Ron picks me up from the Western Blue Line Stop and tells me about his day working on a mock trial. We arrive at the Garfield Park apartment he’s lived in for 9 years (also home to his and Leo Kaplan’s exhibition space, The Hills Esthetic Center). Several black and white paintings are hung on the walls, while more are stacked on the floor and even more are loosely categorized inside a set of racks on the level above accessible via ladder.
The paintings look like a bullet points. So textual.
Ron: “In this hyper-textual society we use vision in an increasingly different way, we read and file so many things now as signs rather than temporal, unprocessed impressions.”
Ron finds images, he google searches with them, draws them, combines them and recombines them. It seems this process could happen ad infinitum. Two of the paintings in his studio are of an interior/exterior space, illustrated and printed on a door hanger he found on the street. Another is a “sketch” of a woman’s face inside of/on top of/within a French press. He pulls another from the racks with an image of a man wearing a Bob Marley shirt that he sourced from Hot Topic’s website. Success is found at a formal level, and the conditions change not when some resolve is found, but when Ron changes the conditions. Saying he prefers it that way, this scattering, Ron quotes the lawyer from the mock trial earlier that day, “Some information answers questions and other information simply raises more questions rather than answer anything specifically.”
These paintings were not the paintings he shipped to Johannes Vogt Gallery for Time Flies Like A Banana, a recent opening with Greg Ito and Josh Reames. Ron explains that these paintings find their place when installed. The woman with a coffee pot is hung flush to (and therefore the image is interrupted by) a perpendicular wall. Often installed on unfinished walls, sometimes painted bright colors (yellow for Time Flies), the unfinished nature of the walls pushes the artifice already present in his paintings. The casual imagery replicated with ease looks stiff (he traces them using a projector). The paintings are gesso on cotton (black gesso on unprimed white cotton). His marks appear to be drawn with marker (painted using a single brush for each painting, chopped down to a stiff bristly nub).
Me: Where is the color?
Ron: “In the last year,” (as he brings out some earlier paintings when he was using green and orange to placate me), “I’ve reduced my palette for painting to black on white. I insert color for exhibition using objects, painted walls and painted stud-walls. For me, color is too complex. It quickly can become too emotive, seductive or entertaining. I prefer the bold, confounding/mesmerizing graphic image/object, or painting/drawing.”
Me: When is the last time you cried?
[At this point I realize I’m horrible at interviewing people. I can’t believe I’m asking these questions. They’re terrible and I would be incredibly annoyed if I got these questions from anyone…but I guess I’m trying to figure out where his emotions are, and from that where my emotions can be.]
We watch a video of Soft Machine performing “A Certain Kind.”
What’s in your bag right now?
I don’t even have a bag right now… Everything is in my studio. Outside of it, I might have a small notebook and a 4-color pen, and my phone of course.