Archive for November 16th, 2010

I had an interesting conversation at the opening a week or so back at the Kada Gallery in Erie.  It was near the end of the night and John D’Angelo, the brother of Joe D’Angelo who owns the gallery along with wife Kathy, approached me.  John is in his 80’s but it is not an old 80’s.  He is vibrant and filled with energy.  He is also a very talented man.   After his retirement, John started carving full size carousel animals, copying the masters who crafted the beautiful creatures that adorned the merry-go-rounds of the late 1800’s and the early parts of the 1900’s.  His beautiful beasts were the subject of a show at the gallery that drew huge crowds and raves.

We talked for a short while about the paintings then I asked him more about his carvings.  He talked about  how he just couldn’t sell them.  Not because there was no demand.  On the contrary, he described how many people were upset that he wouldn’t put a price on them, wouldn’t part with them at the show.  He said he only gave them away to family members and held on to the rest.  He talked about the joy of carving the animals and how, after he was done, he would run his hands over the large smooth carvings and be filled with wonder as to how he had done this.  It seemed beyond him, more than he was capable of doing.  He asked if I ever finsihed a painting then ran my hands over it with that same feeling.

I immediately knew the feeling he described.  In fact, it brought back a memory of the piece shown above, Big Fish.  It is a large wide painting that is over 60″ wide in its frame and now spends its days in a very prestigious office in DC.  When it was still in my studio, I was part of a project for a book by photographer Barbara Hall Blumer where she would visit artists’ studios and chronicle them in their work environment.  On the day she visited my old studio, which was infinitely more rustic than my current one, she had me show her around and talk about my process as she snapped away.  At one point, I stood at one of my painting tables where this piece was resting, nearly complete.  As we talked, I absentmindedly ran my hands over the surface of the heavily textured painting, feeling the coolness of the paint on my skin.  Barbara noticed and commented as she took a shot of my hands on the painting, asking if that was something I did regularly.

I thought about it and said I guess I did. 

Thinking about it now, I was indeed doing that very thing that John D’Angelo had described.  I often look at my work after it is done and wonder where it came from, how something so graceful came from someone so often awkward.  About how it seemed more than me,  just as John had described.  I needed to feel it if only to verify that it was real, that it indeed existed outside of my mind.  It’s a strange feeling and one that I was pleased to share with John that night, comforted in knowing he knew that same feeling of surprise and wonder.

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