The very first time I ever saw it was in 2005. The way that Las Vegas glows, hundreds of miles off in the distance of the pitch-black 15 freeway. I’m sure not many people move to Las Vegas to clean up and figure out what to do with whatever life is left but that’s been my experience. Finding the light within the empty speed and pitch black of a dark desert highway. So many people have told me there is nothing out there but for me, in those dark open spaces with just the wind - is where I have felt and transformed the most.
When I had three years clean to the day I bought a white 2012 Ford Mustang.The fact that they would even finance me such a thing was a good omen that I was on the right track. The make, model, and color of the car were sentimental to me. I always imagined I’d write this great novel and in that novel the very last page would be me, in my white mustang, driving through the desert. I would be healthy, free, and aware of the level of freedom the knowledge of the story had given me. “Wild Horses” by Grahm Parsons would be playing, and I would decide that maybe I hadn’t lost so much after all.
That day I set off to Sedona from Las Vegas in my brand new car, my two dachshunds riding shotgun. In Kingman, I stopped for gas and panicked for 45 minutes with a bunch of strangers trying to help me find the button to pop the gas tank. Hilarious, as the car doesn’t have a button at all. As the sun was setting I kept telling myself. “This is the moment you will write about. This is the part where everything comes together and you leave it all behind.” And in that pressure, I was not able to feel what I had always imagined I would. In fact, I never got onto the next freeway and I got really lost. After five hours of driving, I went to a Jack in the Box in Phoenix. The hounds and I each had a cheeseburger. We decided to turn around and go home. So true to form the more pressure I put on the ideal the more stress there is for a specific outcome, and in that perfect storm the freedom never comes.
I have had my white mustang, lovingly referred to as Starlight, for ten years now. She is my white horse who I have driven tens of thousands of hours of dark desert highways with. Just me, her and the angels that haven’t ever left me, listening to the Eagles with all the windows down, hair whipping in the wind.
Driving a white mustang too fast down a dark desert highway as it still manages to glimmer with all the windows down and Hotel California (the live version, MTV 1994, very important) on full volume is exactly what it feels like to die and leave my body. The miracle of suddenly understanding everything and being suspended in ecstatic motion, if even for an instant.
This painting is a portrait of the illumination of that freedom. The white car. The black sky. The soft glow in the far distance and the sparkle of anything being possible all around that glow. I’ve written and ended that great novel a few times - but the real work lately is in letting the whole story go and using the art to simply express all of the contrasts of frequency I have experienced.
Just like hearing Hotel California on a dark desert highway and feeling like a composed, focused storm of emotions colliding with wild freedom - this painting is a silent metaphor of what it means to read and transform light, the absence of light, wind, and motion.