Paintings for hotels

I don’t know how I fell in to this gig. I did one, and I thought it was easy and dumb, then I did another, I guess. I thought it was beneath me, and I felt like a prostitute. I wanted to do installations, I wanted to be Julian Schnabel, I wanted to craft visual reactions to avant requiems, I wanted to write graphic novels. Instead, I was churning out seagrass with a rotted pier in the background. Birches and deer. Broken pottery in the foreground, behind, a pueblo. An animal and a thing, or a thing and a place, or all three. Wolves in the pines. Wolves in the snow. Wolves in the pines in the snow. Wolves everywhere. Why do I keep getting commissions for wolves? Are there hotels just for weirdos that I don’t know about?

Okay, so it’s not Goya. It’s not a grand reaction to the awful, violent world we live in, of ISIS beheadings and no-knock warrants and drone strikes and Honey Boo-Boo. It’s not fantastic, it’s just there, and I guess it’s better than not being there, like Jennifer Anniston’s character in Office Space. That’s my specialty-paintings that are just there. In hotels, in terminals, in hospital waiting areas, in conference rooms. Paintings that watch people not looking at them, watching people pick their nose and sob in frustration and watch infomercials when they’d rather talk to real people. It’s not deeply satisfying, but it pays the bills.

I started to put things in to see if anyone would notice. A broken bottle in a rose garden, cigarette butts in a desert landscape, dead birds. No one did. Why was I working to create visual art people just looked through?

So I started painting what I felt like painting. There’s a Red Roof Inn near Albuquerque that thinks it decorated itself in southwestern generica, but it’s scenes from Dune. There’s a motel on a military base with a painting of antique books, all of them The Marx-Engels Reader.

I don’t hate my job, it beats lifting heavy things. I make fake paintings for fake temporary houses where people pick their noses and don’t clean up after themselves. It’s all fake, and I get paid real money to keep it that way.


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