Abstract painting in the twentieth century drew great inspiration from music; particularly improvisational jazz. If painting was to survive, the critic Charles Caffin stated, "it must take on something of the quality which is the essence of music - the abstract." Modernism challenged art to explore boundaries beyond the conventions of representation or symbolism. The surface was no longer a mannered statement but a living entity that demanded more from the viewer. It could have rhythm and form, it could be an experience, a happening. Non-objective painting became a path to the unconscious or the primitive creative mind.

Artists from Stuart Davies to Franz Kline and Barnett Newmann became masters of these new realms. As jazz progressed from Duke Ellington to Coleman Hawkins, painters such as Jackson Pollock sought out these influences in an attempt to rid painting of standardized conventions. Today, I sought out these modern painting masters in an attempt to reinvigorate painting for myself. However, I discovered that abstract painting too could run the risk of becoming a standardized convention. Today, news and information travels fast, and the cutting edge of creative thinking is not isolated to a style or a geographic location. This forced me to consider another perspective. Instead of figuring out what to do to a surface, perhaps I could consider what a surface or an image would ask of me or the viewer.

Perhaps painting is an aspect of memory that traces its lineage from one style to another. Modernism rejected Victorian norms, but maybe they are related and exist as a continuum, or parts of a living language with roots that run deep into our collective past. Perhaps the surfaces are alive and contain the myths of a culture as well as an individual. When I look at an old photo, I can see an artifact of the past. The subject knows what we cannot see. At the same time, distortions and time take its toll on the object and the picture gets torn or wrinkled or damaged and then repaired. This is its new life and we know the image with its imperfections. (Maybe this explains the unsparing critiques of the Sistine renovation.)

As I look to my painting dilemma and strive to reinvent my art - several issues come forward. In an attempt to re-create my painting as an abstract art, I have rediscovered the abstract nature of images as well as brushstrokes, gestures, and drips. In order to explore this problem, I also recognize that photography has achieved something very difficult for painting to accomplish - to become an object and an intimate form. Photography has a hold on us so strong that we still consider tearing up a photo akin to destroying its contents. So now I wish to also have a dialog with photography and approach these issues. But how to bridge this with painting and modernism and the current environment? Integrate them all? Improvise? Collaborate? But which modernist do I begin with?

Ever since my interest in art, people have asked if I am related to Jackson Pollock, even the guard at the Guggenheim! Years ago in a group exhibition, a reviewer confused my work with another and accused me of faking my last name! That's who, that's where I'll begin! People see Pollock's work and comment that they could throw paint too (but I am sure that not many have attempted this). Quickly I discovered that it is not as easy as it looks. Easily the work can become overdone and muddied and all to often a gray mess. It really is an aspect of drawing, which involves study and time. My improvisation was born!

But back to the mechanical eye for a moment. The mystery of fixing an image on the surface of a daguerreotype still amazes me. The distortions and scratches hovering on the surfaces of old portraits seemed to defy the space. The images became hybrids and looked like a visitation of a modernist action painting! And if the photo was overexposed and the image lost, was it any more real? Would I tear it up to defy its content? Pollock said, "I am nature". I think he is right.

But now back to painting - all of these elements of abstraction and immateriality seem like musical concerns. So, why not collaborate with an an artist over time and even explore what the notion of a personal style might become. First, I must state each case then allow them to mingle,- to go first, to supercede, to overcome and to eventually become collective. In an age when the spectacle might take precedence and our television images deconstruct themselves in real time, I can't help but think about what it is that defines us? What are my/our current myths, what narratives link us?

Pollock rebelled against convention, but what happens when that act becomes an historical relic? I find myself at a unique time when something old might become new and what is new might be old. (When Gerhard Richter paints abstracts as "classics" and imagery becomes edgy.) It's time to get back to my roots for now,- to connect to my relatives, to look at the masters who believed painting was important, (thanks Uncle Jack!) Its time to reconnect, to collaborate, to loose myself to find myself, to become my own memory, to find out that painting is stronger than me and that we are all aspects of rhythm, time, form and of authentic feeling.

- Don Pollack