Tom McIntire (He/Him)
Reared on the East Coast of the United States, I have lived in the Desert Southwest but have spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest. Travels to Mexico, Canada and Europe have broadened my concepts of home, garden, city and countryside. I have delved into the interplay of interior elements with formal studies of feng shui in a Black Hat sect Buddhist context. Place resonates with me, in actual perception, theoretical musings, and in the random aspects projected into our dreams, and in how it reshapes our strange bodies.
I am a painter who delves into real and imagined experience at the intersection of the natural and built worlds, and how humans navigate this precipice. Our yearning for the natural environment can turn us to art, films and photographs for shadows of the true outdoors experience or spaces purely of the mind. I struggle to reconcile my desire to feel the sun on my face as I squint against its glare; I try to capture its wondrous light in a phone pic and post it so others can look at it on their phones and like me. The sun soothes me and gave me cancer. Twice.
Growing up on Long Island in a development bulldozed into farmland that had plowed over scrub pine, wild juniper and grassland, we lived close to Long Island Sound, and were never far from the Atlantic Ocean. My understanding of nature was the squirrel and the jay on the wire, the horseshoe crab on the jetty, and the salty waves breaking near the boardwalk of Jones Beach. I moved to Tucson in my early 20s, embracing the desert and mountains. I went tubing on a rushing, bafflingly named Salt River that nearly drowned me my first time out. A hike around a low mountain pass revealed more stars than I thought could possibly exist, much less be glittering in the sky above me. While recovering from a head injury several years ago, I spent a summer observing the crows, hummingbirds and squirrels from our deck making their lives in the green spaces between our built structures. On a large or small scale, there is always more to see, experience and share; these images crowd my mind, jockeying for attention across time and distance. The animals bring order to the chaos for me. These feelings are difficult to convey but I attempt to do so in my work.
The idyll of the creatures and plants stumble into the city’s built environment— the cracks in the sidewalk, a greenbelt, a parking strip, an overgrown backyard —places where nature twists naked upon a clothed idea of a human environment. The real wild places are foreign to me, a shy towhead boy from the suburbs now an aging gray gay man from the city, who walks beneath the canopy of trees in the city park and marvels at the herons and gulls and crows that inhabit a false gate to Eden. They bring me joy but I wonder what stories they would tell about us, their bad bad neighbors.