Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jack In The Pulpit Studio- Deux: And It Begins

The move has begun!  I have occupied 1022 Burgess for a month now.  The renovations are beginning, but before I share any of that its time to show some "before" pictures. Above is a view from the sidewalk in front of the house. This photo is actually from a couple years ago and the tree growing right next to the house has gotten much bigger and will be coming down to make way for a front porch.

These are all "before" pictures - as in before the construction.  But I will let you know that these were taken after cleaning the house. There was a lot of debris: garbage on the floor, dishes in the sink, and even a full medicine cabinet.

This is a view of the bathroom door from the living room.  Mind you, the house is only 19 feet by 18 feet, so none of these rooms are of much size. The shelving on the right actually houses the end of the bathtub that extends a foot into the living room. The bathroom is so small I couldn't take a picture from inside of it.

The ladder-steps lead to a loft space. You cannot stand up in the loft and it is about big enough for a queen size mattress. The desk was left behind.  Does anyone need a desk?

This is the kitchen. To the left is the back door. It is so small you can't fit a normal appliance, much less two or three.

Here you start getting a view of one of the interesting parts of the house.  The lofted ceiling is covered with tongue in groove boards.  It gives the lofted space a nice homey feeling. I will be opening up the space (i.e. removing walls) so the ceiling is more prominent. 

The back yard where a giant oak tree was cut down last year. You can see the stump to the left.  Lots of weed trees in and around the sheds. No gardens - that will be changing very soon!

Front steps are a bit wonky because some trees grew up under the railing and heaved them to the left. Trees are gone.  Next: remove the roots and straighten out the steps again.

Here are some more weed trees out the back door. All that green is buckthorn seedlings! Yikes! I better get in there. And what abandoned house wouldn't be complete without a stray dog. Oh, wait, that's my sweet Delilah. Pile of bricks in the background will hopefully have enough good ones to create a brick walkway to the front door.

As I make progress there will be updates here at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio, at my blog and on the Facebook Page. Join the fun!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let 'Em In

I like to listen to music when I am painting.  Lately, I have been enjoying listening to the best of the Beatles after they were done being the Beatles. I have compiled the four "Best of..." cd's of John, Paul, George and Ringo. These four musicians really are amazing. Amazing as individuals, but what strikes me is the consistency of message from the years of being the Beatles. There is the usual stereotyping that John has the heavy political message, Paul sings about love, George is spiritual and Ringo is, well,... just Ringo. But that is not the case when you listen to their music. Even after breaking up, the four of them continued singing about love, community, togetherness, forgiveness, and the positive possibility of what could be.

Yes, I am aging.  I am in my fifties and am a Beatles fan. I am of my era, and I am at a stage in life where I am questioning my experience so far. There is much talk about the Woodstock generation (a little older than me) and a general sense that they "sold out" -  gave up on their idealism as they aged. Some say they did even more, that they undermined their own revolution.

I'm not sure my generation had ideals. We came of age in the disco/cocaine sniffing/clubbing days of the late seventies and early eighties - not that I or most people in the country had that experience.  That apparently was what was happening in all the cultural hotspots on the coasts. Not a world full of ideals - hedonism was the theme of the day. At the time, I was too shy and fearful of life to notice what it all really meant. But I do know that our culture has not had spokespeople like the Beatles since their loss. When I hear current cultural stars talking with a communal perspective it seems canned, groomed to be acceptable instead of being an antithesis to the larger culture (I will acknowledge Ani DeFranco here as being way cool). They are not in-your-face with their entire being. The Beatles started as nice boys wearing suits and singing about love. Eventually, they became these guys who grew their hair long, wore outrageous clothing, talked tongue in cheek about their fame, sang about a backward social order and insisted on having their experience on their own terms. To see them, you could tell they were an antithesis to the larger culture. But this was the pre-glam era, it was a little easier to be noticed for wearing outrageous clothing.

I think about meaning, as an artist. Am I simply making paintings for an audience or am I painting in a manner that reflects and encourages our society? I was given advice many years ago by a painting instructor: landscapes sell. Of course, I refused to paint landscapes. Instead I painted about mass-murderers, riots and missing body parts - in the guise of landscapes. Nothing sold. Hmm.

Then I painted about oppression and the holiness of life. Nothing sold.
Then I talked about "The Land" by making artwork with objects from nature. Nothing sold.
Then I started painting botanicals.  I sold a handful and then nothing.
Then I started painting about food. Nothing sold.
Recently, I've been painting landscapes.  They've been selling. Who knew?

I do not worry if I am "selling out" for making landscapes.  I am painting about the experience I have in nature, in particular in Northern Minnesota. To me, it is related to love.  It is something that touches my soul, like a waking dream - Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé. More than anywhere else, the North is where I have sat back and thought there is no where else in the world I would rather be. There is no time, days are meaningless. Anger is futile - it solves nothing! Love is all around. Not romantic love, although sometimes that is there, but love of all that is. Perhaps it is more aptly described as oneness. There is no contention, no division, no competition. Problems simply become annoyances, annoyances become a puzzle to solve or a fleeting moment to be ignored. Healing outweighs hurt. A broken heart gets to beat uninterrupted. The past is not released, but becomes the foundation on which all the good of the day grows. Breathing, itself, becomes a meditation.

My quest is to hold this perspective in my mind when I am in the City, when I am in the midst of my daily life. My vehicle is my art and the contemplation associated with this task. The Beatles help me hold this perspective with their music and with who they were. The following are excerpts from some of their songs I find particularly helpful. A year long meditation could be done on the first line of John's lyrics below. How would it change your life to come to truly know that "love is the answer and you know that for sure?"

John Lennon - Mind Games
"Love is the answer and you know that for sure.
Yes, is the answer, and you know that for sure.
Yes, is surrender, you gotta let it go."

Ringo Starr - Fading In and Fading Out
"Tell me, why we're here?
All we really need is love
And when I disappear
I pray that I have left enough

Fading in, fading out, isn't that what life's about?
First you're here, then you're gone
Still the world goes on and on."

George Harrison - Isn't It a Pity
Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn't it a pity

Paul McCartney - Let 'Em In
"Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let 'em in."

Monday, May 1, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio - April 2017

Since the last Cooking entry, I have completed another painting in my Sinkside Compost Series. I have a container next to my sink for food scraps. I have been making paintings on panels of this container.  This one includes asparagus stems with a blue rubberband around them, egg shells and a very dark banana peel that is hard to detect (left side of painting).

I have been trying to find just the right onion rings for a painting as a companion piece for [Cigs, Twigs and Fries]( I finally found them at a place in Saint Paul that we call [The Nook]( I can't tell you how they taste, as I didn't try them.  But they have just the right visual texture and size for what I envisioned. The painting includes onion rings, uncooked spaghetti noodles and compasses.

The compasses belonged to my father and are part of a set he had from an engineering drafting class he took at the University of Minnesota around 1950. I like that these are part of the painting as my dad was always up for going out to eat. We often ordered onion rings. The painting is 30" x 40" and will be in the upcoming exhibit at Banfille-Locke Art Center.