Rochester Contemporary’s annual 6×6 Show has afforded me the opportunity to push the boundaries of one idea for five years now. Revisiting that idea each year, probing it for new life or attempting to reduce it further.
I pictured a simple block, something with a third dimension to it, something like those painted toy building blocks we had when we were kids. Years ago we helped our friends, Pete and Shelley, finish the roof of their Adirondack home and I fell in love the rough-cut pine boards they were using. They came from a local saw mill they gave us a few. I went out to the garage to cut them into 6 by 6 inch pieces but the boards I found they weren’t wide enough. So I put two pieces together, ripping the boards in a pleasing proportion, leaving the rough cut exposed when possible and glueing them together.
They are awkward to hang. I ask that be hung in a specific order and hope they don’t wind up being separated when the show is hung. The first year I painted the two boards a different color, three colors for the four pieces, all straight from the tube. The second year I toyed with leaving the wood unpainted altogether as the the two pieces were different tones but I chickened out. I let the natural wood show and only used two colors.
Year three I reduced the palette to one color. I ripped the boards in three inch widths this time and painted either a square within the square piece or the space surrounding the square. I played with black and white for the forth year but decided the white would not hold its own on a white wall so went to this silvery color. If they hadn’t sold each year I would have moved on. This year I pushed it and left the blocks au natural. After a few days I decided to strengthen the dark portion of each piece by coating it with a quick drying oil.
Finally, I went to the Rochester Contemporary website to see if they had reduced the number of submissions per artist as I heard they might. Sure enough they are only accepting three this year so I have a lonely block.