Genuflect by Gordy Grundy
March 2005; Issue No. 73


I had painted myself into a corner. Rather, in a painterly way, I had 'fallen but couldn't get up.' A dark cloud had rendered my easel idle. It's been over five weeks since a brush has touched a canvas. As artists and seekers know, one occasionally hits a dead end. Sometimes too much thought does not allow for maneuvering and you can't find your way out of a cul-de-sac. I had gotten lost, and in frustration I was beating my head against the wall.

I like to be self-sufficient; I thought I could solve the painting problem myself. In all honesty, I was just being polite. I rarely talk about my work. I know that anytime an artist starts talking about their work, my eyes glaze over and the head starts to nod. I really couldn't bare the cruelty of doing that to someone else.

The painting problem persisted with no solution in sight. Finally, after endless self-flagellating torture, I realized I needed help. It was time for a studio visit.

My pal, painter Alan Wayne came over. He is a Minimalist and I have always appreciated his counsel. He looked at the last three pieces and made a few comments. His pronouncement acted like Draino. The clogged pipes began to flow. I realized that I had instinctively turned what should be a simple image into a painterly discourse. That's why the bright colors were becoming muddy and the bold lines had turned into cowardly hesitations. The paintings were deviating from their original intention. I had gotten lost.

Problem was solved. A weight had lifted from my shoulders. I was free once again.

Liberated, I showed Alan a new piece, a conceptual work that does not use paint as a medium. He liked it. He encouraged more. Then he laughed and said, "With this, you can't call yourself a painter. You're an artist."

My head started to ache. I could feel another Art Issue coming on. I've always called myself a painter. I've never seen myself in any other way. I don't want to be an artist. Should I destroy the new work and stay a painter? Do I accept the new identity and change the monogram on my towels? I don't know.
Just when you think you've got all of your Art Issues lined up, there's always one making a fucking issue.

GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary works can be found at