Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lost in the Desert

Today marks the first anniversary of the theft of Rusty Scruby's art work.  Quin Mathews and his crew at QMFILMS has told the story beautifully and I've attached the video above.  Rusty also has the story in his own words on his website. Both of these tellings of the events of January 10, 2011, the day and the week starting with that day, were recorded as soon as we returned home from LA on January 25, 2011.
Rusty's next exhibition was scheduled for March 12, 2011 in Miami at PanAmerican ArtProjects. Rusty had originally planned a new body of work for PanAm, but after the theft he decided to recreate some of the artworks that had been stolen and had never been seen by anyone but me and a few people in the Angel View Thrift Mart. Janda Wetherington, director of PanAmerican ArtProjects, gave Rusty a third 'project' gallery space to tell a visual story of the theft.  This was a cathartic project for Rusty:

Quin Mathews' film was projected on one wall of the PanAm Project gallery

Rusty installed images and recovered but ruined art works on the oppisite walls.

The installation took several days to print all of the images that Rusty then took several days to pin up on the two walls.  He had recovered Thanksgiving but it had a hole punched in it by an unknown source rendering it unsellable. Rusty used this piece and recreated one of the possible scenarios he imagined as the cause of the hole by pushing a broken stretcher frame through the hole to present in the installation. On the adjacent wall, Rusty pinned up dual images, one on top of the other.  The base image is an interior shot of the thrift store.  The outer image is a picture of the Angel View Thrift Mart as seen from across the street.  Rusty employed an oscillating fan on a stand to create wind that caused the outer images to lift and reveal the base image underneath.  This action represented a variety of stream of conscious thoughts. The desert winds eroding objects in the harsh elements. The temporal nature of art once it is released from the studio. The hidden truths of the seemingly shady business conducted at the Angel View Thrift Mart as well as by the many local police and sherrif departments that Rusty had to deal with in Palm Desert, Indio, and Palm Springs.  It also represented Rusty's fears and feeling of loss of control over the situation and his stolen art.
Since the theft, people have repeatedly asked Rusty questions such as "how will this change or inform your work?".  It will take longer than this one year to fully realize an accurate answer to these questions.  Grief over the loss of a loved one or one's work and livelihood can take years to heal, and grief continues to manifest in both positive as well as negative ways. I will say, however, that the work that Rusty created for his December show at Cris Worley Fine Art was a fresh realization of his knitted/woven photographs.  He used circles instead of the hexagons, squares, and rhomboids employed in the works stolen and the works recreated and shown at PanAmerican ArtProjects.  Also, the work at CWFA was not mounted on stretcher frames, instead it hung loosely in the way that tapestries are hung. In addition, Rusty acquired some wool yarn just before Christmas and pulled out all of his knitting needles and began re-exploring various knitting techniques.  He is allowing this process to inform his thoughts and ideas toward realizing fresh concepts and techniques for future works of fine art.

For myself, the theft came on the heals of my losing my job and career of the previous thirty-three years.  This blog has been one of my responses to those losses.  This blog has also been a means for me to stay busy, maintain my pc skills, and expound beyond my technical wirting skills.  Plus it allows me to talk about one of my favorite subjects - contemporary visual art and the people that create it.

Today marks the end of our official mourning period.  Together we are moving forward.  And to end, I use one of my favorite Friedrich Nietzche quotes:
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

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