bookshelf + mixtape :: walker t. roman, painter & inquisitor
Painter Walker T. Roman is a native Vineyarder and a recent addition to the Field Gallery community of artists. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2012.
We initially asked Walker about his book collection, and then, well, after reading what he was reading, we thought he'd probably put together an interesting mixtape. He did. Make sure to check it out at the tail of this post.
Growing up, the novels To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut made huge impressions on me. To Kill a Mockingbird was my first glimpse of the complex world we live in as adults — a world filled with societal obligations and problems greater than ourselves. In my adolescence, reading Vonnegut helped make visible the absurdities of the adult world, revealing how, like any other story, it’s all made up.
I’m currently reading three books that explore ways we can rewire our country’s systems to optimize function in the new reality:
The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg
Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison
Community Capitalism by Michael Garjian
Another three books that are on my mind lately:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The unrelenting presence of gray in this book is visceral. I can’t help but want to paint the decay, dust, and emptiness McCarthy describes. It definitely informed the near monochrome pieces I’ve just finished. (Below: an excerpt from this series of paintings.)
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
This has been wandering around in my head this summer. Junger presents a hyper-focused view of community and how we’ve lost its concrete role in society in the last thirty years. The relevance of this book has seeped into recent conversations I’ve had about the Island, politics, housing, family, and how we see one another.
Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine (Cabinet Books)
This was a Christmas present a few years ago from my fiancé, Danielle Mulcahy. It’s a mysterious one. Organized like an encyclopedia, each entry is an essay, but the relationship between subject and essay is wildly subjective, or tangentially related. For example, the entry for “Addiction” is a false confession from someone addicted to the made-up psychoactive properties of ingesting rusted iron. The entry for “Kindergarten” is about how its founding and core tenets (European, not the diluted American version we’re used to) inadvertently created the first generation of abstract painters. Each entry in this book is a trip down the rabbit hole.
A bunch of art-focused books live in my studio, including those that never leave my drafting table. (Pictured above.)
Willem de Kooning
Plus, print catalogues from:
Charlene Von Heyl
Then there’s the super nerdy technical stuff on the shelves — books on composition, color theory, art conservation, textbooks about light, essays on contemporary art discourse, my collection of National Audubon Society Field Guides, and, for good measure, books about the spaceships from Star Wars.
Walker T. Roman's paintings are on view at The Field Gallery in West Tisbury.
I’m an avid music consumer, and for a long time I thought I’d make music instead of paintings. I almost always listen to music when I’m painting—usually albums because a song within a larger context is really important to me. A great example is from Pink Floyd’s album The Wall: the track name Vera is odd and incomplete by itself, but in the context of other tracks it provides clarity and a respite before Pink Floyd plunges back into their musical dystopia.
I’m not drawn to a particular style of music, though growing up on island certainly gave me a taste for dissonance and punk sensibilities (largely influenced by Mike Barnes and his legendary Edgartown store Aboveground Records, which closed a few years ago).
The tie that binds together my favorite musicians is the experience of my first listen. It's like, “I have no idea what this is or what to call it, but I’m in love.”