Monday, June 8, 2015

"Contemporary Figuration", Abend Gallery, Denver June 12, 2015 - July 3, 2015

I'm really excited to say that my big painting "Goodnight Moon" is featured in the upcoming "Contemporary Figuration" show opening this Friday (June 12, 2015) at Abend Gallery, Denver
"Goodnight Moon", oil, 64" x 48"

I loved working on this large panel. I've done two of them, with a similar theme. (The other one is "Compline", see here.)

Both paintings are about nurturing children, motherhood and loss. It seems to me that nurturing and protecting children is a subject that isn't addressed too often in the art world I find myself in. Is the subject of motherhood itself kitschy? Maybe it's too sentimental a subject, or not edgy enough, or sexy enough, to attract a certain type of collector. Maybe I should have painted her nude, except I really wanted that black and blue shape against the rust background. The darkness of the coat feels so somber to me.

A young woman saw this painting and told me that she thought it was about a young woman leaving childhood behind, boldly going forth into the world as a strong adult. That's a terrific interpretation of the painting and I like it. It's not what I was thinking when I painted it, but that's okay with me. Generally, I'm happy with people liking my work with whatever meaning they want to ascribe to it.

I wanted this painting to feel monumental and have some dignity, despite the floppiness of the stuffed animals. These are toys from my own children, except for the horse on the right, that's from my own childhood. Its heels are plastic and they click together when you wave the horse around. That sound is enough to take me back a few decades. I'm amazed that I still have that toy.

Anyway, the toys are symbols of childhood and children. The hoop is a well-known, often used symbol of the cycle of life, in front of a kind of palimpsest of a lost and found background, suggesting that things can be lost and perhaps found again, the present bears witness to the past, and that the past and future are intertwined inexorably.

Here's a photo of the ad for the show in a recent issue of Southwest Art Magazine:

There are a lot of terrific artists and paintings in the show, I hope you can make it up to Denver for the opening.

[Edit: Fine Art Connoisseur has a story on the Abend Contemporary Figuration show in their most recent newsletter here .]