I spent a whole lot of time here in Mercer’s shop. It was an old barn building in town where the local men gathered to have coffee and fix things. There was always a needed part somewhere in the shop and someone who could fix things. It seemed that way to me.
I loved the signs he posted around. Mercer and the men who spent time here and at the corner store inspired some of my undergraduate work and all of my graduate work. It was all about knowing where you belong, feeling connected through the familiar. The men loaned me tools to make marks and let me ink their hands to mark into my artist books. They gave me rags they used in the shop and carried in their trucks to use as biographical marks of who they were in books and sculptures.
I have kept most of the pieces that I made. The artist books especially. It is still hard to not be tempted to pick up some rusty old tool and bring it home. The history of that tool, the man who wore it out fixing things, the feel of it in the hand are hard for me to pass by.
I wrote poems, short stories, made sculptures and artist books about the men. And it was very hard to be critical of my work as an artist. Actually it was impossible. The artwork was just too much about them and I saw them in every piece, so much so that looking too closely was uncomfortable for me and objectionable if others did it. Some time later I will post other images. I will take new photos of the artist books and talk more about the men who gave me their time, tools and patience to see what I would do next.