Saturday, January 24, 2015

2 paintings at the i.d.e.a. museum

I dropped off two paintings at Craters & Freighters (who are awesome by the way) to ship out to Mesa, Arizona for the i.d.e.a. Museum's upcoming exhibition "Build It". The paintings will be included as part of the official guided tour of the exhibition. The museum asked me to send a little more information about the paintings for the tour guides to reference in talking about the work. So I thought I'd share that here.

"Under The Bridge" was a painting I originally did some 6 years ago but I reworked it it ever so slightly up for inclusion in this exhibition.
"Under the Bridge"  2008-2014  oil on canvas  51" x 33"
I've always liked the undersides of bridges despite their propensity to attract dirty blankets and empty bottles, the detritus of homelessness.  There is something discrete and private about being under a bridge which is no doubt what attracts the homeless in the first place. In fairy tales trolls are said to live under bridges. To live somewhere is for it be a home, the opposite of homelessness. The St. Johns bridge in Portland, which is the basis for this painting is unusual. It's not really a hidden place at all. There's nowhere for the homeless to secretly huddle, no place for a to troll to live. There's a little road that goes under it right up against a low wall. But what's behind that wall? I couldn't help picturing it with a low door and window, and an inviting porch light, something to make the underside of the bridge a little more homey.

"Hovel"  2012  oil on canvas 34" x 50"
"Hovel" was the first painting I completed at a residency program called Playa in Summer Lake, Oregon. It was my first residency and I was anxious to get to work right away but I had no idea what to paint or how to absorb the environment I found myself in. On the property there was a root cellar just as you see in the painting only the landscape around it was wide open high desert ranch land. I was used to painting scenes set in forests. I wasn't ready to tackle all that empty space so I relocated the root cellar to the woods and in my mind imagined it as a home, a refuge for some monk-like character in a story out of Grimm. Or perhaps just a place to be left alone to work (like the residency itself).

I'd rather be alone in an isolated cabin than with many people in a mansion. Of course. I'm an introvert. But the appeal of small secret hidden homes goes beyond that. It is an artifact of childhood perhaps. What young boy does not desire a tree house to call his own, or imagine discovering a cave in which to hide out? Such places represent not only secrecy and safety, but independence from the world of adults, the world of responsibility. As such they are not just retreats but access points to adventure, to exploration and discovery. As an adult exploration and adventure exist for me more internally than externally, and so such places are powerful metaphors for my desire to go ever deeper into my own imaginings and intellectual curiosity.

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