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Posts Tagged ‘Art Show’

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“I told myself: ‘I am surrounded by unknown things.’ I imagined man without ears, suspecting the existence of sound as we suspect so many hidden mysteries, man noting acoustic phenomena whose nature and provenance he cannot determine. And I grew afraid of everything around me – afraid of the air, afraid of the night. From the moment we can know almost nothing, and from the moment that everything is limitless, what remains? Does emptiness actually not exist? What does exist in this apparent emptiness?”

Guy de Maupassant, The Horla

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This is another new piece, a smaller painting on paper that is part of my Social Distancing show that opens June 5 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. I am calling this piece The Emptiness.

The title is taken from The Horla, one of the last short stories written by Guy de Maupassant, the 19th century French master of the short story. It’s a tale of horror about an alien being — an invisible organism, actually– called the Horla that comes to earth with the intention of subjugating the human race. This unseen invader has the power to enter and sway the minds of its victims. The narrator of the story describes his emotions, the vast emptiness that overtakes him, as he realizes what is happening and his powerlessness in the face of the threat.

A few years later, tragically, de Maupassant tried to commit suicide by slitting his own throat but survived, dying in a sanitarium a year later, in 1893 at the age of 42. Apparently, the emptiness of the story’s narrator was very much the same emptiness as that of  the writer.

I thought this painting would fit well into this particular show, which is concerned with social isolation, from that which has been caused by the pandemic to all other forms of isolation. For some, isolation can bring solitude. For others, it brings the emptiness that de Maupassant described.

This painting leans toward that form of isolation. Maybe it’s the bilious green of the interior walls or the spare details of the room. Or the looming moon seen through the window, a large alien eye always there, always watching.

It feels like an unusual piece for me, even though it fits neatly into my body of work. It feels complete and there’s a pleasant, even comfortable, feel to it. But it’s an uneasy comfort, maybe like that experienced by those whose minds have unknowingly been infected by the Horla.

Or maybe it’s the uneasiness that comes with the normalization and acceptance, by a lot of people, of behavior that was once considered repulsive by the majority of us. It feels like the same kind of infection of the mind is taking place. Watching this take place now must surely be like the experience of the narrator watching the Horla affect those around him.

It certainly creates its own emptiness.

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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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I call this painting Hunkered Down. It’s about 17″ square on paper and is part of my solo show, Social Distancing, that opens in just over a month on June 5th at the Principle Gallery.

Choosing the title for this piece, or for the show for that matter, was not a difficult task. Hunkered down is the term that most often jumps to mind when I think of this time of keeping socially distant.

The fact that this is the normal form of existence for me made it even easier.

Avoiding people and not having to go anywhere is something I have practiced for decades. I never thought of wearing a mask but like the idea of the vague anonymity it provides. Now that it’s acceptable and required, I might continue to wear one even after this thing someday subsides.

That is, if I ever leave my property again.

That’s a big if.

This piece is a return to my older style in transparent inks, more spare in detail which allows the primary elements, the simple forms of sky and land, to carry the larger part of the emotional load. This lack of detail brings a quietness to the whole that speaks volumes, at least for me.

The first song that came to  mind when I thought of an accompaniment to this painting was an old favorite from Elvis Costello, Almost Blue. There are several versions of the song that I like so I had some choices. I have played a wonderful version that is an absolute favorite from late jazz great Chet Baker here before so I decided to play a nice simple and spare performance of the song by Elvis himself from a 2005 radio broadcast. I also threw in a version that I also like very much from, Diana Krall, who also happens to be his wife.

Have a good Sunday. Be careful out there, okay?

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The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives – the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself.

Norman Cousins

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This is a new 18″ by 18″ painting that I call A Rising Awareness which is included in my show, The Rising, that is now hanging and opens Friday at the West End Gallery.

I think the words above from the late journalist Norman Cousins capture what I feel the representative Red Roof house is rising above in this painting. It is a constant battle for us humans to hold on to those things– genuine feeling,inspired response and an empathy with the pain or glory of others– as we live our lives on this planet. We sometimes become self-centered and guarded in our response to many things and emotionally distant in our dealings with others. Instead of feeling their pain or glory, we sometimes experience envy at their successes and a pang of relief that their failures are not ours.

Our humanity dulls and much joy is lost to us.

But the idea that we can recognize this dulling in ourselves and somehow fight against and rise above it intrigues me. I have come to believe that we can make conscious decisions to raise our awareness, to feel and respond in more positive ways, that we are enriched by maintaining a spirit of generosity and empathy towards others.

I like to think that the Red Roof here represents one who has taken this higher road and has made the decision to listen to its better angels. There’s a feeling of a letting go of angry and mean-spirited thoughts and an acknowledgment of a unity of sorts with the universal human spirit.

Warmth and tranquility. Maybe that is what I am seeing. You judge for yourself.

 

 

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There’s a lot I would like to write about this painting as it hits so many notes for me personally. Titled Night Gem Rising, it’s a 12″ by 36″ painting on canvas that is one of those pieces that goes past any expectations that were gathered at its beginning. It feels like so much more than anything I put into it  or the sum of my own parts.

It’s funny but it is sometimes harder to write about these pieces that hit so closely on a personal level. Maybe it’s because they get so close to the core. Too close to conceal one’s own tears, fears, desires and doubts.

So, I am just showing it with that little explanation today. It is included in my annual show at the West End Gallery,this year called The Rising. The show is now hung in the Market Street gallery for previews and the opening reception takes place this coming Friday, July 13, running from 5-7:30. Please stop in and take a look.

For this Sunday morning music I thought I’d pick a version of a favorite of mine from singer/songwriter Richard Thompson. It’s Dimming of the Day and it fits perfectly for my feelings on this painting. This is one of those songs that will no doubt go down as a modern classic if it isn’t already thought of as such, considering the long list of artists who have covered it. There are so many great versions but I still prefer Thompson’s performances of it. This is a recent live version from an NPR radio broadcast.

Enjoy and have a good Sunday.

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