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Posts Tagged ‘Bucknell University’

Aah, the work was delivered to the Principle Gallery yesterday for the show, Social Distancing, that opens this coming Friday, June 5, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.

I say aah because there is always a sense of relief once the work has left my hands and is in the gallery. I’ve done what I can and it’s out of my hands.

But the aah this year might be even larger than in any other year. Completing this year’s show was hard fought struggle within myself. The number of distractions was huge as you all know. It has been a trying time for all of us between an impeachment, a pandemic that has delivered over 100 thousand deaths thus far not to mention vast job losses and an economic uncertainty that most certainly see us in a recession, if a depression, for the coming years along with the violent eruption of a long simmering volcano of unequal justice and economic opportunity for people of color. Factor into that a money grab by the wealthiest among us from the pandemic relief funds and you have a hot and messy stew cooking.

This might well be a year without parallel in the memories of most of us and maybe in the history of this country. We are a nation at great stress right now.

So to get my little bit of business out of the way, to be able to push all this aside and do work that was strong and meaningful in my own eyes was a different sort of task than in any of the previous 21 years of doing this show. Maybe the show of 2002, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, would be the closest parallel but that at that time we didn’t have a deadly virus or the same sort of raw internal rips in our society that we are experiencing now as a nation. In retrospect, that time seemed like a light appetizer for the heavy meal, that hot and messy stew, on our table at this moment.

But, as far the show, it is there now and I think it’s a damn fine show. I can’t think of a piece in it that that I would want to omit or change. I think every painting in it has its own strength that shows. I hope you will get a chance to get into the gallery to see it or at least take a look at the exhibit document from the Principle Gallery when it’s released in a few days.

I have to say that another bit of relief was the great ease I experienced in the delivery yesterday. In the many, many trips down to Alexandria I have made over the past 23 years, yesterday was by far the easiest ride I have ever made. The traffic was exceedingly light and the weather absolutely perfect. The delivery itself went smoothly and quickly. Every aspect of the day was easy.

I came home, as usual through central Pennsylvania. If you don’t know the area, the route runs above Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River, and is a lovely area with a rural feel marked by the farms and horse-drawn buggies of the many Amish and Mennonite farmers along the way. But it is also a deeply conservative area, a hotbed of far right ideology. Lots of guns, pickups and camo clothing. Lots of evangelical billboards and, strangely,quite a few weird little, windowless porn shops that always seem to have more than a few cars in front of them.

It’s a big Trump area. Yeah, I wrote that name– can taste the ashes in my mouth. Some businesses have it scrawled across the face of their buildings and you see quite a few of his campaign signs . There was even one guy, with a big gut and a tight white tee shirt, selling Trump merchandise by the side of the busy road. No buyers when I passed him, thankfully. But one thing I noticed in a few places were signs in the neighboring yards of those the yards that had Trump signs. The signs simply said “Be Kind” as though these neighbors wanted to somehow counter the meaning that was implicit in the signs of their neighbors.

That small gesture gave me the slightest glimpse of hope.

Coming home, I came through Lewisburg, a town that is best known as the home of Bucknell University. Coming into town after passing Bucknell, I came to traffic light at the intersection of the two main roads running through the area.  At each of the four corners there were quite a few people gathered holding signs and gesturing to the traffic. Coming to a stop at the red light, I realized that it was a Black Lives Matter protest, much like the other protests taking place around the nation.

It was a diverse group with many white faces– this is central PA, after all– but a large number of people of color as well. They were peaceful and wore their masks and kept distance as well as they could. I gave them the thumbs up and many returned the gesture. As I drove away I gave a young black woman the thumbs up and she gave me a clenched fist held high above her head in response.

I can’t tell you how much those small gestures made my day. That group of peaceful protesters in such a conservative part of that state gave me the hope that there might be real change ahead for us as a nation, that we will push past this moment and vanquish the forces of division and inequality that are at work right now.

Maybe that’s what the painting at the top reflects. Part of the show, it’s a 10″ by 20″ canvas that is called And the Clouds Will Pass…

That’s how I want to see it.

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