June 5, 2018
Aunt Ann quipped, “They made me take piano lessons, but it didn’t take.” It’s a curious thing what “takes” in our lives. Things that take stick. Not just adhering to the surface like a sticky note, but more like penetrating our very core, as the South began to seep into my pores at 9 years old. My birthplace may have been Detroit, but southern wrapped around me like kudzu in the Nantahala Gorge. It took!
One of those curious things happened to me in the 4th grade when my teacher told me that I should be an artist, I may not be able to tell you what I had for breakfast but that suggestion “took!”
Old photo albums prompt feelings of nostalgia. A 1959 snapshot of what “took” in my Mom, Imogene (or Jean as most folks called her) – standing there in her starched white uniform and her white shoes hand on her hip beside a sign that read “Jean’s Beauty Shop.” What a great snapshot! The kind taken with a Brownie camera – the glossy print has beautiful deckled edges.
Technology may have changed the photo process, but not the essence of “Take” in the snapshot itself. They don’t call it a smart phone today for nothing. My iPhone arranges my snapshots into collections. I’ve never asked it to – it just does it. Probably because we are obsessed with organization! Hey, I’m good with that. Come to think about it, my art is huddled into collections. Gatherings of images that have taken root and been revisited over and over. Such huddles include Boats & Canoes, Figurative, Horses & Hounds, Cows & Barns and a hodgepodge I call Still Life.
Back to Jean… that white starched uniform was designed and worn to announce the purpose for the day. Wearable fabric is the snapshot of a purposeful moment in time. A gentleman’s white shirt, a wedding gown or possibly a vintage print swimsuit is a proclamation of an event. A memory saved.
Yes it’s true “until the cows come home.” I walk into a barn, see the cows and smile. The grounding smells of an honest lifestyle are a symbol of hope. Who would build a barn without hope to fill it?
Thank you Garden & Gun and the late Ben Hardaway. Seeing a snapshot of his hounds coming over a hill eager and enthusiastic for a new morning makes me know I’m not alone. Lord, I love the early mornings….. and painting hounds! A collection of horses was first prompted by folk artist Purvis Young. Horses are icons for freedom which Purvis longed for. My work has been influenced by his use of cardboard, file folders and such. Guessing art supplies are limited in prison. Character and interest through recycling!
My Boats and Canoes are almost entirely without people. Messiness happens when people come in! These floating images are minimalistic, balanced and have an overall sense of calm. Everything you need in that moment is within that contained area. Trustworthy for your complete surrender. So, viewer, like the bumper sticker reads “Just get in, sit down and shut up.”
Like Aunt Ann, not all things “take”. Thanks goodness! Wouldn’t life be messy if all things “took?” Once upon a time in a casual conversation I was saying how I had never been to St Louis. Shortly after that, seeing an old snapshot of me in front of the Arch is an example of a sticky note memory that was blown off with a breeze.
My art is a collection of “takes” of images. Life’s moments that stick. Snapshots that bring a slow smile to a memory revisited.