by Roland Obedin-Schwartz
My name is Roland Obedin-Schwartz and my job on this site is to produce a series of mini-essays: conversational encounters with
Tom O’Neil, his approach, and his art. I met Tom serendipitously, the result of an idea on the part of his web host, Bob O’Haver, to experiment with a new tack on the writing for Tom’s site. Bob and I have known each other about a year from the context of my work as a budding fiction writer — a storyteller, not a journalist, nor a press agent. It is for this reason that I am here. My skill lies not in churning copy but in crafting a story; my goal is to give the reader a new opportunity to explore Tom O’Neil’s process as it opens up before me.
While I am comfortable in the fine art world I am by no means an expert in painting, much less abstract painting, and while I have been hired for this job I am intent to provide my own perspective on O’Neil and his work. Tom has graciously let me into his studio, and he and I have begun a series of meetings; I watch him paint, I listen to his musings, and we discuss his artistic purview. Our hope is that I become an informed advocate for a process and product that, in my opinion, is not currently given its due. I plan to approach these essays similarly to how O’Neil approaches a canvas — with goals in mind but a determined willingness to follow the search where it wants to go. I will not shy from contradiction, and I seek to enrich the discussion of O’Neil’s work but do not aim to provide answers for it. These conversations will not follow a straight line, and are not moving towards a specific end-point. They are guideposts through an intellectual adventure, and fodder for debate. Think of me as a telescope, here to bring out a new perspective in what’s already there.