Thursday, May 23, 2013
Eleven years ago I graduated from School of Visual Arts. Our commencement speaker was Ronan Tynan, an Irish tenor with an uplifting life story, but I admit I don't remember anything of the speech beyond urging us to follow our visions and dreams, followed by a rousing rendition of "Summertime" (..and the living is easy, etc). I felt proud of my achievement, especially after clawing my way through continuous financial and emotional roadblocks to acquire those skills and experiences. I was even more moved and cheered by having my entire, loving family meet me in the city to celebrate at the Boathouse in Central Park.
At that point I was quite ready to move on- still loving the city and wanting to make art, but not even sure if I would be making art for a 'living', or incorporate it into something else. I did some creative-ish jobs that I mostly enjoyed (another story), during which my own production slowed. Eventually I painted more consistently and I make about half my modest living from my art. More than some people manage, less than others. It's a struggle sometimes, and yet I feel happy, energized and close to my truest self when I am painting or gathering inspiration.
I found excerpts from Greil Marcus's commencement speech this year at SVA:
"...What art does — maybe what it does most completely — is tell us, make us feel that what we think we know, we don’t. There are whole worlds around us that we’ve never glimpsed.
I think we all have this little theatre on top of our shoulders, where the past and the present and our aspirations and our memories are simply and inevitably mixed. What makes each one of us unique, is the potency of the individual mix.
...That’s what art does, that’s what it’s for — to show you that what you think can be erased, cancelled, turned on its head by something you weren’t prepared for — by a work, by a play, a song, a scene in a movie, a painting, a collage, a cartoon, an advertisement — something that has the power that reaches you far more strongly than it reaches the person standing next to you, or even anyone else on Earth — art that produces a revelation that you might not be able to explain or pass on to anyone else, a revolution that you desperately try to share in your own words, in your own work.
"…What’s the impulse behind art? It’s saying in whatever language is the language of your work, “If I could move you as much as it moved me … if I can move anyone a tenth as much as that moved me, if I can spark the same sense of mystery and awe and surprise as that sparked in me, well that’s why I do what I do.”
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It's a 1960 Edsel Ranger. ("new~ nifty~ thrifty") I would like to find one of those hubcaps with the 'E' in the middle.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Said the blue International, "I'm in this 2013 calendar, and she painted me a couple of years ago in New Mexico, but I've been around awhile."
"Well, how old ARE you?" asked the Chrysler.
"I'm not sure, because she's the one who's writing this conversation, and despite her appreciation for trucks she doesn't know what year I am," replied the pickup. "And you?"
"As you may have assumed, I'm a '41. Only six of us were made! And one was the pace car in the Indy 500 that year. Well, I'd say we're both looking good. Here's to the future!" cheered Chrysler.
"Yes," agreed the blue International. "And here's to the past!"
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
My friend's dad sent me a box- not just any shoebox, but an old Hot Rod Kit box- filled with pictures of cars clipped from magazines and pamphlets from the 50's and 60's, mostly. He'd visited the gallery in Feb and saw my work, and thought I would appreciate this long-accumulated collection of images and booklets. Some are illustrations, some are photographs that, because of the way they're printed and colored, look like paintings. The descriptions accompanying these pictures are enthusiastic and extravagant in their language. I sat on the floor, sifting through the pile, as dozens of painstakingly-scissored paper automobiles fluttered out from between the pages. Some with beaming people behind the wheel, their animals and luggage at the ready, their eager children in the backseat.
I could probably write a lot more on this- what was the deal with these boatlike cars and their vast interiors, the fins and the chrome, the huge rounded fenders and showy details? The paint jobs, the curvy grilles, even on 'ordinary' vehicles. I don't even know much at all about the history of the automobile. I just really like these cars and trucks. This is some rich source material, brought up from the basement and delivered to me for inspiration.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
A year ago I respectfully repainted Beacon's dummy light-- see this post -- and it has weathered well, only sustaining a few minor scuffs and scratches. I still had the cans of leftover paint, so this morning I gave the base a quick touch-up. Felt like I needed to follow up, maintain what I had started. It didn't take long. Turned out that some early-morning paparazzi caught me, from a distance, in the act, but then all was peaceful.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I'm promoting these limited-run t-shirts in conjunction with Beacon's centennial this month. There are lots of events planned in the next couple of weeks to celebrate Beacon's 100th birthday. (Though the rich history goes back way further than that, when the city was two separate towns, Matteawan and Fishkill Landing.)
The shirt's design is based on a watercolor I did in 2008, from an old photograph that a longtime Beacon local had loaned to me. The faded black-and-white portrayed this group of workmen posed in front of a Texaco truck. There used to be a Texaco research center in nearby Glenham.. and that's all I know about the image. Naturally I liked the truck but I was also drawn to the men's expressions, their stances and their clothes. To me the image also evokes a Beacon that was once home to many different industries, a place you could live, work, and conduct your daily business.
It is locally printed in brown ink on a 'sustainable edition' American Apparel organic cotton off-white t-shirt. Most sizes. I am selling them as a centennial special for $10, and they are available by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org (for shipping or local pickup), or at Catalyst Gallery (137 Main St).
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
These aren't based on real landscapes I've observed; they're a blend of reference material and imagining. It took me a while to understand the scale- but I'm starting to get what they want. They said, We want to see your own style-- what would you paint? I had to remember how to tap into my illustration mentality, which was never that highly trained to begin with. I don't think I was ever a natural at following directions (one might say). Even though some have said that my paintings, with their precision, decidedly reflect an illustrator's hand.
These scans don't represent very well the shading and color in the originals. I will say, however, that doing these watercolors gave me the notion of going outside and painting landscapes I'm actually looking at, which I rarely do. I think it's because as much as I love nature and being outside, I usually leave that depiction to the landscape painters and photographers. I painted these scenes with the idea that they would be used as background to telling a story.