17 Dec Recent Discovery of Awe-Inspiring American Paintings

I recently made a visit to the Book Mill in Montague, MA, where I discovered a variety of paintings by American artists, paintings that really struck me. Among them:
– John Ferguson Weir, Forging The Shaft, at the Met
– Thomas Pollack Anshutz, Iron Workers at Noontime
– George Bellows, Pennsylvania Station Excavation, at Brooklyn Museum
– Winslow Homer, Song of the Lark, 1876
– William T. Carlton, Cider Mill, 1855
I especially loved the Pennsylvania Station Excavation, which Bellows painted in the winter. It reminded me of so many of the demolished buildings of Philadelphia, and their resulting gaping cellar holes, with towering brick shells from as-yet-undestroyed walls. I miss painting this kind of subject matter, warehouse cathedrals from the nineteenth century.
Tuesday morning, I checked out the ongoing power outage at my home, and was excited by the large-scale activity of the DPW, in particular the folks who restore power. Their huge trucks were beacons of hope, and in some ways I wish I had been better-organized to make sketches. The combination of the roadways littered with branches and splintered trees, and their human efforts at sorting the mess out, was very appealing to my painterly sense of chaos.
I continue to wrestle with the challenge of painting the McDonald’s ensemble. The branch that I visited yesterday had one of those children’s play slides that was a tangle of multicolored tubes and spheres that looked more to me like a cancerous intestine than a fun time. It really is a major new challenge to create order out of this plastic chaos.