Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tony Pace's School of Driving and Life: Where does art start. part 2

Have you ever experienced driving under an elevated subway, elevated rail line, or roadway? The flashing of light and shadow is like watching an old movie that has a strobe effect. That's where art comes from. Before you were the driver, you were the passenger, the one who could put their face against the window or out the window and look up at the flashing of light and shadow. In my case it was when my grandfather Tony drove.
Driving and hangin with Tony. That's where my art started: the love of cars and movement. Of course I didn't know it then. In a previous post I talked about some of the things I remembered about those hours that have coalesced into moments. Fragments much like a collage.

Some additional thoughts about Tony and the things he did that I try to capture in the collage pieces I create. I do not try to capture them in a literal way but in a way that is random like moments that flash by. Like an Ed Ruscha painting. Fragments of words pieces of imagery (some humorous) and alot that you are left to decipher. Rather than pinpoint those random events or surreal moments, I will list what has come to mind about what strange and wonderful things my grandfather did.

Always beep your horn under a bridge or overpass, don't worry about the other drivers trying to figure out what the hell some mad man is honking at. Its the act and each time saying hey cheech (this pre Cheech and Chong) listen,
like I couldn't hear it or didn't know what was coming.
If you see a cat on the side of the street roll down your window and make the sound of another cat screeching, as best you can. Tony had this down. The best was the reaction of the cat. Even better if you could combine this and the bridge scenario.

Stopping to help almost anyone who was broken down on the side of the road. This act of kindness by Tony was amazing. He was a great mechanic. Also Cars in the 50s, 60s ans 70s were allot easier to work on and fix. He would stop when he was alone or with my grandmother and aunt, or me and my siblings. He would stop even if he was going to be late to something. This did not always sit well with the passengers but the People he helped were so grateful . This may be a hard option today for many reasons some are its hard to judge what is safe and its hard to fix cars.

Some non-driving related things worth noting. Always have fireworks for July 4th and make sure to blow them up even if it is illegal. Then proceed to the local municipality's fireworks display and enjoy. Be sure to add some crazed narration about colors and size.

If you like dogs like my grandfather, you should always have some type of treat for your favorite dog pals with you. The treats Tony had on hand were caramel candies. Dog loved these things, although dogs love all food. This was a good treat because of its size, easy to have around and kids like them too.

This set of thoughts on my grandfather Tony and the ones from the earlier post about him may be a great starting point for anyone who would like to be known as an eccentric and entertaining grandfather.
Have a great 4th of July, and blow off some fireworks of your own. Tony would appreciate that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Move Over, I'll Drive: New Collage

Speed is of the essence. Move over, I'll Drive is the name of the collage. By me driving you will be able to press your face against the window and see all that you would miss if you had to drive. In addition it allows me to stomp the accelerator and reach speeds that will set off all the photo radar cameras we pass adding to the light show. One other thing: having you distracted by the flashing lights from the cameras, you won't see me ducking so as not to have my picture taken by them. Safety is not relevant in a collage. Or in art.
There are some close ups of this piece and It should give you an idea of why it took some time to complete.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Hundred Miles From Anywhere: Almost There.

"Quality is Quantity. The quality of an art object is directly proportional to the quantity of something that it gives to someone who belongs to some constituency of interest" to quote Dave Hickey. This is a thought that has been rolling around in my dome while I work on this piece. I have found that as these collages progress there has been a determination on my part to place as much visual information in them as to capture the act of smashing the side of your face against the window of a car moving at speeds that would be considered reckless. A lifetime of driving in one moment. The result should be a visual that is revisited because you are always seeing something new that you missed at a previous viewing. This is what Peter Frank said about these collages in his review of my show in Venice, California at Gebert Gallery "They seem more immediately connected than ever, both to the experience of seeing things zip by and to the hyper-distortion that results from trying to record such experience through a lens". Here are some shots from last week. This piece is almost finished.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tony Pace's School of Driving and Life: Where does art start.

The guy holding my sisters hand in this picture from 1961 is partially responsible for the work I do. He never taught art. He sold cars. My maternal grandfather, Tony. I spent more time driving with him than anybody else before I learned to drive. As you would expect cars were the deal, driving to get cars, going to see cars, being in car lots, sitting in the car waiting, and going to Jerome Ave in the Bronx NY where the greatest concentration of wholesale car dealers in the Northeast was located. These days spent with Tony were an eye opener for a kid.

Some examples of the entertainment were opening the glove box to find a handgun, that by the way only shot blanks according to my grandfather. Watching guys with rolling tool boxes whose profession it was to help diminish the mileage on some of the cars being bought. Other fellas who were handy with a hot iron used to re-burn tread in a tire that had very little (not recommended).
Other activities might include reading the NY Daily News race track results to find out what numbers came up. Going to visit the local bookie to place your bets. That could be going to the corner grocery type store. I was always amazed that they had some of the most unexpected products, toasters, blenders and vacuum's for example. Little did I know these products arrived at these establishments because they had been scammed by guys (those guys) who committed credit card fraud at department stores. In those days credit card purchases were only checked by phone if they were over a certain amount. These purchases did not warrant a phone check.
Time with my grandfather was like being part of scenes from Goodfellas that were not violent. I know there weren't many non-violent scenes in the movie, but there were some.
Cars fast and big was a good thing as you can see from the image. How many people today roll in gear like he is wearing. A caddy was nice.

Showing up at my home with a Dodge Super Bee (basically a Road Runner hemi) making sure we
knew he, my grandmother, and aunt arrived by some engine revving and tire squealing. Once parked he would inquire who wanted to go for a drive. This drive was not sanctioned for adult consumption. The neighborhood kids were invited. When we would leave the street it was accompanied by burning some rubber, to the delight of the passengers and dismay of adult onlookers.

These memories are part of why I make art about moving, driving and remembering.
There is more to how this influences the way I make my collages. The Tony story to be continued in another post.