Archive for August 16th, 2022

Integration of Influence


Sadly, last night was the final episode of the television series, Better Call Saul. I am not going to go into the wonderful characters and storytelling that made it great viewing. No spoilers here, either.

Instead, I wanted to comment on the beauty of the black and white filming employed in the final couple of episodes to portray the most recent section of the story’s timeline. The black and white was gorgeous, in deep contrasts of black, white, silver and gray. It really accentuated how well composed the images were that you were viewing.

Many were put together with the eye of a great photographer or painter. Many of the individual images from these episodes could be reproduced to make credible art prints. It reminded me of the beautiful use of similar black and white in the film Nebraska. I wondered if the fact that much of the last episodes took place in Nebraska had any influence. This in turn made me think of the work of Nebraska-born photographer Wright Morris who I wrote about here a number of years back.

I wonder if there is an actual line of influence that runs through the three: Morris -Nebraska- Saul? Maybe, maybe not. Doesn’t make much of a difference in how any of them are perceived. I just like to see how work integrates influences and how that integration is passed onward to influence the work of others.

Anyway, Below is that earlier entry on Wright Morris. You might see how I integrated his influence in my own work.

Wright Morris Straightback Chair- The Home Place

Writght Morris- Straightback Chair, The Home Place

One of the most common questions I am asked at gallery openings or talks is about the meaning behind the Red Chair in my paintings.  I always struggle to answer. Maybe because the answer is always changing for me.  I don’t really know. I do know that I use it in my work because the chair is such an identifiable image that is known to anyone in nearly any culture and has an inherent meaning in its form. A place to sit and rest. Or eat. Or converse. Or any number of things.

It is simply an icon of human existence.

But looking through some photo sites I came across the work of Nebraska-born photographer/writer Wright Morris (1910-1998). His stark and striking images of the Plains will seem very familiar to anyone who saw last year’s Alexander Payne film, Nebraska. I don’t know but would not be surprised if Morris’ imagery was a big influence on the visual look of the black and white film.

Wright Morris- Chair, The Home Place

Wright Morris- Chair, The Home Place

But while looking at some of these photos I came across a few images of chairs in a farmhouse. They were from a book of his titled The Home Place, a photo-novel telling the story of a man’s one-day visit to where he had spent his childhood in Nebraska, the home place. The images were very evocative and looking at them, it dawned on me that the meaning of the Red Chair was the same. It was so obvious– it was the Home Place. The place where you have a chair in which to sit, accepted as a part of that place.

It is simple yet powerful, like Wright Morris’ photos.

It’s good to have an answer to give now when someone asks…

Wright Morris Picture of Boy- The Home Place

In a Corner– At the West End Gallery

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: