Friday, July 9, 2010

Journey to the Inside; Day three...

   The two pieces in this blog entry are the last two I did before my TBI in December of 2007.   Like I mentioned in previous entries I despised these pieces until I uncovered their prophetic meaning.   While I made them I was very aware that I was working subconsciously; digging deep much like an archeological excavation of my psyche.  That kind of honest searching doesn't come easy.
    The first one entitled 'The Chaos of Nothing' still hurts when I look at it.  On the left side there is a young woman looking deep into (the viewer's) eyes.  She has a scarf on her head that looks like the colors of a globe.  Below her is the word 'Nothing' and below that there is a compass that when you look inside the word 'Chaos' stares back at you.

    The second layer is a cityscape in black and white with a big white arrow and the words 'direction, forward, move'.  A singular green tree is scrawled into the otherwise colorless cityscape using oil pastels.  Underneath is a big red question mark.  Next to the question mark there is a 'sign here' sticker, (the kind a realtor puts on a contract).   The vintage postcard in the upper right corner with buildings penciled onto it also has written in Mrs. H. M. D.'s beautiful cursive  'We plan now to come straight to you...'   It is postmarked 'Texarkana',  Mar 1938.
    I framed the last six art pieces leading up to my TBI using oak doors because each one metaphorically was an opening to the next phase in my life.   Though this piece is somewhat sane in it's design it speaks to my frustration in searching for an artist community.  (I really wanted to 'sign there' but my tormenting self-doubt stopped me.')   "Why"  I was demanding to know, "isn't there a Milepost 5 in Eugene?".  "How am I supposed to do art when I don't have a community to support me?" 
   I was deeply tormented during this time.  The next piece is the last one I did before I 'went down' for 5 days into a state of heightened electrical brain activity.  (I will never forget the hallucinations I had as I lay there on the floor waiting for someone to discover me before I died.)   In all probability the piece was never completed, although now it would be an 'artistic sin' to alter it.  This piece in particular has a disturbing and chaotic feel to it although the word is not used.

    I have since named it 'Instant Asshole' because those are the words most apparent in the piece.  Though it's difficult to see there is a map of the bay area on the left side of the piece just below the Pop Pop firecracker wrapper (used on a Rickie Lee Jones album cover of the same name).  A creepy doll face is split in half with the definition of insanity typed into the space in between.  There is a Mexican 2000 peso bill with 'run to where this time?' written on it in the lower right corner.
   In the upper right hand corner there is a head shaped balloon that has a square mouth and a small eye releasing a tear drawn onto it.  After my TBI I realized this piece (even more so than the others) was trying to tell me that soon my head would expand out like a balloon and cause massive damage to my brain.
     'The universe' in her loudest voice answered my months of questioning and self doubt by returning me to the state of an infant.  (I didn't even know how to swallow when I regained consciousness, much less walk, talk or tell the time).     
   All of these pieces will be up in my show at 'The Voyeur' on Blair (next to Olive juice) opening the last Friday in August.  I will be posting more art from my photography days and the work I have been doing in the past 3 years while recovering.  Thanks for reading and as always your comments and questions are most welcome.  yona c. riel

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Journey to the Inside: Day two, a roadtrip through the artwork of Yona C. Riel

     Day two of my journey to the inside has me revisiting the same time period (the months leading up to my TBI).   The first piece has the temporary title of 'Ignoring Myself'.  It is a collage using several handwritten fragments, some cut outs, and a lot of oil based pastels which I scratched back into to get to previous layers.  It is mounted onto an oak cabinet door (doors seem particularly relevant for this series of collages.)

      Again there are two entities, one a shadow looking away, the other with red spikes coming from the area of the heart.  I really didn't like this piece when I did it (was I trying to ignore it's blatant message?), but now that I have the benefit of 3 years distance and a radical change in perspective, both the yellow/pink/gray/lime pallet and the subject matter strike me as raw and real, especially when I consider what the piece was trying to say.  Although I drew the four green lines coming out of the right side of the head as hair, after my TBI the meaning of the lines changed to a head about to explode.   It's hard to see in the photo but written where a mouth would be are the words 'my head'.
    The next piece has a similar feel.  The large vacant space between the pieces of the head, the black/white contrast between the hair and the handwritten letter behind it and the numbers from a game of Bingo all indicate a desire to be pointed in (the right) direction.

    The sold tag on the bottom of the figure and the bright red placed around the edges reminds me of the anger I was feeling at the time.  I was yearning for the edge of a city, either Portland or San Fransisco, and the stimulation those cityscapes had to offer me.  I felt trapped in the 'good deal' of a single family dwelling here in Eugene, though I had not lived in one for many years.  It struck me particularly hard during this time period because an artist community I was interested in buying into (Milepost 5 in Portland) was just going on the market.
    That's it for today.  Thanks so much for reading.  I have a few more pieces from this time period to post which I will do once I get them framed and photographed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Journey to the Inside.... a 'road trip' through the art of Yona C. Riel

    Since posting my road trip in April and my 2 week excursion to San Fransisco in June, it is now time to do a different kind of trip.  Instead of talking about everybody else's art I am going to talk about my own, in preparation for my first solo show in a long time on the 27th of August at 'The Voyeur' a new gallery located on Blair between 5th and 6th.
    Going through my art of the last few decades has been like reading a visual autobiography.  Despite my diminished brain capacity I remember precisely what I was thinking/feeling while making most of it and the messages lay there on their substrates whispering secrets to me.  Perhaps this is because the art has not had a chance to 'speak' to anyone else (being locked in a closet for the last few years while I have been recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI)).   Hopefully the show will change all that and the art will morph into it's next life.     
   My intent for this 'journey to the inside' is to post not only pictures of the work in the upcoming show but what was going on for me when I made it.  Also I will attempt to make it linear dividing the art into pre-TBI and post-TBI because it seems to make sense that way.  I want to review one piece a day unless I run out of time, in which case you'll just have to come to the show.
   The first piece was made from a red electrical box found in the debris of a burnt house in Glenwood, Oregon.  I was there with a friend who, like myself, was attracted to the remnants after a fire.  
   Much of my work is untitled as is this piece.  (perhaps my readers will suggest one to me in the comments).   There is a broken bridge (the golden gate) in the lower right hand corner and footsteps walking away from the break.  Two entities are exchanging energy, one named e-yo and one with the word 'spirit' on her forehead.  The inside of the box has been fitted with cedar inserts painted a lime green.  For the outside of the box I sanded out most of the red and painted it black.  Then I went back in with stamps and covered the surface with white and red letters and question marks.
   In the upper left hand corner there is a scribble of confusion.  The singular spring (cut from the box spring of a couch found in the debris) serves to warp the three lines of communication between the two entities further by spiraling through them.
   At the time I made the piece I was feeling distant from myself.  So much so that I really couldn't even hear what the spirit part of me had to say.  This is the first of several pieces made during the months leading up to my injury that represent (for me) the beginning of my confused state.  I think this piece was completed about 8 months prior to 'the TBI event'.  It measures approximately 5" deep by 10" wide and 12" tall.  If you want to see it 'live' come to my show at The Voyeur on Blair St. the last Friday in August.  If you want to help me name it leave a comment here on the blog.  Thanks for reading.  Yona C. Riel