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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.

 Marcel Proust

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A few days back I featured a new small painting that is headed to the West End Gallery for next week’s opening of their annual Little Gems show. That piece, and never looked back…, was a stark image in tones of black and gray that was about the idea of being forced from your home, never to return. It’s a depiction of that moment of leaving and the sense of loss and abandonment that remains.

The new painting above, also headed to the Little Gems show, is another take on the idea of abandoning one’s home. This piece, One Last Look, speaks to the nostalgia that appears after time, as memories of bad times and the accompanying anxieties have faded and singular moments of happiness have grown to fill all the moments of that time.  Time has smoothed away the rough edges and we begin to think that that time, that place, was much more idyllic than it ever was in actuality.

To me, this painting speaks to that nostalgia and its idealized sense of home and youth. With nostalgia, the past seems more vivid and vibrant.

The grass was greener then, I guess.

I am reminded of a post I wrote back in 2009 where a large poll taken at that time throughout Russia named Joseph Stalin as the third greatest Russian of all time. I wrote: Despite the many millions, yes, millions of Russian citizens who were put to death by Stalin, despite the political purges and gulags and Soviet policies that caused a type of artificial famine that killed far more citizens than any natural famine more than once, the current populace said that this Man of Steel was their guy.

Some of those polled had lived through the Stalin era but time, and a little more food and comfort now, had eroded the memory of the hardship, the famines and the purges. In fact, Putin had began extolling the virtues of Stalin about that time and many of these people felt the country needed that type of autocratic leader again. In Putin, they– and, unfortunately, we as well– may have found him.

We all often fall prey to this sort of nostalgia, our memories holding onto a few events of happy triumph here and there through time and discarding the much more numerous days and weeks and months of chaos or drudgery that many of us live through.

Nostalgia is like a beautiful double-edged sword– both wonderful and terrible. Such things should be handled with care.

 

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I opened the YouTube site this morning in hopes of finding a suitable song for this Sunday morning’s musical interlude and it was right there, waiting for me in the recommended section. I began to listen to the song and opened my files to find an image that jibed with the song, at least as I was hearing it in the moment. I opened a file of images from several years back and the first one I looked at felt instantly like a match.

Sometimes things fall into place.

And I appreciate that because there are so many other times when everything is a struggle, when every decision seems clouded with doubt and every action feels out of rhythm. Slog is a word that comes to mind. Just the sound of the word brings to mind the effort required on those difficult days.

But these effortless days wash away all remnants of that word and feeling. I remember that the painting I chose, Only Now, shown at the top being done on such a day in the early days of 2012. It seemed to fall on to the canvas without much assistance or direction on my part. It needed to exist in that moment, needed to find its way into this world.

Needed to find its way home.

Interestingly, this painting has never found a permanent home in this world. It has been at the gallery that represents my work in California for several years now and the ease and freedom in it that makes it a personal favorite for me has never spoken loudly enough to someone who might give it a permanent home. which is not that unusual as some of the paintings that speak to me most personally are often the last to make their way to a new home. Maybe the void in these pieces that need to be filled by the viewer in order to complete them can only be filled by me.

We’ll see.

So this week’s song is fittingly titled Can’t Find My Way Home from Blind Faith back in 1969. Blind Faith, for you youngsters out there, was considered one of the first rock supergroups. The group was comprised of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Rick Grech, all stars in big-name, established bands. They didn’t last long– one album and one tour– but they left a mark, including this song.

Give a listen and have yourself a good day.

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I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

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This painting, Resplendent,  which is now at the West End Gallery, reminds me very much of one of my favorite quotes from Vincent Van Gogh, shown above. Sometimes the beauty of nature sets everything right and wipes away the obscuring webs brought on by things we cannot control, creating a path for an expression of the effect from witnessing that beauty.

In my experience, these moments of clarity are accompanied by that uncertainty to which Van Gogh refers. It is not doubt, however. It is more like the recognition of losing conscious control to an outer (or inner) entity, one where all decisions have been made beyond your waking mind.

As in a dream.

The work at that point just comes seemingly on its own, as though it was meant to be or had a need to exist.

I know this a strained explanation. It’s such a nebulous thing, this act of creating something from what often appears to be nothing, that explanations and definitions often confuse more than clarify.

And maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe the very purpose of art is to make us aware of the mystery and uncertainty of this life. Maybe it shouldn’t be easily explained.

That being said, I will stop now. Have a good day– enjoy the mystery and beauty around you.

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First thing on this Sunday morning, I would like to send out many thanks to Kathy and Joe at the Kada Gallery for hosting my current show as well as to everyone who took the time on a busy Friday evening to come out to attend the opening on Friday evening.

It was good to see and talk with many wonderful folks again and meet many new ones, as well. The response to the work was strong which is gratifying because even though I might feel the show was good that means little unless people react positively to the work.

So, thank you to everyone involved.

This Sunday morning music is a song you most likely haven’t heard from an artist whom you also are probably not aware. It’s titled Pawky and is from the late Dorothy Ashby who was a jazz harpist who is considered one of the most unjustly under loved jazz greats of the 1950’s. I came across her and this track in particular the other day by chance. And it pleased me greatly.

This song has a kind of 50’s jazzy, witchy feeling, like it should have been in the soundtrack of the movie Bell, Book and Candle, the 1958 film about modern day witches in Greenwich Village, starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon. But it was not in the film though I think the title theme poaches elements from this song a bit.

Now, pawky is a British word that means shrewd, tricky or slyly humorous.  I chose the painting here, Pax Domum, that is part of the Kada show not because of the word’s definition but because there is something witchily atmospheric in the sky that reminds me of the sound of this song. Take a look and a listen and see if you agree.

Oh, have a good Sunday.

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For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves…

Hermann Hesse, Trees: Reflections and Poems

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The painting at the top is titled The Spirit Tree and is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, that opens tomorrow at the Kada Gallery. It is 11″ by 15″ on paper.

Trees have always held a firm spot in my heart as symbols of strength, wisdom and calm perseverance. My early memories of childhood often revolved around the black walnut trees in our yard and the hardwoods on the hill behind it. When I was among those trees I felt at home, safely in a realm that moved at pace that was beyond our own idea of time. Ageless.

Even now while the world teeters on the edges of chaos, walking among the trees is a source of great comfort, letting me know that as dire as it may seem this period of time is but a hiccup in the great continuum of the time of trees.

And that is how I look at this piece and the central tree. It stands strong and with an air of ageless wisdom, creating a band of light between the darkness of the earthly dwellings and that of the foreboding sky. As Hesse wrote above, like the most penetrating preacher.

That piece of writing at the top is from Hermann Hesse is from an essay in his book, Trees: Reflections and Poems. It’s a piece of writing that I adore and have posted here before. To read the longer version of this essay  click here.


Sensing the Unseen is now hanging at the Kada Gallery in Erie. The show opens with a reception tomorrow, Friday, December 1, running from 6-9 PM. I will be there to answer your questions or just shoot the breeze. I look forward to seeing and meeting you there.

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“Split the Darkness” -Part of the Kada Gallery Show

Well, the show is in place at the Kada Gallery and I can take a deep breath. Sensing the Unseen opens December 1, this coming Friday evening with a reception that runs from 6-9 PM.

I haven’t done a count but I’ve done a number of solo shows with Kathy and Joe DeAngelo at the Kada Gallery in the almost 22 years I have been showing my work with them. They were only the second gallery to take on my work those many years back and have always been strong advocates for my work so I try to go a bit extra for them. And I believe this show lives up to my wishes.

Here’s a simple slideshow of the show. Take a look and if you can, come out to the gallery this Friday. I look forward to talking with you.

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Sensing the Unseen

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 

― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley

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Omega Tree

Friday is the opening for my show, Sensing the Unseen, at the Kada Gallery. In my opinion, it’s a strong show with some interesting groupings within it. For instance there are several snow scenes, something I normally have done only once in a great while in the past. There was something different in painting these scenes this time however, something I can’t really identify except to say that these seemed more expressive right as the paint left the brush.

I really just enjoyed painting these. Finding the subtle colors in the white of the snow and sky was fascinating and rewarding. It just felt good as I definitely was immersed during the process.

Time is short today as I am delivering the show at the Kada Gallery, but I thought I would show the group of snow paintings together here. Come out to the gallery to see them in person. They always look better up close, in front of you, rather than on a screen.

Mystery of the Unseen

Through the Valley of Quiet

Cool Wonder

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