Impressions of an Art Insider

I had some friends over last night to watch a movie, drink some beer and share a few laughs. Like most mature 50-somethings, we chose X-Men: First Class, which we own courtesy of Nate. Nate buys nearly all of our superhero movies and, as a completist, provides us with a fairly comprehensive library of Marvel epics.

One of my pals, Doug Miller, is a partner in a fossil digging enterprise, Green River Stone Company ( and has an artistic eye. He loves Nate’s work and marvels (again with the marvel) at his prolificacy. When the film was over, Doug lingered to walk the faux-gallery that is the two rooms that Nate has taken over with his art.

Doug explained to me how much of art is in the editing and Nate’s enormous volume of work allows for a possible curator to pick the gems. He pointed out the difference between some of Nate’s shopping center drawings (featured in the last post) and the choices that Nate made in terms of detail and perspective. I’d never really thought of it with such seriousness, but I should have. I know Nate is very particular about specifics – the angle, the image, the focus, the color – of anything he creates or photographs (not that taking pictures isn’t creating). There’s very little that’s truly random in his mind. It all connects, though, at times, it’s a mystery how.

Turning to a long sheet of “toilaroids,” Doug analyzed the images. The differing points of view within a single document, the reasons behind a frontal shot of a singular urinal paired with a bank of three. How the images align to form a coherent whole. Man, by the end of this I was really convinced that Nate was an undiscovered artist of high quality. Maybe that’s overstating it, but I was impressed that Nate’s work lent itself to, and held up under, close scrutiny.

I was more amazed when Doug spotted a single sheet of paper and noted how the taped section provided a textural contrast.

“I think he just taped over a mistake.” I should have known better. The tape was heavy, beyond Nate’s usual use of the sticky stuff as a mock laminate. I reached down and, to my shock, Nate had created a before and after flip scene. It was a hallway at Waukegan University, which doesn’t exist. What does exist is University Center of Lake County at Waukegan, where a friend of ours attends. Perhaps she told Nate about a renovation, or he looked it up. Either way, he’s never been there but made something so rich in detail that you’d never know.  This kid, he always surprises.

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So, anyone out there have any gallery ideas? It’s a good promotion: autistic kid, who succeeds beyond all expectations, enrolls and thrives in college, and turns out to be a high-end artist with a specialty in presenting modern commercial life in a new light. Plus, he can churn out material like a machine. And don’t worry, he is without pretense and thoroughly enjoys gift shops.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to Impressions of an Art Insider

  1. Pingback: Walking Through Nate’s Gallery | Mission of Complex: Our Journey Through Hyperlexia

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