Like centuries of artists before me, my art can be characterized by its unapologetic postmodern use of earlier styles and conventions, and an eclectic mixing of different styles and media. According to London's Tate Museum, “As an art movement postmodernism to some extent defies definition – as there is no one postmodern style or theory on which it is hinged. It embraces many different approaches to art making, and may be said to... [embrace] conceptual art, neo-expressionism, feminist art…” I would add that my work embraces classical and realism, and new media movements.
MEMORIES: THE THINGS WE LOVE
Wedged between northern California’s patchwork fields, I remember my favorite childhood home, the home I loved, in the small agricultural town of Woodland. We lived in a small gray stucco surrounded by my mother’s colorful perennials. On hot afternoons, my brother and I would carefully pick a ripe watermelon from our dad’s sumptuous summer garden and begin the trek across newly plowed furrows with Nippy, the loyal watchdog that had adopted us years before. Hot and tired, our journey would end at the irrigation ditch that wound through fields of ruby red tomatoes and rows of gracefully bowing sunflowers. Refreshed by a dip in the cool green-blue water, I would sit in the shade of an old walnut tree and draw Nippy, my brother, friends who joined us, flowers, fields… This was my first studio.
Perhaps this is where I first realized the urgency of recording visual experiences. The world is always in motion, and even familiar things are always changing. Our beloved Nippy was hit by a car one chilly December evening by thrill-seeking teen agers. We watched the acres of juicy tomatoes being slowly replaced by grand country estates and tracts of identical houses. There are plans for a shopping mall where the fields of bright yellow sunflowers grew. The old irrigation ditch is still there, but it is festering with aerial crop dusting sprays and herbicide run-off. The once inviting water has red and white “Danger, Keep Out” warnings posted along an eight-foot barbed wire fence that spans its perimeter.
My home is now the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I continue to work in the open air, but I also enjoy the luxury of an artist’s studio. I spent a few summers ago producing quick oil sketches and studies from a rental boat on the Loch Lomond Reservoir, the water source for much of the San Lorenzo Valley. It was approaching its lowest point in over 50 years, and was closed indefinitely to visitors soon after my visit. It felt like that summer’s visual documentation could have been my last opportunity to depict the picturesque reservoir. The reservoir has reopened, but I am keenly aware of our limited water source and fragile ecosystem.
In Communion, the painting process spans several months in the studio layering oil on top of oil to achieve form, texture, color, light and shadow. The woman is my mother. She wakes in the morning and wraps her thin body in a wool turquoise throw and sips her “half” cup of coffee from a floral drug store cup. It is a quiet moment for us both. She stills knows me, and I am anxious to document her with video, drawings and paintings before her mind, her esprit, slips into the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since the completion of this painting, my mother passed away. Once again, I am reminded to document the things I love.