Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Studio Progress

Welcome to Sarajevo
Oil on canvas, 24"x30"

My painting Welcome to Sarajevo is in the "Mayhem" juried show in Arlington, Virginia.  "Mayhem" is this month's exhibit at Gallery Underground in Crystal City.  The theme is mayhem and chaos of all sorts: conflict, domestic strife, burnt breakfast, rush hour traffic, you name it.  My painting is a quiet mayhem, the aftereffect of really violent actions, so it will be interesting to see how it is received.

Welcome to Sarajevo was an important painting for me.  It marked a shift from my political satire series to something that I hoped would be more significant.  The satirical paintings were fun to do, but there were two serious issues with them.  One, they required that I get really angry about something, usually about politicians who were running the country into the ground.  Getting angry was key to getting the vicious, snarky, and cutting commentary that came out in the paintings.  After a while, getting angry was just draining, and I needed to get away from it for my own sanity.  The other issue is that satire is very time-sensitive.  I found that a lot of the works were irrelevant after several months.  The issues changed, people left, and suddenly a painting that I worked on for weeks no longer had anything to say.

So I started the "Meditation on War" series.  War is, unfortunately, timeless.  It will always be with us in one fashion or another.  The paintings focus on the aftermath of combat, the things and people that are left.  The works were initially a counter to the rabid pro-war drumbeat that was part and parcel of the Iraq invasion.  If you want to go to war, you ought to think about what the consequences are going to be.  People die.  People get hurt in ways that affect them for the rest of their lives.  Stuff gets torn up, often stuff that can't be replaced.  Incredible amounts of money and resources are wasted.  And it always goes on for longer than you think it will.  I'm not anti-war or anti-military: there are times when we really do have to go to war to stop something worse from happening.  Desert Storm was an example.  But wars we don't have to fight shouldn't be fought.

It looks like I'll continue to do paintings for this series for quite a while.  I just started a new one today.  Didn't really mean to, but there it was ...

Yesterday I finished and signed the painting about my friend Pete, who was a Marine in Viet Nam.  It's done, finally, the first in my new series of paintings about survivors.  Now I need to come up with a title.  And also yesterday, I painted over the other artwork-in-progress from the survivor series.  It wasn't going anywhere except downhill.  Gotta start from scratch on something I've been working on since September.  It will get there, I just don't know how or when.

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