We can all look at the same thing and see something different. We can stand under a single row of power lines that gape against the sky, right on the edge of the desert, and some of us will see an ending: The end of city pavement, a last row of homes set as a bulwark against an open, windswept emptiness. Or we can see a beginning of things, a playground for things imagined and real, the first bars of a song that will take us somewhere we’ve never been.
We can, if we’re Julius Eastman, even see a continuity between these spaces.
In a solo show opening Saturday at Sagebrush Café, you can see Eastman’s vision, see the world through his creative lens. In his paintings the landscape is both subject and object, it’s a pliant and, you could say, mental thing – so it includes the dollar and the raven on equal terms. A rebel music seems to pulse with psychedelic-street sounds, and symbols maintain a power that Eastman seems to both feed and resist.
You could call it cultural landscaping, because it seems like Eastman is contemplating a way to negotiate the line between sacred and secular, but doing it in the tones of popular culture; taking, in his way, a black and white world and rendering it in color.
To me, one message in Eastman’s art is this: The things you are made of and the things you make are superimposed on one another. We live in a material world. There is a sense that we create with the materials of that material world and, by necessity, we have to find a way to use these elements so that we can see through them, past them, and reach a higher place. Metaphorically, we are always standing on the edge of the desert, the dividing line between the elevated and the mundane.
Maybe it will happen for you, like it happens for me, and when you look at the work Eastman is producing you will think of Bob Marley’s opening lines, “There’s a Natural Mystic blowing through the air. Listen carefully and you will hear.”
Julius Eastman’s show “The Art of Julius Eastman” opens on Saturday at Sagebrush Café.
THE ART OF JULIUS EASTMAN
Saturday, February 18
42014 50th Street West
Julius Eastman is an artist, DJ, dad and creative force living in California’s Antelope Valley. He has been actively showing his work, appearing at MOAH, the Modern Tea House, and working with the Art Around group in Lancaster. Some of his recent projects include the POWWOW public art initiative, where Eastman was one of twelve local artists selected to create a mural in downtown Lancaster.