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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria’

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I am a child of America.

I was raised believing in the promise of America.

Land of opportunity. Land of second chances.

Rags to riches. Log cabin to the White House.

The land of the free and the home of the brave.

Equal rights for all and all are welcome.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

The Melting Pot, where our great diversity of cultures, beliefs and ideas are a source of strength.

Shining city on the hill. The beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

The Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…

One for all, all for one.

I was this child for many years. I held on to these ideals, these beliefs, with the hope that the promise of America would someday be fulfilled. That hope has sometimes felt within our reach as a nation.

But this morning, I am a child no more.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Yesterday, we witnessed things we never thought we would see in this country. People who were expressing their freedom of speech in a most peaceful and lawful way outside the white house were set upon by mounted police and pelted with rubber bullets and tear gas. The Secretary of Defense spoke in terms of the need for the military to dominate the battlespace when speaking about our citizens and the president*** later authorized use of that military force against our own people.

I have written here about the dangers many people saw in this presidency from long before the election of 2016. I have often worried it was all too hyperbolic, that I was misinterpreting the signs I was seeing and was simply wrong. I can admit to having been wrong in the past so I always have a bit of uncertainty even when what I am seeing seems clear in my mind.

But, yesterday was the culmination, the proof that the warnings that so many of us had been issuing over the past four plus years were not mere hand-wringing.

The threat to our democracy and freedom is real.

We are nearing that point where we will not be able to ever fulfill the promise of America. That point where we are only America in name only.

If you think this is a time to just be quiet, to try to ignore what is happening not pick a side, you are making the wrong choice. And make no mistake, silence is a choice here, one that puts you firmly on the side of those who are trying to steer this country into some sort of military dictatorship.

At this moment, silence is the ally of brutality and oppression.

Silence authorizes atrocity. It has been this way throughout history and we are at a critical crossroads in history.

Will you remain silent?

Believe me when I say that I do not relish writing this post this morning. I know that I am a simple artist, a person who smears paint on surfaces for the enjoyment of others. You most likely come here– especially if you have read this far– for a diversion from the world, a break from the sheer hardness of it.

This week I am normally trying to stir interest in my work for my show that opens this Friday at the Principle Gallery. So writing this is a bit of a tight rope act for me, trying to balance my own self interests with the need to speak up about what is happening in this land right now.

I guess I could at least talk about the painting at the top, The Durable Will, from the show. There is, after all, a certain relevance between what I see in it and the current situation. This is certainly a painting that, for me, speaks to ideals. It is about strength and endurance, about weathering all that comes while still maintaining an air of grace and beauty.

It might well serve as a symbol of what I desire for this country. That we stand up, speak the needed truth, take the blows and endure. That we grow into a better future based in grace and beauty.

Part of that child still resides in me.

And I am glad for that this morning, on a day when I am filled with darkness.

So, for those of you who believe I should just be quiet or that you just want to ignore the situation and remain silent, I leave you with the words of the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, a man who definitely refused to turn a blind eye to injustice or remain silent:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”

 

 

 

 

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“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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I call this painting, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, At the Edge of the World. It’s included in my annual solo show Social Distancing which opens June 5 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

It’s an odd thing to promote a show during these strange times. While I know there will be a show, we still don’t know if there will be a reception. And even if there somehow is a reception, we don’t know what the logistics for it would be. I am pretty positive that I would not be attending in either case  which is odd as this has been an annual keystone event for me for the past 20 years.

Like many things these days, everything for the show has seemed out of rhythm and discordant.

I know getting into the groove for this show was difficult in the earlier part of this year as the pandemic took hold. I am not the kind of painter who can just fall back on my built in process and trust that it will carry me through. My process is always changing and is often quite different, even from day to day. The process used is often simply whatever is at hand that best allows me to express whatever the emotion well inside is gushing out on that given day.

For me, painting is almost always about the emotion of the moment. So, at a time when my emotions are flying all over the place, finding a painting groove took a while to locate. Before I found it, I felt like I was always fighting against myself. But now I’m in that groove and it feels good to create work that consistently meshes with my internal feelings.

We’re in a time that has shaken our rhythms and forced us to look at things in different ways, to reexamine what forces have brought us to this point and where we will be when this is all over. I think the work for this show distinctly reflects this time of social distancing and the air of anxiety and uncertainty that surrounds all of us. While some of it feels darker at first glance, there is most always a duality in the work that brings a feeling of hopeful possibility and endurance.

I know that is what I am seeing in this painting. It reflects the fact that we are at a place and time that we have never encountered before. We are at the edge of the world now. We don’t really now for sure what is in store for us beyond that visible edge. We fear the worst and hope for the best. The reality most likely is somewhere between those two poles but nobody can truly predict that future with any degree of certainty.

In this painting, I believe the focus is on the positive aspects of this near future that dwells over that edge. Much like the short snip from Murakami’s novel at the top, there is the possibility of that which is new and unknown to us. New chords to hear. New patterns to see. A new way of thinking.

This is about seeing this time as a moment of reinvention, with the possibility to forge a future that is markedly better than the past.

That’s my reading. You may see it differently and that is just as it should be.

Take care and have a good day.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

— A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

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It seems like this current period of time, this year we call 2020, might be memorable. It definitely falls somewhere among those terms that Dickens set out in the opening paragraph of his A Tale of Two Cities.

I’m still waiting for the best of times part but maybe it will eventually show its shining face at some point this year. Got my fingers crossed on that one.

The painting at the top is part of my Social Distancing show that opens 4 weeks from tomorrow, June 5, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. As I was working on it, further into the process it felt like it was acting as a marker in some way of this year. It certainly reflected the social distancing in the show’s title.

But there was something more than that to it, something more like the Dickensian ( finally got to use that word!) words above. Perhaps best of times, worst of times sort of stuff.

Season of light and season of darkness, definitely.

I think it’s a fitting piece for this period with its fractured sky and darker, ominous tones set against the light from the sun/moon(?) and the sturdiness of the house.

It is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Not fearful either nor foolishly filled with hubris. The word I might use is enduring.

Kind of like the final speech from Ma Joad ( played brilliantly by Jane Darwell) that ends the film version of The Grapes of Wrath:

“I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked like we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out too, but we keep on coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, ’cause we’re the people.”

That speech always moves me because it speaks so strongly to my own survival instincts. There have been times when I wanted to give up but this same drive that Ma Joad describes kicks in.

You take the beating today but you keep plodding forward, doing whatever is needed to see the next day.

Because maybe that’s where the answer will be.

That’s what I see in this painting. Enduring. Resilient. Good time, bad times, fight through the darkness and look for the light. Just keep going on and not giving up.

I am calling this painting, which is 20″ wide by 30″ tall on wood panel, In the Year 2020.

It was somewhat borrowed from the old Zager & Evans 1968 hit In the Year 2525. That time 50 some years back felt as apocalyptic as this moment seems now. I am sure there was a lot of use of the best of times, worst of times at that point. But we did somehow endure the turbulence of that time. There might be much more ahead of us now that we will have to struggle past but we will most likely endure and look back at this year with mixed feelings someday, remembering the awfulness along with the goodness we discovered alongside it.

Here’s a video of that Zager & Evans song set to visuals from the 1925 silent futuristic dystopian classic from director Fritz Lang, Metropolis.
Have a good day and stay strong.

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To all my friends without distinction I am ready to display my opulence: come one, come all; and whosoever likes to take a share is welcome to the wealth that lies within my soul.

–Antisthenes
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This new painting is headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria with me this coming Saturday, September 21, for my annual Gallery Talk there, which begins at 1 PM.  This is my 17th Gallery Talk at the Principle and it has turned into a neat little event, one that has me engaging in a usually lively talk, giving away some gifts ( including at least one painting–see yesterday’s blog!) and unveiling a smaller group of new paintings.

This is one of those new paintings, a 20″ by 40″ canvas called True Opulence.

I hesitated in using the word opulence for this piece because I don’t see it as celebrating those things we most often associate with wealth and luxury. Not money or gold or diamonds or fancy car and clothes. No, it is more in the vein of the words at the top from the Greek philosopher Antisthenes.

It is a celebration of our ability to feel opulence in the world around us and within ourselves.

In the lushness of a field. In the richness in the colors of the flowers. In the clarity of a clean bright sky. In the graceful roll of a distant hill. In the beauty of a tree reaching outward. In our ability to experience these things and feel ourselves connected to the whole of it all.

That is the real opulence in this world.

True Opulence.

Funny how adding the word true changes the meaning of opulence. But it does. It makes the other opulence seem almost false, as though it is a mere replication of that which is available to all.

I hope you can come out this Saturday to the Principle Gallery to see True Opulence and the other new pieces. You might even win a painting or take home some swag. Your odds are pretty good! It starts at 1 PM so get there a bit early to grab a seat.

 

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“Depth of Moment”- From the show “Red Tree 20: New Growth,” at the Principle Gallery

Well, the paintings are in the gallery now for my new solo exhibit, Red Tree 20: New Growth, opening next Friday, June 7, at the Principle Gallery.

I can now let out a big sigh of relief just knowing the biggest part of the process– the creation, finishing, and delivery–is out of the way.

And I can give an even bigger sigh of relief in seeing that the work looks very strong in the gallery. It had the pop in that space that I hoped for. Sometimes pieces can feel bigger and stronger in the studio and much less so in the open space of a gallery. This group had the depth of color and strength of forms along with the sizing and scale that fit well in the space.

They could say what they had to say. That’s all I could hope for them. Now it’s up to them.

Phew! Now it just comes down to seeing if others can see and hear what they are saying. We shall see…

For today’s Sunday morning music, here’s a song from the very unique Leon Redbone, who passed away Thursday at the age of 69. It’s a 1977 performance of Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. Gentle and easy for a gray and very wet and green morning here. Hope there’s some sunshine for you, wherever you might be.

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There is an opening next Friday, February 22, [I originally said the opening was on the 15th because, well, sometimes I get confused]of a special exhibition at the Principle Gallery that marks 25 years of providing high quality artwork in historic Alexandria, Virginia. It has been my great pleasure and honor to be part of this great gallery for 23 of those years and I am pleased to have several pieces in this special show.

Like many of the artists it represents, the Principle Gallery has grown and evolved over those 25 years, becoming one of the most prominent galleries in the country with artists and collectors from near and far as well as another gallery branch in Charleston, SC.

But even with its growing influence in the gallery world, its strength remains the personal and warm welcome it offers to anybody who wanders through the doors of its location in the historic Gilpin House at 208 King Street. There is never a sense of pretense or condescension and the entire staff does all it can to make all feel comfortable. It is all about allowing the gallery visitor to experience the artwork in a way that allows them to relax and fully absorb the art in a personal fashion.

And they have done that successfully every day for the past twenty five years. And I sincerely thank and applaud hem for that. I hope that if you’re in the area you can stop in to celebrate the occasion with them on Friday evening, February 22. The opening reception begins at 6:30.

Unfortunately, I can’t make this opening. But I will be there in June for the opening of my 20th annual solo show. Hope to see you then!

 

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Art has no other purpose than to brush aside… the conventional and accepted generalities, in short everything that veils reality from us, in order to bring us face to face with reality itself.

–Henri Bergson

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This is another new painting, 16″ by 20″ on canvas, that is part of the group of work going with me to Alexandria on Saturday for my Gallery Talk (begins at 1 PM!) at the Principle Gallery. I call it The Moon’s Revelation and I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks looking at it, both taking pleasure in it and questioning what I was seeing in it.

What purpose, if any, does it hold?

The question of purpose is a big theme for me lately. My own purpose and that of my work. The purpose of truth. Of institutions and laws. I can’t say if I have found answers any of these questions. But I still believe that there are clues leading to my own purpose somewhere in this piece and others.

They just have to be revealed, in the way the moon brings the colors of the fields to light in this painting.

Time , as always, shall be the revelator.

 

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Here’s a short video preview of most of the new work that will be coming with me for my Gallery Talk this coming Saturday, September 22, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. It begins at 1 PM.

This is my 16th year doing this Talk which began with the first King Street Arts Festival in Alexandria, which has grown into a pretty large outdoor art show. I view these talks as a chance to get to really talk with folks who are interested in art and what I might be doing with my own work. It allows me to go into a little more depth about some things, giving background details and telling some stories.

The feedback that comes from these talks is invaluable to me. Outside of this blog, my shows and talks are my only chance to get out of the secure bubble of my studio and really see how people interact with my work. It is normally very motivating for me when I get back in the studio.

Plus, these talks give me a chance to express my gratitude to the people who have followed and supported my work over the years. Part of that comes for me in giving away a painting (or two— you’ll have to come to see what the actual number is) such as the painting shown here, Deep Focus. And there are some other goodies that will be given away that I think are pretty neat.

So, if you’re interested, come for the Gallery Talk on Saturday. There will be new paintings, a drawing for a painting, some giveaways, some refreshments, good conversation, a few stories and generally some good laughs.

Hope you can make it.

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Truth has no continuity. It is the mind that wants to make the experience which it calls truth continuous, and such a mind shall not know truth. Truth is always new; it is to see the same smile, and see that smile newly, to see the same person, and see that person anew, to see the waving palms anew, to meet life anew. 

― Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti

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I was looking for some words to put with this new painting that is part of a group of work that is going with me to my Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery next Saturday, September 15. I came across the words above from the late Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and at first kind of scoffed at the idea that truth has no continuity. I immediately thought that truth, above all things, has continuity. It’s this idea that truth is some sort of nebulous form, always changing and never set, that has us in the situation we now face as a nation.

I believed that truth- especially objective, fact-based truth- was a straight unwavering line running from its inception until the end of time.

But the truth he describes is a different sort of truth. It’s a subjective truth based on our perceptions. How we see the world around us. To see truth, especially these subjective truths, as something set in concrete closes off the mind. We begin to look at the world with blind eyes and a mind filled with the truths of yesterday. We fail to see the beauty and freshness of the renewed truth that is before us in every present moment.

We may have seen yesterday’s sunrise and that has its own truth, its own set of conditions. Today’s may seem to have the same truth but it is always different, slightly changed. The same goes for each of us. We were one person yesterday but in some small and almost imperceptible way  we have changed. We may feel a bit older. A bit wiser. A bit happier or sadder or any number of different things. But we are not the same today as we were yesterday.

Our truth has changed.

And there is something wonderful in that. Oh, I know we would often like things, our truths of the past, to remain the same as we remember them. There’s reassurance in those static touchstones that clutter our memories. But today is a new truth under a new sky and a newly changed sun. The world is freshened and made new. It has a new truth of its own and it is our task, our hope and our joy to discover it anew.

I find that thought to be a fine basis for this painting, an 18″ by 36″ canvas that I call The Freshening. Winter is a perfect example of this idea of constant renewal. The falling snow creates a new truth, alters our perceptions of the world we see. It creates a new truth. And its melting creates yet another revelation of truth. As does the rising of the new day’s sun.

Maybe that seems a naive way of looking at the world in these complex times where truth means something different to so many different people. But there are simple truths  that make up our existence and looking at them in a simplified manner might not be such a bad thing.

Like looking at the world in the first light of day after a snowfall– freshened and new.

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My Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria takes place on Saturday, September 15, beginning at 1 PM. There will be a painting giveaway, some other prizes, surprises, good conversation and puppets. Lots of puppets. Okay, that last part isn’t true. But you won’t know for sure unless you come.

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Next on the agenda is my Gallery Talk ( they call it an Artist Talk– tomato,tamato) at the Principle Galleryon Saturday, September 15, beginning at 1 PM. This will be the 16th year I have given a talk at the gallery. It coincides with the annual Alexandria King Street Art Festival which has evolved into a pretty large showcase for many talented, working artists.

So, what could be better than a day in historic and beautiful Alexandria along with some art, good talk and more?

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