would visit art exhibitions in New York City and write a review of about a page or a page and a half about the show. The exhibitions could be in either galleries or museums and could be any medium but I habitually gravitated towards painting. In the three years I wrote the blog I wrote about one hundred and forty reviews and also a scattering of catalogue essays, interviews and book reviews. For a number of reasons, however, I stopped writing for Thoughts, some being working as a teacher and also the birth of our two daughters.
While the demands of a full time job plus fatherhood weren’t the sole reason to stop writing and painting, they gave me a ready-made excuse to stop something that had become a struggle. The richness I felt for my family was not matched in my creative life. Painting, and writing about painting, had once been the cornerstone of my identity. Yet by the time I stopped they had become to me a parlor game or fodder for a marketing campaign with myself as the product.
Instead of working through these feelings I stopped painting and writing altogether. I stopped looking at art, talking with artists or thinking about art. I no longer thought of my life as a creative project. Instead, I was a father, husband, teacher and friend, someone who was trying to make a life for themselves without needing to create an extra layer of artistic production to justify myself. In the time away from art I developed new interests and passions. I developed an interest in urban farming, composting, food justice and environmental activism. I became in a small way involved with the Bernie Sanders campaign, trying to get residents in my Queens community motivated to vote.
Being responsible for my family, however, extends my responsibility to the wider world. To care for a child is to care for food justice, is to care for the environment, is to care for politics. And to care for the world is to need creativity and also, I discovered, to need art. Currently we are living through a profound series of crises; political crises, environmental crises, economic crises and cultural crises. These crises demand commitment and courage and people who engage the world with passion and focus in their ultimate hope of a better society. My belief is that art is not “out there” solely in the art world, politics is not “out there” solely in Washington, but located right here in my community and every day life. Instead of being a consumable product, art can be political by being an engine for change in today’s world.
My art practice, and the purpose of this new Thoughts That Cure Radically, is to engage in these issues, issues of creativity and justice and purpose in today’s world, with honesty and passion. The purpose of my writings is to discover how art and political change can happen by me in my community. I hope in these forthcoming writings about art, culture, the environment and politics that I can discover what I believe and discover what matters to me. My hope is that any discovery I make for myself will help you discover something about yourself; that my work can be in any way large or small a gift to you the reader.