Sunday, November 25, 2018

"Ephemera: Imagined Memorabilia of Astoria"

The wonderful people at RiverSea Gallery came up with a great idea for a show- " Ephemera: Imagined Memorabilia of Astoria", a collection of small works based on imagined memorabilia of a past, present or future Astoria.
For this invitational group show I created three special pieces, all 6"x8", depicting imaginative postcards based on actual events in Astoria's colorful past.
Inspired by the tag lines and slogans on traditional travel posters, I visualized postcards commemorating events that are not usually the stuff of promotional campaigns and depicted them as though they were perceived as being as noteworthy and exciting as a major tourist attraction or event, such as a World's Fair or The Grand Canyon.

On the front of each one is an original painting, based on a historic photograph. On the back, I added a vintage-looking postcard reverse, with a short note written as though the postcard had been written upon and sent to you, the viewer.

This one is based on a very courageous protest by Chinese American residents of Astoria in 1939. They were protesting the sale of scrap iron and steel to Japan, where it was recycled into war material. At the time of the protest, the Japanese government was waging an undeclared war against China. Although it is a very somber subject, I depict it as if it is regarded by the postcard sender as a joyous incidence of morality triumphing over profit.
To read more, click onto The Oregon History Project.

This one is commemorating the fact that being a Socialist wasn't such an obscure position at one time, and that Astoria was a hotbed of radical, populist politics. I loved the name of this brass band, and it perhaps reminded me of Sgt. Pepper's a bit!
To read more, click on over to The Oregon History Project.

Last but not least, this is an imagined postcard commemorating Astoria's historical red light district, sometimes referred to as "Swilltown" because of all the saloons. Although the glamorization of prostitution is a moral tangle, there has been a long tradition of sex workers of all stripes defying authority, demanding their rights, standing up for the underdogs of society. 
To read more, visit The Clatsop County Heritage Museum.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A New Commission with Old Traditions

Over the years I have done many commissions, and I have just recently finished one that I am particularly proud of.
This is a painting for a friend of mine with her mother and her daughter. I stitched it together using several different photographs, one set in Chicago, which is where they are from. 

I was particularly touched by the idea that there would be three generations of women depicted in the finished image. I tried to emphasize this by depicting their hands; one tiny and young, one in full womanhood, the third wizened with age. 

I also supported the element of three by forming the composition in a triangle. 

The use of a triangle in portraiture common throughout western art. It conveys a sense of stability and monumentality that is pleasing in general, but in particular when used in family groups. In fact, it was used often by Renaissance artists when painting The Madonna and Child. 
Raphael, Madonna and Child with Book
Raphael was one of the great masters of the Renaissance era. Below is a depiction of The Madonna and Child plus St. John the Baptist, which not only has the triangular composition but also has three figures.
Raphael, Madonna With Child And St John The Baptist
When I went onto choose the colors for this commission, I allowed myself to make further reference to this painting genre by using the colors commonly used to dress The Madonna: red, with a blue overdress.

Although I never intended to imply any religious association with this commission, I did enjoy being able to refer to the special sanctity of family connection and the devotion of loved ones.