03 Feb Immense AoA Gratitude

I remade my proposal sketch for Marriage : American Split four times in preparation for last Fridays final oral presentation for AoA in Montpelier and it is still very much a work in progress. This theme was one of five other interrelated themes I proposed which also resulted in endless redoing . But for me the content based on Gay Marriage is the most significant.The challenge of designing this piece is twofold: the placement of three distinct pairs of figures and using formal symbols / metaphors to consider the division and controversy over same sex marriage in Vermont. Trying to unify these disparate and particular elements has been an enormous stretch for me taking my usual mode of executing work into unknown territory. As I have said before, I am reasonably comfortable drawing the figure. However, painting the figure on a larger scale with detailed specificity will begin will require enormous experimentation and perseverance. I have no formula for such descriptive painting and I suppose I never will. I am very excited to have this opportunity and challenge ahead of me and believe it will launch my work into a new personal direction. Ultimately I think the impact of a painting has mysterious origins and the content never precedes artistic form but in the case of Marriage :American Split I was inspired by Harvey Milks voice on Civil rights issues.

I was very well organized for my oral presentation but perhaps was overly obsessive about presenting too many ideas. I had ten minutes in which to present my materials and instead of keeping it simple I burdened myself as well as the panelists with a lot of visuals. I was like a whirling dervish trying to cover my wall of art work representing 8 portrait sketches,6 (30×40 ) charcoal/pastel drawings, 2 (31×31) oil paintings and a host of art historical influences. Never the less I was sincere and emphatic in my expression and though I would have preferred to have freed myself up from my materials and simply talk from my heart I still managed to effectively communicate.

Immediately following my presentation my heart sank because I thought I had shot myself in the foot by a rather crude detail I exampled for Marriage: American Split. I risked sharing a bumper sticker slogan I frequently saw in Windham County during the creation of the Civil Union in Vermont. It reads as follows: “Real Vermonters shovel shit , they don’t pack it”. I was especially alarmed because of the eight panelist four were men and upon question/answer time they remained stone silent. In contrast to the chatty discourse with which they engaged other artists I was convinced I had hit against a conservative wall.

I was quite upset by this over the weekend until upon sharing my concern with Reverend Thomas Brown he asked was I in integrity with the content of the quote I had shared? I thought not entirely…. that I was recognizing a deep seated fear and shame within myself about the vivid and graphic words described by the slogan and I was projecting my discomfort onto the panelists.

I learned that never was there a mention about the slogan or any concern over the Gay Marriage motif. But rather, given a commission to execute four of the six themes, I was asked to exclude Schools: Inside Roof Trusses. The panelists felt that I would need to be present to explain to the public how the points of the triangular truss pointed to the battle over fiscal turf between locals, state and federal government. I think that this is a mute point and that the classic stature of the carpenter with hammer and nail rising out of the golden stack of Roof Trusses was a dynamic image and one reminiscent of a laborer conceived by Diego Rivera. I think I will execute this theme as a painting any way and perhaps donate it as an additional part of the suite.