May 12, 2009

Rita Ackermann's Texas diary

As part of the Artist-in-Residence program at The Chinati Foundation, Rita Ackermann packed her bags, headed to Texas and chronicled her adventures with gun smugglers, drug lords and a dog named Mouse for BlackBook.

"I only brought with me one drawing to work on. It has a cave painting–like simplicity to it, showing bodies caught in provocative, violent movements. Mixing the urban primitive with nature’s brutishness, I befriended a man named Ty, an outlaw gun smuggler and El Salvadoran war veteran. A slashed-faced, broken-boned, 7-foot-tall cowboy, Ty has royal style and grace. He is the archetype of cool, the last American gentleman. He lives outside of the rules, as does the painter Christopher Wool, who has a studio down here. One day, the three of us drove around together in Ty’s pickup truck, Christopher sitting in the back next to the giant guns and the beer cooler, me in the front with Ty’s tiny black dog named Mouse. We shared an instant connection, despite our clashing backgrounds, while Ty told us stories about Mexican drug lord Pablo Acosta (his former boss), being bothered by border patrol and bandits, and explained that, in the end, gun size settles most disputes.

"It’s on this afternoon that I’ve decided to write this diary. I love driving and have an obsession with wrecked and crashed cars, with their chipped paint and the scratch marks on their metal bodies. These, to me, are beautiful paintings. And there are a lot of them here, blending into the landscape, bleeding into the wilderness and taken apart in backyards. The backyards here scream freedom. Nothing is thrown away; it’s never tidied. Everything is allowed—even games of tic-tac-toe using spray-paint on the walls—which is really what art should be about: freedom." Read more.

Check out Ackerman's images of Marfa.

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