my early work is influenced by the social and political landscape
of the u.s. and mexico border region. the sharp contrast of
north and south, spanish and english, rich and poor coexisting
at the borderline creates a friction. this friction of two
diverse cultures is most evident in my hometown san diego
and neighboring tijuana to the south. my paintings capture
the unique subculture of the border region that is a result
of the collision of two cultures. border culture and the cross-fertilization
of influences (ideas, language, mythology, aesthetics) continue
to evolve and change.
in the late eighties i discovered the writings
of j.b. jackson which helped to clarify my own observations
about how landscape and culture are interconnected. before
reading jackson, my paintings already utilized garden design
influences; particularly with a reliance on a bird's eye view--a
geometric compositional grid--and i used the road as primary
subject matter. his insights helped me to interpret the landscape
not merely as scenery outside ourselves, but that humans are
integral to landscape and beauty. his essays address how landscape
seen from above reveals patterns and human organization. the
road, jackson argues, has become more than just a metaphor
for life's journey, but it is increasingly where most of us
live out the majority of our lives. he coined the term "vernacular
landscape" to describe how contemporary landscape is shaped
and molded by the regional needs and desires of its temporary
occupants. it was a revelation for me to realize that every
landscape—forest, river or mountain—is a work
of the mind, a repository for the memories and obsessions
of the people who gaze upon it. when once asked to define
himself and his work, jackson declared, "i see things very
clearly, and i rely on what i see . . . and i see things that
other people don't see, and i call their attention to it."
in my own attempt to reveal how our surroundings reflect
our culture, i rely on humor to communicate my artistic vision.
contrary to the dour dryness of much contemporary art, my
paintings are fun, entertaining, busy and dense with sensation
and burlesque humor. i want to represent my personal vision
of the spectacle of life in this time and place and express
it in my own perspective. to study the relationship between
man and environment, my paintings examine culture in context.
increasingly, the boundaries are blurred between pop culture,
subculture and mass culture. in this hazy area i find clarity.
within the larger grid of mass culture exists a smaller grid
of many subcultures. and within the smaller grid of subcultures
exists the individual. the grid example helps to illustrate
the individual versus the mass, or the microcosm and the macrocosm,
but we have all experienced the unnerving sensation of being
totally alone in a crowd. each of us in our own search for
meaning struggles to connect to someone or something outside
ourselves. this is the journey on the road to self-discovery.
in this uncharted territory, my paintings explore the nature
of culture. my paintings are fun, even if what we ultimately
discover about ourselves within them is disheartening, embarrassing
or something altogether unexpected.