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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Williams’

Dorothea Lange- 1936 Daughter of a Migrant Coal MinerI was looking at some of Dorothea Lange‘s classic Depression-era photos recently and came upon this image of a young woman. The label says it is from late 1936 and the young woman was the daughter of a migrant Tennessee coal miner living in a camp on the American River near Sacramento, California.  It is such a compelling image that you can almost feel the weariness and sorrow in her.  I find myself wondering whatever became of that girl, if she ever found happiness or contentment or at least shook off those weary blues that seem to be consuming her in the photo.

Lange had a real genius for extracting raw emotion from her photos–it’s so evident when you scan a page of her work where you can see the images together.  It’s obvious that she connected on a very personal level with her subjects, allowing them to expose themselves and their inner emotions within the trust they extended to her.  And with that trust Lange created photos that showed these folks honestly and with dignity, making  you care about these strangers from another era as much as she did in that moment.

That is an extraordinary gift.

Looking at this photo brings me to this week’s Sunday music.  I chose a cover of the old Hank Williams song Weary Blues but done by modern chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux in a more bluesy style.  You would think old Hank was looking at this photo when he wrote the chorus:

Weary blues from waitin’
Lord, I’ve been waitin’ so long
These blues have got me cryin’
Oh, sweet daddy please come home

Have a great day and hope you can use it to shake any weary blues you might have.

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Edward Hopper NighthawksWhenever I see an Edward Hopper painting I feel a bond with him, as though he were a kindred spirit in a world full of alienation.  There is always a great sense of distance in his paintings.

Aloofness.  A disengagement of sorts from the wider world.  Even in his cityscapes, one feels as though they are miles away from anyone else.

I suppose this disengagement may be the reason I and many others choose to communicate in paint.  With few exceptions, I have seldom felt inclusion in many groups of people,  always feeling a bit like an outsider.  And while I have actually become comfortable in this position, always bearing a sort of suspicion toward groups or cliques, the need to be heard drives my painting.  

Even in a world of alienation, one wants to have their say.

In my paintings, I sometimes see this aloofness in my red tree and the way it is often portrayed as a single figure in a large space.  Sometimes the pieces reflect a celebration of the self and self-reliance but sometimes there is this sense of a Hopper-like alienation.  The solitary character just wanting to be heard.

I don’t see this as being a sad portrayal.  There’s much more I could say on this but I think that’s enough for the moment.  Here’s a song from the great Hank Williams that kind of speaks to this subject.  It’s Lost Highway, a song that is, for me, one of the most transcendent songs Hank ever recorded, a song with a spirit that feels new and alive even today, even with its early ’50’s production values.

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