Colton BrockI am Colton James Brock and I am a third generation Arizona Native. Both of my parents are natives my father’s father was born in Clifton, Arizona in 1923 and my mother’s father was born in Buckeye, Arizona in 1932. I feel most at home in the desert; the heat, mountainous topography, plant life and fiery skies all contribute to the mood of my works. Growing up skateboarding in Phoenix has naturally lead to an affinity for unnatural landscapes, my paintings often simply being an extension of that attraction, which constantly lures me out into various urban centers.

Upon entering the older parts of a city, one notices subtle changes, not only in environment, but also in mood. The old cities contrast with the encroaching newness of mass-produced lifestyles and leap frog development. One can sense the atmosphere and personality of the people and structures sheering against impending progress. In this place character and quality have broad foundations, the type of which cause old men to say such cliché’s as, “they don’t build em’ like that anymore” In these places the roots of the past run deep and the smell of history seeps from every pore of the urine stained marble and every minute crack in the time worn, newsprint riddled sidewalks. In this place humanity can still be found to be connected in the shade of tall structures and under a shadowy drapery of telephone and electric wires.

In the tradition of great photographers such as Garry Winogrand, Bill Owens, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Russell Lee and Dorothy Lang (and many, many others); photography has the ability to move through the realm of journalism/historical documentation into the sphere of artistic social theory. My love of photography begins with the notion that with a certain understanding a photographer has the capability of using the camera not only to capture an image of the world, but also a sort of anecdote or narrative, present just below the surface. Often times these undertones will appear in the shape of subtle irony, tragedy and/or comedy; making for a perfect, yet slight criticism, captured solely due to the photographer’s timing and eye. Winogrand remarked that photography is not about the world, but about the world photographed. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time behind a camera understands that the world and the world photographed can be very different. The understanding of this theory, I believe, is precisely what places the photographer in the right place and the right time, as it were; and the sub sequential capturing of these charged undertones, these poignant moments is the force that these pieces utilize in transcending the realm from purely documentary to art object. One realizes that being in the right place, at the right time, is every place at any time, if you are seeing things correctly. Many of the paintings that I make can be considered celebrations of the physical landscapes themselves, as well as, the photograph(s) that were made of them. Some photographs are used as surrogates for plain air objective reference, while other images are mimicked precisely for their photographic imperfections.

While each city I visit, shoot and explore encompass their own unique characteristics regarding physical and aesthetic attributes; the more one travels, the more one notices just how similar they, in fact, are. That is really what these cities (small and large, alike) are- locations containing only slightly varying sights, smells, colors, temperatures and atmospheres, which cannot be truly conveyed in a more generic landscape depiction. One must decipher how to rightfully convey the message or meaning of the landscape. This can be done by drawing from personal memories and emotions, and subsequently conveying those ideas through color, composition, subject matter, and so forth. The process is always subjective, even if my finished product is striving for an objective appearance. This also ties in a lot to working from drawings and photographs, as opposed to the real thing (which would not be possible in many circumstances). The photograph is useful in assisting my memory in the technical aspects of these jumbled metropolitan messes, as opposed to spending months on sight such as Rackstraw Downes or Antonio Lopez Garcia (two of my favorites). And as illustrator Robert Crumb once said of these wire and light filled claustrophobic spaces, “You can’t make this stuff up.” The word “landscape” and “portrait” are truly interchangeable. When you paint a place, you paint its portrait, just as when you paint a nude or a face, you are very much painting a landscape The ultimate goal for me in making a painting is to render what I see, connect with viewer through his or her own memories, and through these memories forge a relationship.

As works existing largely in the realm of the visual (painting, photography, sculpture etc.), a successful cocktail strives for balance, continuity and complimentary elements. In the end, it boils- no, reduces- down to finding that composition that works the best. Furthermore, researching and understanding the respective histories of the mediums, all while keeping current on contemporary works of other craftsmen, persistently reminds one of the proximity of these duel universes.

Mixing pigment on a pallet is much the same as mixing flavor in a glass intended for ones palate. Just as colors can be salty or sweet, flavors come both dull and vibrant. Furthermore; texture, opacity and saturation play a roll in both flavors and color. I dare say this applies to music, culinary, film, writing or anything else involving one of our five senses (perfume?), but I digress.