Called into this World from the Heavens, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, graphite, crayon, glue and sewing on canvas

43.75 x 32.75 inches

 

From herons to hawks, kinglets to wrens, birds are called into this world from the heavens. Some are improved with colored tops or a musical pipe inside. Some are immune to gravity and float like a hot-air mobile. Some birds are large vessels of gold that date back to the second millennium BC where they sat guard in dark trees and clutched branches with their sharp feet. Scientists recently opened one such bird to find it was also made of copper, lead, asbestos, beryllium, lithium, coal, oil and tin.

 

We see birds everywhere we go. One reason birds are so abundant is they can eat almost anything: plants, dirt, insects, lizards, snakes, other birds, nuts, berries, grains, garbage, blubber, tinfoil, masking tape, plastics, soups, rodents, pets, fish, stones, and sand. Birds can store meals for later in large pockets inside their bodies. They can flip on their backs and swim for long distances. They can whistle a tune. They can brighten a somber winter with a splash of color. Truly birds touch us in unexpected ways.

 

The flights of birds are studied as omens. When we see a bird in flight, we see a doorway. In comparison, human flight is crude and wooden. But do birds really exist in this world? Just because we hear and see them everywhere, doesn’t mean they are really there. Have you ever wondered why we don’t hear birds at night? Where do they go? Over the millennia, birds have developed hard beaks for digging vast underground structures. While we sleep, just inches below us the earth is like a bee’s nest, teeming with birds. All night long they feast on worms and mate with one another.

 

The famous performer, Bing Crosby, once fell through the earth and into a nocturnal bird hive. When he explained what he had seen, people only thought he was seeking popularity for its own sake with his story. And even though he looked unnaturally tired and thin, and was wearing a cheap gold barrette on the left side of his hair to keep the loose dirt from falling into his face, he wore an expensive jeweled one in the back of his hair, shaped like a bird.

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Tom Thayer, Make a Pinch Pot Out of Your Mouth, installation view at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

The Inner House Within the House, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, crayon and sewing on canvas, wood, metal, fabric, modeling compound, cardboard, string, glue and wire

49 x 33 x 4.25 inches

 

The human mind wages war on its body. Like a woodpecker or an elf owl, it lives in an empty hole where it peers out at the world. When we are very young, our mind is more at peace with us. But soon it does not care for us. And by the time we are older it leaves us, exiting its house like a chick breaking out of its shell.

 

Some houses are simply emotional structures. There are no walls, only emotions and a doorway to the inner house within the house. The inner house is constructed of imbedded materials such as fern leaves. It is flooded and its lack of walls indicates a lack of understanding.

Carefully into One's Mind, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, graphite, conte' and sewing on canvas, modeling compound, paper, high-density polyethylene, aluminum, wood, string and wire

25.5 x 18 x 6.5 inches

 

I dressed myself in an elegant downpour of lace and Hellenistic stage shoes. And like some exquisite Victorian antique, I stepped carefully into my mind. It was completely dark inside. I looked like a tablecloth of snowflakes as I moved across the mysterious heavens of my empty head. “It’s dark in here. Perhaps stars will come out to light my way.” I watched, head craned to crown, but no stars came. So I took a needle and made some holes in my dome. “There they are!” Everywhere I have gone in the world, I have seen swallows perched on power lines. My head was no exception. Under the light of my new constellation, birds assembled on a high wire like beads on a string. At night I saw my dreams. Like a collection of Egyptian sickles harvesting corn in the old kingdom, they tirelessly tended to the rubble of my soul. They sang like a whale in an abyss to no one. Their music was no siren’s song. More often it could be taken for a riot among wild animals fighting to the death, or the clamor from some great breeding grounds of a hundred thousand seals shattering the Arctic silence.

The Language of Birds, 2019

oil, acrylic, ink, pigments, graphite, felt, burlap and glue on canvas

68.75 x 54 inches

 

The Language of Birds

The human mind is a pot made of air-dry clay. There are some springtime breezes blowing in there, whirring around, but nothing else. A spring rain came once and left water in someone’s pot, but soon a dog came by and lapped it out. A bird landed in someone’s pot once and sat in there for several days. It would not leave.

 

To communicate with a bird, use a confident voice. For instance, you might say: “My mother, who is dead, came to me and put her arms around me and told me she loved me. I asked her if she knew how much I had always loved her and told her I understand all she did to take care of me.” Stand very still and wait for a reply. The silence may be tense. Your stomach may be a sack of flour with ants inside, but if you stand still, chest out and chin down, the bird will one day reply.

Puppets and Scenery from Scenographic Plays, 2019

mixed media

82 x 100 x 53.5 inches

Standing Figures Used in Conductive Paper Plays, 2019

mixed media

dimensions vary

Standing Figure Used in Conductive Paper Plays, 2019

mixed media

dimensions vary

Standing Figure Used in Conductive Paper Plays, 2019

mixed media

dimensions vary

Standing Figure Used in Conductive Paper Plays, 2019

mixed media

dimensions vary

The Sun Can Read Your Mind, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, graphite, and crayon on canvas, modeling compound, cardboard, wood, yarn, fabric, string and wire

32.5 x 24 x 6.25 inches

 

The sun can read your mind. And this cosmic furnace has an interest in punishing you, so keep your mind still and empty. Even whispers need to be extinguished with precision. Each day, when the sun appears, the night sounds its damp trumpet of discontent. The sun arrives and mocks us. It draws pictures of naked people and builds animals out of garbage and McDonald’s wrappers in the forest. The sun hurts the feelings of the entire world. The sun runs late and lives in a candy covered house in the woods and drinks gasoline and eats mice. The sun is so old that to look for its origins we have to go beyond recorded history. Who took the first picture of the grotesque sun? The sun is as old as theater. What is the sun doing every night? Where does it go? The sun’s face is like a gong. The sun lives in a crumbling salt palace with its mother-in-law. Some say they have become a couple, and others say the sun is slightly lopsided and before it dies, it will become so heavy, a teaspoon full of it will weigh more than Mt. Everest. 

 

When one finds them self in the home of the sun, the workaday tools of the sun will be strewn about. Hot drinks fume on the stove, round reflectors hang on the walls. Your dribbling fever will eat at the palace hinges, quickening its race towards an inevitable collapse. Heaven is there too.

 

But when the sun leaves and the shadows of the forest collide with the sky, the night looses you in its arms. Secretly the sun’s admirers take it down into their burrow at night. The owls and hermit crabs are there. The cold air and humidity is there. All to watch the sun ripen and blossom under ground. They all sit together drinking laundry detergent in the erotic, melting shadows of the sun’s unstable biology. At night, the moon and the earth are left alone together in the darkness. The moon was ripped out of the earth by the sun eons ago when the earth was still wet. It left us the Pacific Ocean. The moon is the earth’s child. The moon pulls at the ocean impulsively. One day it will finally grab hold and pull itself home. The sun will look out from its palace and watch the earth and the moon disintegrate.

The Sun Can Read Your Mind, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, graphite, and crayon on canvas, modeling compound, cardboard, wood, yarn, fabric, string and wire

32.5 x 24 x 6.25 inches

 

The sun can read your mind. And this cosmic furnace has an interest in punishing you, so keep your mind still and empty. Even whispers need to be extinguished with precision. Each day, when the sun appears, the night sounds its damp trumpet of discontent. The sun arrives and mocks us. It draws pictures of naked people and builds animals out of garbage and McDonald’s wrappers in the forest. The sun hurts the feelings of the entire world. The sun runs late and lives in a candy covered house in the woods and drinks gasoline and eats mice. The sun is so old that to look for its origins we have to go beyond recorded history. Who took the first picture of the grotesque sun? The sun is as old as theater. What is the sun doing every night? Where does it go? The sun’s face is like a gong. The sun lives in a crumbling salt palace with its mother-in-law. Some say they have become a couple, and others say the sun is slightly lopsided and before it dies, it will become so heavy, a teaspoon full of it will weigh more than Mt. Everest. 

 

When one finds them self in the home of the sun, the workaday tools of the sun will be strewn about. Hot drinks fume on the stove, round reflectors hang on the walls. Your dribbling fever will eat at the palace hinges, quickening its race towards an inevitable collapse. Heaven is there too.

 

But when the sun leaves and the shadows of the forest collide with the sky, the night looses you in its arms. Secretly the sun’s admirers take it down into their burrow at night. The owls and hermit crabs are there. The cold air and humidity is there. All to watch the sun ripen and blossom under ground. They all sit together drinking laundry detergent in the erotic, melting shadows of the sun’s unstable biology. At night, the moon and the earth are left alone together in the darkness. The moon was ripped out of the earth by the sun eons ago when the earth was still wet. It left us the Pacific Ocean. The moon is the earth’s child. The moon pulls at the ocean impulsively. One day it will finally grab hold and pull itself home. The sun will look out from its palace and watch the earth and the moon disintegrate.

In a Desert, More than Anywhere, the Architecture of One's Mind Stands Revealed, 2019

acrylic, ink, pigments, ash, graphite, and crayon on canvas, modeling compound, paper, high-density polyethylene, wood, string and wire

30.5 x 31.5 x 5 inches

 

In a desert, more than anywhere, the architecture of one’s mind stands revealed. Unlike thoughts in other places, with innumerable forms and foes to focus upon, thoughts in the desert mind land only upon themselves. Their ephemeral flood seeps back into their own parched, cracked existence. In a desert, the quietude of a retreating mind is merely an illusion. Its long slanted shadow sweeps down the sands, drowning in its own unknowns.

Moon Bather, 2019

acrylic, oil, ink, pigments, graphite, crayon and sewing on canvas, metal, modeling compound, paper, high-density polyethylene, string and wire

18.5 x 13.25 x 4 inches

 

It is said universal hungers are few. Still, who among us does not dream hotly of the moon? Moon Bathing has become one of the most popular hobbies in the country. In practical and economical terms, it offers more thrill and excitement than any other: one’s shimmering body amongst the shut wildflowers, bathed in the moonlight of a blue prairie and the smells of a grey horned owl.

 

Having resolved to write about the moon, I collected data on it. My findings were so ill matched to the altitude of my theme, they serve only as a thank offering:

 

Some thousands of years ago a merchant wandering the desert stopped to pour milk from a skin bottle onto a rock. The merchant cast the rock into the sky and the moon was born. The bottle was made of a calf’s stomach. In the heat, its contents had turned to curds. Enfeebled as it is by this story, and all other processed horrors of humanity, the moon still gives its light to us. I do not believe it is made of cheese. I do not. And we do not need to name it. The moon is beyond our understanding.

Moon Bather, 2019

acrylic, oil, ink, pigments, graphite, crayon and sewing on canvas, metal, modeling compound, paper, high-density polyethylene, string and wire

18.5 x 13.25 x 4 inches

 

It is said universal hungers are few. Still, who among us does not dream hotly of the moon? Moon Bathing has become one of the most popular hobbies in the country. In practical and economical terms, it offers more thrill and excitement than any other: one’s shimmering body amongst the shut wildflowers, bathed in the moonlight of a blue prairie and the smells of a grey horned owl.

 

Having resolved to write about the moon, I collected data on it. My findings were so ill matched to the altitude of my theme, they serve only as a thank offering:

 

Some thousands of years ago a merchant wandering the desert stopped to pour milk from a skin bottle onto a rock. The merchant cast the rock into the sky and the moon was born. The bottle was made of a calf’s stomach. In the heat, its contents had turned to curds. Enfeebled as it is by this story, and all other processed horrors of humanity, the moon still gives its light to us. I do not believe it is made of cheese. I do not. And we do not need to name it. The moon is beyond our understanding.

Venus, 2019

acrylic, ink, graphite, and crayon on canvas, wood, modeling compound, paper, tape, string, cardboard, polyester, and wire

58.25 x 30.75 x 7 inches

 

Our next port of call is Venus. If we think the moon has puzzling features, they are nothing compared with those of Earth’s older sister. Venus is believed to have hosted life for over two billion years, but runaway greenhouse effect vaporized its oceans long ago. Today, Venus is veiled in an impenetrable quilt of sulfuric acid. It is the hottest planet in the sky and its dazzling shroud of poison yellow clouds make it the brightest. Poets call Venus the morning star; its original name was Lucifer. By any name, Venus is a harsh and mysterious world, its landscape a wasted red inferno of volcanic mountains where a single day lasts 5,832 hours.

 

When one first comes to Venus, the mind steams and stews with questions: “Am I controlled from forms above?” “Does this stew in my head not taste pleasing to others?” “Is there a face hiding in here, under a potato for instance?” One’s ideas sour into innumerable bogs of stagnant foul perspective. Open your mind. Imagine pouring it into a large saucepan. See your mind swirling before you. Pour 4 cups of vegetable broth into your mind. In the same saucepan, stuff a flamboyant plant. A flamboyant plant is one that is bright, elaborate and draws attention to itself and its surroundings. It is to be used when a bold stroke is needed. Pour the saucepan’s contents back into your head.

Still from Tom Thayer's performance on September 6, 2019 at Derek Eller Gallery, New York

Still from Tom Thayer's performance on September 6, 2019 at Derek Eller Gallery, New York