There is a special intimate gallery in our town, known as the Swoope Gallery. The Swoope brings in guest artists and, as an added attraction, each guest artist gives a talk. This year one particularly reticent artist talked after the exhibition of his minimalist drawings done with pure pigment rubbed on paper.
I was struck by the spark in Robert Croker and his pigment smears. He expressed reluctance, bordering on balking, at the notion of speaking to the small crowd. But perhaps he just protested too much, because in the end he entertained us with smooth and assured story-telling. He even sang a song and presented us with a decision making tool that I can highly recommend.
Robert Croker claimed to make his decisions with the toss of a coin. One’s first reaction to that boast is to think he might be getting senile. Worse still, he went on the explain he might not take the path indicated by the toss. In fact, Mr. Croker uses the coin toss to test his own visceral reaction to the choice. He must assess himself: Does he feel affirmed by the result, or disappointed? Does the choice excite him, or fill him with dread? Does he embrace the result, or does he gravitate to the choice counter-indicated by the result?
Whatever he puts on the scales to measure simply forces him to have a reaction, clarifying his own position in the process. A solution as equally elegant as his art.
Portrait of Richard Olsen, 1972
Charcoal on paper
26 1/8 x 40 1/16 inches
Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia; Gift of Ronald and Nancy Lukasiewicz, Athens, Georgia