North Braddock Houses (Numbers 1 and 2)

 

These pictures put my at 1/3 the way through of my goal to do six paintings in six weeks! 

I recently got a show at Unsmoke Systems Artspace for May 2021. The deal is that I have to have a whole show of paintings that haven’t been displayed before. Two years is a long time, but for the last few years I’ve been averaging one painting every six weeks. Hence, the project to do six paintings in six weeks.

Doing house paintings is sort of a return to form from when I was in Harrisburg. At times, it feels like going backward, but also I feel committed to making a show that’s anchored in a real location.

When I did the building paintings in Harrisburg, a lot of them were inhabited homes. This time, all of the buildings are going to be abandoned. I think the first time I painted, it was in response to the newness of my urban setting- an attempt to process the sharp context change of my moving from college to down town Harrisburg. I think with these new house paintings, I’m illuminating and dignifying neglected places as important, even a little beautiful.

If anything, the weirdest change about moving to North Braddock is how overgrown things are. I was driving, looking for a couple new houses to paint, and all of a sudden I was looking into Jurassic Park.

 

I think, if I can paint with enough subtlety, I’d like to thread a needle between realism and romanticism. I don’t think I want to glorify urban decay, but I would like to show how interesting and compelling it is.

Most importantly, I’ve started to have direct feedback from a couple of people I’ve met since moving to North Braddock. What I’d like is that when the whole show is done, that people see it and feel heard and engaged. I think that localism is important to art for two reasons (I can think of right now). The first is that one of the purposes of art is to enrich people’s mental context of their own life. I think that a profound way of doing that is by making paintings in specific locations. The other is that specificity paradoxically has a stronger chance of proving universal than generalities. I’ve very rarely felt moved by s vague art, and I’ve frequently been moved by art that is specifically about a different context. I think this might be because all of us are living in subtle, nuanced contexts, and seeing someone’s specific life often admits life’s complexity for everyone, even if that complexity manifests differently.

So- in summary, get excited for….may 2021…..which is still in two years. If you’re worried you’ll forget, don’t, because I’ll be basically posting about the show creation for 2 Solid Years!!! Sign up for my email list! Keep your May free! We’re going to have a great time!

 

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