The development of each painting is a bit like writing a vital moment in a scene of a play. Many of my friends are actors and directors. I have taken cues from their work and from my love of film. Often my friends and family offer inspiration. They are part themselves/part actors in a drama that comes from an observed moment preserved in a photo or drawing, but with time, transforms into something larger than that moment. In "I wanted yellow singing and the sun", I capture a connection that is strong but a moment of non-connection as well that cuts deeply. The painting "what is left of myself" also shares in this dual communication.
Here the architecture of the room and the placement of the figures declares them in trouble. Their separation is palpable. And in "with the sun dreaming old battles", I was sitting where you stand as you view the painting, across the table witnessing a moment of discomfort between a brother and sister. They are both displeased but intensely tied to each other. The male's face becomes a mask. He closes off in every way. She has said something uncomfortable but then thinks twice. Her posture, bathed in light, is beginning to change and retreat from the comment. This is the kitchen we grew up in. Loaded with the memories and tensions of family.
A social/political level appears in much of my newest work, considering what we are passing on to our children. The bottom of the painting "we were never children like your children" was begun after seeing a lynching postcard from 1920 at The Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The writing on this postcard mentioned going to this public lynching, then also to church before eating peach pie with the family. How do we take a child to a lynching, pose for the camera and then go on with our family and Sunday spiritual activities?
We must all face such questions even if we feel we would not act in this way or, incorrectly, that this is in the past and no longer a present concern. After much study and reading, these questions have lead to the questioning of the use of prisons in our culture: how they affect each individual, their families and our country as a whole. We have to ask what it means to live in a world that equates justice with punishment and punishment with confinement and does not hand out this confinement equally across the population. The freedom to express ourselves and to make our own decisions is vital to a good life. It is time to rethink and reinvent everything. To reconsider what we reveal to each other and to our young.
The lines of poetry used as titles for many of these paintings are all from one book of poems by Charles Bukowski, "The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills". The line is chosen as a title when the work is complete to add an additional layer of meaning, opening the narrative even further. It is not an illustration of the line or poem. I found this book of poems on a Central Park bench decades ago. I spent the entire day there drawing and no one came to claim it. I didn't know the poet at the time but I found something there immediately. Years later, I see his work as an example of bringing narrative back into art after the pure abstraction of Modernism. His poems offered me a clue to open my own life as a source for my work and as a reminder that the male perspective is often different from the female. To never forget that each individual sees the world in their own way. And most importantly, how to move past the personal to a more universal reading of the moment.