Untitled, 1979 acrylic on canvas 10”x10”

Painted in my second year at Bard College. I was trying to figure out a way of making a painting that felt “authentic”, and at the same time was very excited about the work or people like Joe Zucker, Nicholas Africano, Valerie Jaudon and Hollis Sigler. Basically anyone that Holly Solomon was showing at the time.

This ended up leading me in two directions: In the immediate sense I started making panting/constructions that increasingly relied on the built up brushstroke and gel medium/rhoplex to make surfaces that were thick and torturous. Years later, in 1995, I began making small, 9”x12” stripe paintings on board. They were received  with some consternation when I showed them in San Francisco. 

Two pages from a sketchbook, 1975

Installation View from Matthew Marks Gallery 1997, including “Mopes Line” 

Untitled Sculpture 2005

Started looking through old photos and sketchbooks. This particular one, from when I was 15, was clearly influenced by Claes Oldenberg’s “Notes in Hand” book. Lot’s of ideas for floppy overstuffed things, some small collages and some declarative statements about “environmental art”. Aside from the sad spelling, I noticed that I ended up making some things not unlike these pieces with my “Mopes” pieces from the mid 90’s and again in a sculpture from 2005. Ideas keep cycling around.


Nayland Blake

Lap Dog, 1986

leather shoes, brass plates, chains

12 x 12 x 4”

One of the first pieces I made after deciding to abandon making installations for a while and returning to sculpture. The shoes were a pair that I wore for over a year and a half, purchased at an Army/Navy store on Market Street. So there’s fetishism, and an early examination of bondage and humiliation here. It’s a piece that marks the wearer and hobbles them.

The other part that is pleasurable about making things is pure problem solving: how with my limited skills, to connect the chains to the shoes? 

This was shown in my first show in Media Gallery in San Francisco: a South of Market Space run by Patricia Davidson


Peers/Influences: Nayland Blake. “Untitled (3 Black Boards)”, 1988. Mixed media, 24 x 36” each. Installed in the exhibition “Against Nature: A Show by Homosexual Men”, LACE - Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, 1988.

ref.: Sister Slade’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer”, 1979.

Image courtesy of LACE - Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.

Thanks to David Evans Frantz of the ONE Archives, Los Angeles.

I haven’t seen this piece in over twenty years. “Against Nature” was one of the most important shows I was ever in.

Nayland Blake takes over Matthew Marks’ 22nd Street exhibition space with humorous assemblage and found-object sculptures. The small presentation, reveals Blake’s interest in crafting a narrative through overlooked objects and subversive content. Blake searches for discarded identities and brings them to the forefront of his work. What Wont Wreng is on view through April 20th 2013 at Matthew Marks, 502 West 22nd Street, New York. Photo and text Juliana Balestin 

Production Still from Hare Follies 1997 presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

From a commissioned performance.  This is a moment from the middle section, called “Blood” which used dialog from a number of sources including “Blacula”.  I’m performing with Patricia Hoffbauer, and designed the sets and costumes. 

In truth this whole piece was a tribute to/rip off of Richard Foreman’s plays, and Kathy Acker’s novels. The script is a collaged text that attempts to talk about the realities of race and desire by stitching together stuff like “The Turner Diaries” and lyrics from Yellowman.  

Subordinate Clauses 1991 bird’s nests, aluminum, steel and wood. dimensions variable

Made this in the frenzy of work around the 90-91 period.  In part I was transitioning out of my restraint pieces and into the bouquet pieces that used much more delicate materials. Looking at this now I feel like it takes a lot from Jannis Kounellis.  One of the small group of pieces I showed at Mary Boone’s gallery in ‘91.