Miscellaneous (selected early works)

click images to see enlargement

Face It, Baby #2 Face It, Baby #2
1992, acrylic on canvas, 50" x 42"



Between (My Ferragamo scarf) Between (My Ferragamo scarf)
1994, oil on canvas, 18" x 20"

 


On a Somewhat Less Altruistic Note On a Somewhat Less Altruistic Note...
1994-98, mixed media, 5" x 7" each; 13" x 11" each, with frame
(triptych, custom framed)
sold



Half Dozen Half Dozen
1997, oil on canvas, 3" x 4"
sold



Egg Study #5 Egg Study #5
1998, oil on canvas, 4" x 6" oval
sold

 


Orchid, fading #2Orchid, fading #2 (before revision)
2003-07, colored pencil, encaustic on birch panel, 12" x 12"
study, nfs

 


Untitled (leaf)Untitled (leaf)
2003, colored pencil on ash panel, (4.75 in. x 7 in.)
sold

 

Statement

While still a painting major at the San Francisco Art Institute, I made several surreal, symbolic, surrealistic paintings of human infants and/or skeletons under water. These were not meant to be morbid, nor did I intend them to be disturbing (Face It, Baby).

This archetypal imagery came to me in the early 1990's, during meditation encounters with the subconscious, while I was enrolled in a course called "Art, Spirit, Psyche," with the San Francisco Art Institute. It was very much like watching an old, monochromatic, World War II newsreel: while still awake, but with my eyes closed, I clearly saw a living infant (no, not a fetus), floating quite calmly in some sort of liquid; the child moved its limbs quite freely, so it was not amniotic fluid but some large body of water. The baby was clearly not drowned. It was alive and comfortable in this element.

When I was painting my first impression from this vision, a stranger came up to watch me, as I worked in one of the S.F.A.I. studios. He stood there for some time.

"You obviously don't have kids, do you?" he finally asked me. "No, I don't," I replied, turning to him with a smile. His jaw clenched. "I didn't THINK so!" he huffed, storming out of the studio. I can only imagine that the poor fellow must have thought I was callously painting a drowning or drowned baby. (And, to be fair, there was quite a lot of morbid student artwork on display then; dismembered figures were particularly popular at the time.)

Years later, while researching Celtic stories for my current work, I found a reference to Taliesin as a "child emerging from the sea." Later, I read of other cultures which also feature a water baby or hero. Perhaps my subconscious had tapped into that. I have been present at a few births, as well as deaths, so I do know firsthand that these significant moments of entry and exit to and from this world are often deeply profound, or even sacred.

The Latin American cultures in San Francisco's Mission district, where I lived, were also an influence on my imagery. Mexico's Dios de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrated annually on November 2, follows on the heels of All Saint's Day and All Hallow's Eve (what we now call Hallowe'en). While painting my early works, the immortal triad of human existence (Time, Love, and Death) would frequently surface, often reflecting traditional Mexican Vanitas (Between (My Feragamo scarf ) and Cupid, Being Stupid). Whether we are viewing a portrait, a still life, a landscape, or an abstract image, it may be permeated with potential and/or loss, as the painter, Mark Rothko, conveyed through his abstract works.

A tiny mixed-media triptych, using photographs I took of Fred, my plastic skeleton model, lying in the snow near Lake Tahoe (On A Somewhat Less Altruistic Note...) and the Cupid paintings, were originally inspired by a sequence of events I'd experienced on Dios de Los Muertos. But the child of Venus and Mars is NOT a cherub, and is definitely not any sort of of angel. I suspect Christianity, and the commercialization of St. Valentine's Day, both did Cupid a kind of disservice, if not entirely undeserved (see Cupids). Many classical paintings feature cute little Putti, which are depicted as, chubby, lily-white toddlers; they're sometimes confusingly mis-labelled as cupids (more about all this by Jonathan Kurtzman and Doug Newsom in Quora).

I feel that the tale of Cupid and Psyche was made most personal and clear in the timeless work, Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis.


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