by Greg Shattenberg
Marks, my father’s carved blocks leave marks. Marks on paper. Stare at
them and search for meaning. Search for a meaning that speaks to life.
The blocks are not perfect. They leave imperfect marks. That can be
fixed. Make a perfect context. Purchase a perfect context. Then the
marks are all right. What do they need to speak of in this perfect
world? They can convey the unspoken, they can talk of liberation.
Demonstrate the boundless.
These crooked lines call to be touched. Smudged. Rubbed and felt. Senses
as restrained now as they always have been. How is another touched.
There is nothing to be fixed. Nice neutral paper. Stacked in a pile. The
neutrality is a relief. All senses can be invested in the blocks, in
the paper, making something containing a content, triggering a content,
more than it is. More than a piece of paper. More than ever was there
between my father and me. We keep our constraint. Maybe it is
contentment. Knowing that something is there is enough. Everything does
not need to be saturated with passion.
So the blocks sit and the papers sit. Tools. Objects to be manipulated.
An arbitrary deck of given pictures. Not demanding anything, but
irresistible in how much can be thrown into them. There is really little
to fathom. A step up from arbitrary.
I now want art. Not knowing how to make it, it will have to be stolen. A
bit of license, a bit of larceny and off to the races. Separate enough
to be manipulated. Close enough to sense some risk. A bit unpredictable
and the formula is in place. And no one is there to take back pieces
which may not have been given. It is a search for order. Take and give.
Hope for cumulative sense. Hope that the relief felt is not cumulative
meaninglessness. Relief because it is a place which will not have to be
The press gets adjusted. The senses are recurring. Variations in paper
thickness can be felt. Sometimes the ink lies down perfectly. Sometimes,
without thinking, each part goes together as exactly as can be
expected, and the colors talk to each other. The ink is saying yes, and
the block prints. Little investments in thought staring back invisibly,
being cumulative. A bit of language becomes a voice. My own voice is
interjected. As imperfect as the blocks and something is heard. No, it
is seen. No, it is felt and hopefully there is a song.
copyright 2009 by Greg Shattenberg
Greg Shattenberg is an artist residing in West Paris, Maine.