Art Show: Postponed! News, updates, small projects, development, and my Knotweed Painting

COVID 19- blowing things up.

In the meantime, I thought I would do a miscellaneous post. Looking back, I wrote less than nine blog posts this year. I guess I decided that some of my paintings weren’t worth the attention of my elite, committed audience.

Now that the art show is postponed to August, 2022, I can make every conceivable painting about N. Braddock and the Mon Valley. History paintings, more sculptures, more dirty building rocket ships- anything. Thanks for those of you who filled out my google form- it was helpful! I’ve decided to concentrate less on portraits, but when I do portraits, I’m going to do the hybrid paint/glass ones that have been turning out well.

Speaking of those, here is one that I made:

The plant is Japanese Knotweed, which is coming up everywhere in North Braddock. Everybody in the neighborhood knows what it looks like and its name- there’s empty lots that are just a field of this stuff. It grows like crazy and comes up through cracks in the concrete. I was trying to kill it in my yard and apparently if you pull it up by hand it will continue to come back for three years.

Why can’t the deer eat this stuff?

The painting I made is very similar, maybe even a spiritual successor, “The Church on Meadow Street” (https://nathanvanpatter.com/2018/02/26/church-on-meadow-street-what-house-will-you-build-me/) in that it juxtaposes blight with regrowth. In the church, it’s the blooming tree. In the knotweed, it’s the indigenous bee balm flower in the bottom left corner. Both the tree and the bee balm are pink, and their placement as an object is roughly the same. I’m not trying to be lazy, but if it works…why not do it again?

I’ve been looking for new parts of the area to think about. Here are some of the pictures of my findings:

I found the abandoned car wash going on walks before work in the morning. I can’t make a painting of it easily- where’s the focus? But I’ve already incorporated parts of it into the Apocalypse painting I’ve been making.

It’s hard to tell from the photo but that’s a huge old tree in the N. Braddock cemetery. I think to do that one justice I’d have to paint it in person- something I’ve never done before. I just can’t get a good photo of it- it’s either backlit or too small or the colors are wrong. Maybe I”ll make a day of it next summer.

And…that’s the thing. Now I have a next summer for this art show. Part of me feels like a cop out for pushing back. I had a choice to keep it the same date, but risk people not being able to come all at once. It would be heartbreaking to put all this work in and then not have people be able to come. If the date arrives and people choose not to come, then I ride away like Don Quixote and congratulate myself for taking three years to do something elaborate and useless.

There’s a movie I saw in college called Synecdoche, NY. In it, a director gets so lost in making his film that he creates a set of New York City the size of New York City. Part of me fears doing something like that, and another part of me wants to get lost in a world I build by myself in my garage. I’ve always loved labyrinthine art- I mean, my favorite book is 2666. It would be pretty great to achieve something vertiginous and profound. Confusing and satisfying.

I wonder if paintings can even do that on their own. My hope is that a show can be more than the sum of its parts. Not just a series of disjointed, quiet thoughts, but a living microcosm.

So, I think I made the decision I had to with the show. Hope to see you all there in…geez I guess two years.

Last but not least, I built a chicken coop over COVID:

People bring their kids by to see the flock of urban chickens. It’s great! Hopefully some eggs soon.

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