The old ascetic was born on April 7th, 1940 in Boise, Idaho and was mostly raised by his two older sisters. His passion for the arts was inspired by their talents; one would specialize in sculpture while the other would become a photographer. He enrolled in Reed College in Oregon and obtained a graduate degree in Art History. Immediately after graduating, he began teaching at Reed.
During a heated argument with student Richard Biggs, the old ascetic lampooned the pop art style of Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Cans” (1962). Biggs accused him of being close-minded, daring him to produce an artwork of similar fame. Incensed by the affront, the old ascetic resigned his post after a couple of months, fearing his prime years of producing art were limited.
- Alyeska, Alaska
1968 - 2015
He traveled to the wilderness north of Alyeska, Alaska to work on his own masterpiece. Having studied the minds of the greatest artists of the past century, he believed a naturalistic setting would maximize his creative output. James, a retired fisherman, would routinely bring him supplies from the town. His familiarity with wilderness areas and survival techniques inspired the old ascetic to become as self-sufficient as possible. Wandering throughout the forest, he would aimlessly search for inspiration.
As the years passed, his anxiety grew. Realizing the ridicule he’d have to endure if he’d returned empty-handed, he tripled his efforts to strengthen his relationship with nature. He believed the purer his ascetic ways, the more likely he’d be struck with an idea. Surely, he reasoned, that his motivations and intentions were enough to create a work of acclaim? Increasingly deranged, he severed contact with James when the fisherman suggested he revisit family, about three decades into his reclusion.
In the fall of 2015, Alyeska residents noted a frail, haggard-looking old man knocking on doors, asking for the whereabouts of “James.” Upon learning that his friend has passed away, the old ascetic finally ended his quest and flew from Anchorage to Los Angeles.
- Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in Los Angeles
The modern elements of Alyeska were subtle and contrasted with drastic changes in technology he’d observed while on the flight. Intrigued, he purchased a smartphone to document his own findings upon arriving at Los Angeles and traveled to the Arts district, exploring the city life surrounding the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel museum.
The printed photos, his journal, other memorabilia from the museum were found abandoned at a bus stop, suggesting he’d finally gained a peace of mind, reconciliation with his past, and a new appreciation for art and culture.
Ice. Sludge. Unending. Soaked. Tremors. The abhorrity... it is perfect. Torture to the body and mind will allow the heart and the hands to take flight.
The land: solid. The beasts: volatile. Mind: open. Heart: flowing. Hands: restless. Eye sees the break of the door, what lies dormant within it beyond grasp.
Sitting amidst the fallen white. Caribou yearn for more than lichen laden. I, for more than what my mind can feel, what my heart can imagine.
The birds sing again tonight.
Bastard! A rotten fool. That slimed bass knows nothing. How dare he? Meet with the witches, dine with the wolves. Drown in self pity. I need no-one.
Night falls. The birds sing, piercing my skull with their cheerful exuberance. They no longer fear my potential, should they? Are their melodies a harbinger? Will I fall?
- 2016 I
Happened upon the fringes of a strange encounter on my return. Beauty v. Beast. Is there some connection the consoles of the same color palette within?
- 2016 II
Peering through the slots of the numerals. I’ve stumbled on a hub of brightly colored computer consoles. The purpose? Technicians balance work and drink with the bar off to the side. The range of the modern workspace is dynamic.
- 2016 III
L is a “7.” Why... t is a “3.” Why... What is this inconvenient jargon?
- 2016 IV
Planets. A symbol. A maze? The crypticness of the streets continues to allude me.
- 2016 V
To find what I seek I will venture.
To revel in the masses.
To realize myself through them.
To flight. To the city.