Archive for September 20th, 2012

Summing Up/ Redux

I am on the road today so I went into the archives and came across this post from two years ago.  I had just received an inquiry from the Fenimore Art Museum which eventually led to my exhibit which hangs there currently.  It’s always difficult to summarize yourself.  People at shows and talks ask quite often for a way to categorize  the body of my work, to give a few words which adequately describe it, and I am  always at a total loss for words.  It just is to me.  

Here are my thoughts from a couple of years ago on this subject:

I had an inquiry yesterday from a museum, asking for more photos and information on my work in order to give them a well-rounded sense of my work. So, I sat down and began going back through my work over the years, trying to determine how I might encapsulate what I do in a condensed manner that gives them a complete look and satisfies me.

I struggled with the task. Choosing work that sums me up was difficult. Can I sum up my work in one or two or twenty or a hundred images? How do you define yourself at what you yourself consider a midpoint?

For me, it all feels the same, as though it is part of a continuum. I see differences through the years but I know that each painting was done with pretty much the same mindset and the same critical eye during the process which makes them equal in my mind which gives them the consistency for their audience that I seek. Maybe it’s that word egalitarian coming up again, but I want there to be no difference in the quality and emotional impact between the smallest, most affordable painting and the largest, more expensive work.

And then there are the series I’ve done through the years. Obviously, the ubiquitous Red Tree. But there is also the Red Roofs. Red Chairs. Archaeology. And many other less organized, recurrent groups of work featuring sailboats, cityscapes and small, lone figures. Or the other figurative work featuring what I call the Outlaws or the early Exiles. How many of these pieces fall into the category of rounding out an overview of the work?

How do you completely sum up yourself in the most condensed way?

I had this come up a few years back in nother way. After a very nice, well written article in the local newspaper, I was contacted by the producers of a national talk show set in NYC on one of the major news networks. They had seen the article and the host felt I would be a perfect fit for the show which featured a panel of guests from various fields in a fast-paced, short sound bite-y format. The host would shoot out a question and go quickly to a guest who would have 15 or 20 seconds to give a full answer.

So, the producers interviewed me separartely then finished with about 20 minutes of the main producer pretending to be the host and throwing questions at me quickly. After we had been doing this for the 20 minutes, with her constantly urging me to be faster with my responses, I was pretty frustrated and finally asked her what she wanted from me.

She said she wanted to summarize what my career was about in 15 seconds.

That pretty much ended the interview and, needless to say, I didn’t go to NYC for the show. I was actually relieved but it made me wonder how someone could adequately sum up themselves in such a short manner. I still haven’t figured it out and I guess I’ll have to think about this some more.

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