The relatively unknown abstract expressionist painter and filmmaker Charles Nelson Blinkerton (see above for more!) was proud to call Jackson Pollock his friend. Blinkerton studied with famous regionalist and fellow Missourian Thomas Hart Benton at the Kansas City Art Institute in the 1930s. He met the contemporary Pollock, former Benton student himself, while accompanying the regionalist to NYC in 1939. So taken was he with the career possibilities in the world’s largest city at the time that in the 1940s he took up residence first in NYC itself, and then later on at Springs, New York after Pollock himself had moved there in 1946. In this way, he became a more minor and now basically forgotten roleplayer in the Cradle of Abstract Expressionism buzz centered around this Long Island hamlet.
Unlike Pollock and de Kooning, who also had connections with Springs, Blinkerton labelled himself a surrealist during his time in New York. It was only after the death of Pollock in 1956 and a subsequent move to New Mexico that, in his own words, he took up the banner of abstract expressionism from his compatriot whose life had been cut so tragically short.
Rumored to be locked in a Lordsburg motel room from 1961 to 1992 (partially true), he created abstract painting after abstract painting that could be stacked on top of each other to create what Blinkerton called composites. The 2 posts above represent only 2 of the numberless ways to create such composites in a digital fashion. Blinkerton preferred to exhibited his new work in this stacked manner rather than the conventional gallery method. However, he had little opportunity to do so. In New York, few took notice of his surrealist works, and after his move to New Mexico fewer took notice of his new paintings. Abstract expressionism’s time had passed, along with Pollock himself.
Blinkerton seemed always one beat behind the current fashion or fad. In 1981, the then 70 year old artist and eccentric shifted allegiance from abstract expressionism to the neo-Dadaist pop art espouced by Jasper Johns and others, and which was also seen as out of date at the time. I’ll attempt to give some examples from this period of his career as well soon. It was only then that he dared to give up his Lordsburg motel room of 20 years and venture out into the surrounding community and beyond, into the Hidalgo County desert and brush itself.
In 2002, upon returning to his home state of Missouri to attend the funeral of his brother, William Charles Blinkerton (unclear whether this funeral was in Green City or Greencastle), he first logged onto the Second Life virtual world, then in its infancy and known as Linden World. In short fashion, Blinkerton claims to have recreated 319 of his pop and abstract expressionist works and “jam” them into an old rusty virtual wagon based on an actual example in the ghost town of Shakespeare just south of Lordsburg. He then set what he thought of as the ultimate but also final of his composites on fire, virtually speaking, in the center of Linden City which was, in turn, the center of Linden World.
Virtual burning was born then, according to Blinkerton, and not in the later Burning Life event started in 2003.