Featured Artist


By Published On: March 4th, 2024

Horizontal and vertical become
interchangeable allowing the
circle square to be continuous and

Once initiated, the life traveler
journeys in an everland of awareness
Of past, present and future
Traverse p 124 Laurence Carr

I first saw the book Traverse at an exhibition at Furnace Art on Paper Archive, Falls Village, CT. The project unravels an embedded trust between two collaborators, visual artist Power Boothe and writer Laurence Carr. This archive is a touchstone of true friendship and conversation, journeying the visual image and written word hand-in-hand, bringing a unique sense of what a collaboration can achieve.

Origin stories

Boothe and Carr lived and worked in New York City for 35 years, crossing paths in life, the theater, and the art worlds. Boothe was originally from California, where he studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, then gained his BA in Colorado Springs, CO. He arrived in New York City as a student newly enrolled in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1967. He lived and worked in a Soho loft in the downtown art scene for the next three decades, teaching and collaborating across theater, performance, and visual art. His work is represented in public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2001, he migrated upstate as Dean of the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CT, where he is currently a professor of painting.

Likewise, Carr settled into New York City after gaining his BFA from Ohio University and embarked on his MA at New York University. He is an award-winning author, director, and actor with over twenty plays produced in New York City and Europe. Carr has been a professor of creative and dramatic writing at SUNY New Paltz, NY, for 24 years, creating the SUNY Playwrights Project as well as serving as a writing mentor and producing an online magazine, Lightwood Press. He currently lives in the Hudson Valley, NY.

A musical score with its own visual language

After decades of dialogue and shared viewings regarding their practices, this project originated as Carr leafed through one of Boothe’s many sketchbooks. Inspired, Carr sent back poems and insightful narratives written in response to Boothe’s eight-inch by eight-inch drawings and paintings in pen, ink, crayon, and graphite. These grid-like images skip through the pages of the original sketchbook, evoking a musical score and a language of their own. The images were made in a large older planner dated 2010, strangely shifting the sense of timelessness from the actual making date of 2015. Looking into an artist’s sketchbook can feel like an intimate action, especially as this sketchbook is a planner; there is a sense of reading someone’s thoughts. One’s hand is delicate in touch, turning the sketchbook pages.

Herein started a collaboration of words and images, not one of description but instead of two disciplines brushing alongside each other. On opening night at Furnace Art on Paper Archive, Carr gifted the audience with a reading from their book Traverse. In synch, Boothe turned pages of the sketchbook, adding the sensation of performance, sound, and intonation. I picked up the conversation regarding collaboration with Laurence Carr, Power Booth, and Kathleen Kucka, who invited their performance of Traverse and new work at Furnace Gallery.

The tale of Traverse

Traverse unravels a playful, insightful conversation; this is not a tale to be read from start to finish but rather a collection of moments in time, each page allowing for a pause to reflect. Numerical references of eight skip from the title through phrase and grid, adding solidity while addressing celestial, mythical, and anthropological experiences. Carr’s sagacious eight-line poems lie on the opposing page of Power’s contemplative images, totaling sixty-four pieces. The original sketchbook drawings and words chosen for Traverse attach to unearthed narratives and moments in time, discussing cultures spanning from ancient pasts to present happenings, creating another time lapse. Each image and word relate to a saga, an act, or a glimpse into a scene. Yet these works were made separately; Boothe’s abstract images invoked in Carr words to be shared, encouraging the viewer to see the words and drawings/paintings as one whole.

Do you have advice when facing a blank page or canvas?

PB: A blank canvas is so charged that it can be overwhelming. An artist I knew, John Torreano, had to scuff up a new canvas to break the spell. I must jump in to get started, and something will show up. A line is a journey.

KK: If you have a block in the studio, it is usually the external distractions that block you, but once you are ready to explore work, you need to do as much of it as you can and use as much as possible, so it feeds the next project, like a domino effect.

LC: An energy is coming off this blank object; it is not intimidating but unnerving. When teaching, I discuss that there is no writer’s block because there are too many entry points. Try another entry point, which may also be a feeling or dialogue. Do what you are doing, and do not stop.

There is an essence of squares and lines throughout this project; what does the grid represent to each of you?

PB: The grid opens the door, but it is a dead scaffolding; it is a way into the work. How it unfolds through dots and lines feels akin to moving pieces around, and then suddenly, you are in a different game. What is interesting is the mid-game, when every piece is in play. Winning is not interesting, but in taking part, the possibilities are exciting and endless.

LC: Words on a page are already a grid; you cannot move away. A beginning point is a start; a word is a point; an idea is a point; a feeling is a point – all jumping-off points.

What elements do you feel will forge a successful collaboration?

PB: I had the good fortune to witness a performance by John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Merce Cunningham in New York City. Seated in the theater, I heard Cage use a squeaky door, alternately running a flashlight along the walls and tapping onto objects within reach. I realized that the entire auditorium had become an orchestral instrument under Cage’s touch. 

Meanwhile, Cunningham requested the dancers pick a random number from a hat, dictating how they would perform around the constantly shifting stage, set in motion by Rauschenberg as objects were placed and displaced. Improvisation ignites energy within work. Cage and Cunningham often worked together yet independently; they only performed together but never rehearsed prior. I later worked with both Cage and Rauschenberg. This early interdisciplinary experience was so pure. I am constantly considering how to retain that purity.

LC: Improvisation donates freedom, allowing for a unique performance and an essence of fluidity within collaborative work. The writing does not describe the visual; our work is independent but pulls towards each other. Rehearsals are often more potent than performances; you need to allow the experience or work to happen, and you cannot force it. Poets and writers often work together, but only sometimes successfully. It can be stultifying and deadly if they attempt to synch it up too much, and there can be no hierarchy in a collaboration. This work is two worlds glancing off each other, sympathetic to each other, and both aware of the spaces between things that are needed within work, allowing for a vibration. Attracting and repelling at the exact moment.

One thing that infuriates me when viewing art is the added captions for what I am looking at; I only want the name, date, and medium. Too much information can feel like interference, where the viewer is given an opinion before creating their own. At times, it can prevent the viewer from having a pure experience. 

In Traverse, we are not explaining anything, which could infuriate some who need the narrative, but it is okay to get lost in each page to pause, read, and reflect, holding in the moment. I like the energy it feeds within the narrative; we are linguistic animals, and this book is about energy and movement. I did not want it to be open-ended. I wanted each page to stand alone. I requested the first and final pairing of writings and images to create the bookend, and Power wanted it to loop continually, giving it a circular sense. It is not a book to read to the end. It is akin to improvisation.

Carr and Boothe’s previous experience in art, theater, acting, writing, and directing enabled them to understand interdisciplinary collaborations, allowing for spontaneity and freedom while respecting each other’s practice. Carr’s words uniquely latch to these images, bringing them further into a more three-dimensional existence. 

Following the publication of Traverse, Kathleen Kucka invited Boothe and Carr to perform and create new work together at Furnace Art on Paper. Initially, the building was a bank, so it is a unique experience stepping through the heavy metal doors to the walk-in vault at the back, where eight new collaborative paintings and writings on paper now hang. 

This intimate space allows the viewer time to journey with these works in private, almost secretly; one cannot be seen from the outside. The fluidity of the ink marking the paper attaches to both the image and the written word. One is reminded of ancient scripts or runes carried on papyrus, images on walls, or scrolls continuing to journey, made in one era, and translated in another, not unlike this project. 

Once more, these new works were created independently of each other. Carr hand-wrote the scripts onto the blank pages, which were covered up. Boothe created a new painting above the words without knowing what the language contained below; one was not influenced by another. Yet once united, the image and words playfully stand together; each work gives a pause to savor. •

Power Boothe will be opening a show of new work at Lyman Allyn Museum, 625 Williams Street in New London, CT, in July 2024, where Boothe and Carr will give another performance of Traverse. I encourage you to venture forth.

To learn more about Power Boothe, you can visit his website powerboothe.com or follow him on Instagram: @powerboothe

To learn more about Larry Carr, you can visit his website carrwriter.com and his own publication, Lightwood Press, at lightwoodpress.com.