“Sisyphus Screwed” (2019, 42” x 45”) is the painter’s annual holiday greeting. Some of you will receive a paper copy via USPS. There, some rather tortured prose on its reverse attempts to fit the work into seasonal traditions within a current political atmosphere where peace and brotherly love are not prospering. Perhaps, viewed here, the struggle between the tall evergreen and the intrusion of man made machines speaks for itself?
What was it caused the painter to go back to work on Aboard despite its present lack of relevance for any conceivable audience? Philippe’s apparent wonder at visions revealed by the moving train? An experiment to see if Catherine’s blurred hand could make the Empire Builder move? Memories of John posing for the arms and hands of the waiter? Her own love for grapefruit? The color vermillion?
It all started some years ago with the red couch, a case of incipient disorder, an inside turned outside, in a town (it turned out) poised for the present descent of real estate agents and de/construction enterprises. Sketches were made, photographs taken in all kinds of weather, a stretcher frame built and blank canvas pulled over it. An initial layer of paint was applied. The result was run past friends. Enthusiasm was lacking. “Order on Marion Street” went to the bottom of the unfinished pile until April this year. The good news is that with this latest effort the painter’s collection of work that needs work has diminished by one more item. Call it a study in symmetries and their disruption or absence, and consider the closing lines of Wallace Stevens’ A Connoisseur of Chaos:
Limited as it is to just two tall buildings, the great beyond of downtown Seattle apparent through the gate central to “Transport” is a superannuated image. Indeed, this canvas picked up its first layer of paint sometime before that area sprouted its present crop of skyscrapers.
An expert spinner of Tales, the painter’s brother has been known to step over a few fictional lines. Eyes are rolled; coughs stifled. “Well,” he’ll say, “at least part of it’s true anyway.” His sister here on Seattle’s 16th Ave. has certainly stretched a few verities in this painting with its hyperbolic Hydra of a backhoe and its transport of the iconic Jimi Hendrix statue from Broadway to her own Seattle street. She hopes this performance will not affect her standing in the Webmaster’s list of “realist painters!”
This canvas lingered about the studio unfinished for eight years. Evidence for its outdated reality can be seen in the brick house (memorialized earlier in “Red Couch,” 2013) on the NW corner of East Marion Street and 14th Ave. now a fictional dwelling. A second clue, a date (April 2011) scribbled on the back of the photographic model for the innocent consumer of the “fruit of that forbidden tree,” supports this history. Meanwhile, the painter noticed only yesterday that the house on the southwest corner of that intersection is now boarded up, apparently awaiting its “development.”