Tuesday, June 25, 2013

64th Rochester-Fingerlakes Exhibition

Hot Summer Sky, 48 x 66 inches, oil on canvas.

Later this week I'll drop off the painting above at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, for its 64th Rochester-Fingerlakes exhibit. Hot Summer Sky was accepted into the show, and I was asked to provide a statement to go along with it.

An artist's statement is one of the biggest pains in the ass you can imagine having to write. Always concerns over being honest, and at the same time hoping you hit the mark in what those making judgments are hoping and expecting to read, to have the right artistic gravitas. Yet not be sounding like a pompous ass.

Or, comfortably plopped into middle-age, you can hopefully leave those concerns behind, all but the honesty.

So, here's what I wrote:

Hot Summer Sky

15 years ago I stood in the beautiful, vaulted space of a massive hay barn in eastern Oregon. I was there with my wife, Darby Knox, to introduce her to my extended family, my mother's aunts and uncles. I stood next to her, in this place I'd visited frequently while growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I'd played there as a child, and was left misty eyed over the life I'd missed, in this gorgeous country, amongst people I loved and admired so much. Darby said quietly, Why don't you paint any barns? They are spectacular.

I kind of scoffed at the idea. They're kitschy, I replied, maybe the most over-exposed subject in American painting.

She gave me a bump and a smile, and said, They don't have to be.

And that's where it started for me, a new body of work. Trying to take a common subject and make it something new. To turn a subject of sweet nostalgia and American pie into something contemporary and iconic, representational to an extent, but imbued with the energy and surface of expressionism. 

For me they are monuments to people like my aunts and uncles, men and women who greeted the day the same way they did their nephew, with smothering hugs, bone crushing handshakes, and enthusiasm for the life at hand.

As for kitsch, as a good friend of mine says of his prodigious storytelling, The facts are just the jumping off point.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Life's been crazy!?!?!

Can't believe it's been a month and a half since I posted, but then I think about the month and a half, and I realize, Well, yeah.

Silver Creek II, 32 x 40 inches, oil on linen, and now living in Texas.

First a trip to Texas for a show, where 8 paintings found new homes. I couldn't have been happier, and the temperature was a beautiful, balmy 70 degrees all weekend, making it a comfortable visit as well.

Once I was home, we raced down to NYC to meet miss Madeleine Grace Rogers, who made me forget all about how terrific Texas had been.

Then home again, and to the opening of the 6 x 6 show at RoCo (Rochester Contemporary) in Rochester. It it their annual fund raising event, and artists from all over the world donate pieces that are sold for $20.00 each to benefit the gallery. I participated this year to support the gallery, but I had my own more important reason- my son Todd donated a piece and it would be our first chance to exhibit in the same show. His piece sold at the chaotic opening night frenzy, as did one of mine. The other is still available at  http://www.roco6x6.org/6x6x2013.php, # 3220, a mono type of a horse. It can be purchased online, and the money goes to a great cause- supporting the arts in a very difficult market.
And finally we headed to North Carolina for a family celebration of my mother's 80th birthday, and an early Father's Day with my dad. A quick but wonderful trip to see my family who means so much to me, and maybe most fun of all, to watch the next generation cousins all get a long and laugh so easily.

In between all that, about 28 paintings have been slowly, (in some cases with much blood, sweat and tears), coming together. I'll try and tell you about that a little sooner, rather than my more typical later.

Spring is near ending, and I feel like it's passed me by. But the coyotes were out and singing last night, as loud and close as I've ever heard. Life goes on.