Today marks the beginning of the dark season. The veil between life and death is at its thinnest. Everything seems to be moving into that period of stasis, growing season is over, the harvest is in and life appears to recede into the darkness and the darkness envelopes it.
As the season moves on, I think of it as a time for reflection, and for many early cultures, it was the time for storytelling and sharing a culture’s past. I have come across some very interesting thoughts on the significance of words and art – how they work together and how they compete in terms of defining culture. On his blog, Clint Watson discussed the importance of stories to the context of an artist and their work and how it might help sales (see article here). On Arti’s Blog “Ripple Effects“, the idea of the Visual replacing the Word is explored in terms of how literacy is not just the written word, but also the recognition of visual symbols. (Arti also looks at how the movies model scenes after great art to achieve a deeper meaning.)
Now that several days have passed and I have had an opportunity to reflect on the McMichael show, certain conversations I had on opening night are returning to my mind. One such conversation was with a friend and very talented stained glass artist, Evelyn Wolff. Evelyn participated in the exhibition I curated in stained glass in 2004. (See her work here)
Evelyn asked me about the spiritual nature of my work. To look at my paintings of old homesteads and intense skies, one might not see it as spiritual in nature in the same way the use of traditional cultural symbols might convey. I am driven by something deep inside of me to portray these empty places. To some, the feeling is immediate and the painting may not tell my story or even the story of the place itself; it often tells them some of their own story. These places reach into me and demand of me to recognize what is important and that all of it is ephemeral. The loneliness and existential questions of a Hopper (Arti’s term was existential loneliness) or Hammershøi painting reach across time because even though they may be paintings of old places and people that no longer exist – or may have never existed, they reflect something of the human condition. They are Allegory.
“Window Seat” is moment in time, frozen, as if the owner of the chair just left for a second. The space, the air remains still and time expands like a meditation. The moment. Nothing else exists. What came before and what will follow do not matter. I wonder if that would answer her question?
The story of the house is beneath the painting in the link above. The story of my discovery of the house goes back years but I only had the courage to enter it last Spring and that story is here. What’s your story?
I thought I would include some of the music I was listening to when I was inspired to write this post:
- Sleepless, Marnconi Union
- Chill, Jazz Fiction
- Simple Song, Lyle Lovett
- Deep Peace, Stephen Halpern