Wednesday, September 9, 2020

High Anxiety

                                                  oil on canvas 36x60 inches, 91.5x152 cm


 This is how and where I spent the summer, working on this painting. The layers are thick and my patience is done. I can live with this. As with all of the recent abstract work, I`ve been troubled with an uncertain judgement. I can`t tell if anything has merit when it happens and when it`s 'finished', I`ve just actually walked away. Unless I can`t take my eyes off it, but that experience is rare these days. I`ve begun to wonder if the global sense of tension and uncertainty has infected my process.
 A month or so ago I had a productive day in the studio and I was getting ready for bed and noticed a strange feeling. I paused and searched my memory and realized it was happiness. True story, I didn`t recognize it.





 Might be because being American right now is like riding in a speeding car with a drunk driver. No one knows what the president will do next. He`s taken a sledge hammer to the post office, decided to let the virus just run wild, and done nothing in months to aid the desperate unemployed and hungry. His stupid executive orders have gummed things up and benefited few. It`s a nightmare.
 Help is coming. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be a vast improvement. After Julian Castro dropped out, Elizabeth Warren was my choice but Biden is fine for this moment in history. He seems to have the humility to listen to others. I suspect he will have experts soon at work trying to repair the economy and the public health. Right now Trump is the number one danger, none of us are safe. But when he`s gone, I think the rebuilding will be more creative and just than we`ve seen in two generations. I sure hope.





 I began this post three days ago but was interrupted by two separate power outages. They happened because of strong winds from the east blowing trees down onto the power lines. The wind was a result of a cold front that came down from Canada into the Rockies. With everything so dry in the American West, fires have multiplied since August. The photo below was taken down in the Willamette Valley yesterday morning.




                                                        my yard 5 miinutes ago 9/92020


 The fires are burning so fiercely, it`s not known what human life has been lost yet. Everyone in the state has been asked to prepare for evacuation. I live away from the flames but we`re asked to 'be ready'. Scary and sad. John told me yesterday he doesn`t remember forest fires as a kid. This part of Oregon was just too wet but not anymore.
 As our country gets on its feet again, the rapidly warming climate has got to be addressed. The natural disasters come quicker and stronger than ever before propelled by the warming temperatures.






 Many people I know out of state have asked me what is going on in Portland? The truth is I haven`t been so sure myself even though I live just 10 miles south of downtown. As heartening as they were to me, I have not been a participant in any of the demonstrations. I do not like any sort of crowd whatsoever. Following some research I`ve done, it seems there are two types of protests going on. The Black Lives Matter group wants to keep pressure up to insure reforms really do happen. Oregon and Portland in particular, has a shameful racist history that is living memory. The black community is small here without much political strength. Demonstrations are a way to keep the issues alive. The other faction is harder to grasp. Portland is a liberal city, its voting records prove so. Yet as it gained notoriety as a hip creative place to live, a radical strain of political thought arose, more confrontational. As far as I can tell, this group of young people are protesting daily and are willing to light fires and throw things to bring attention to their message. Which is that the system is structurally unstable and unjust. I couldn`t agree more. But I fully believe president Trump sent in federal security forces to get press coverage of the conflicts to amplify his law and order campaign message. He hopes to win by stoking white fear and resentment. Evil in other words. The problems of lower income white families are not the fault of people of color or immigrants. They all suffer from a suffocating lack of opportunity. Your zip code is now your destiny and the country is as segregated as ever.
Portlanders do not want violence or looting, and they do not like being used for pawns.





Here is a haunting short video with the national anthem sung in a minor key




                                             watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm


 This only took two days, much faster than anything else completed in the last 6 months. A different look than other current work but I was craving some color and again hoping through chance to develop an attitude of competence.
 I`ve done a couple of landscapes again too;



                                Mountain Sketch watermedia on paper 8x8 inches, 20x20 cm


                                   Sundown watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm


                                Above Hanalei watermedia on paper 19x14 inches, 48x36 cm


 Like everyone, I`ve been home so much I have severe wanderlust. I can`t stop thinking about Kauai. When this pandemic is conquered, and the islands are open to visitors again, I sure hope some limits and reforms to tourism are initiated. Way too many visitors at one time! There must be a way to manage that and include the locals in the revived economy. Maybe a tax like Alaska did on their oil revenues with a distribution to all its citizens once a year.



                                                            by the great Roz Chast




                                                               by Agnes Pelton


 Several years ago leaving the De Young art museum in San Francisco, I saw this hanging near the entrance. I was familiar with the artist but had never seen one in person. It was absolutely luminous and it sparked my curiosity. She was a long time resident of the CoachellaValley in Southern California near where I grew up.


                                                                   Agnes Pelton


 Her work is a very personal exploration of mysticism and spirituality. The craftsmanship she worked with is exceptional. The deserts around Palm Springs are best known for their golf courses and for once being the playground of Hollywood types. Before them however, there was a small underground. Rock hounds, painters, hermits, refugees of the spirit, squatters and writers. It is a stark and brutal environment much of the year but some learned to thrive there.  With evaporative cooling, as the natives had used, and an adaptable nocturnal  lifestyle, a good life could be found.


                                                                  by Agnes Pelton










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3 comments:

Libby Fife said...

Randall,

Earlier this year I drove from La Quinta to Palm Springs to go to the museum. I saw two Agnes Pelton paintings. They were luminous and perfectly executed; unlike anything I have seen in person so far. I love that her work is so personal but accessible. I checked out the landscape too along the way and thought about what life must have been like earlier, stripped of the midcentury glitter and golf courses and signs of economic downturn. I love that environment. It's so unforgiving. It's unapologetically harsh and brutal and beautiful all at once.

I haven't laughed or smiled much in months. Months. It's a culmination of things that certainly includes the shitty times we are living through.

Hope that you and John are safe and thriving the best that you can. Thank you for the post.
Libby

E.M. Corsa said...

Well, that first painting made me smile and put the world right, at least for today.

I am heartbroken for all you're going through. Keep safe.

I do still smile and laugh at the little things around me. If I can't, my soul will wilt and die. There is only so much negativity I will allow to enter my life. It isn't that I don't care, and I will do my part to make things right, but I will not let anyone or anything steal away any more of my time.

RH Carpenter said...

I think we are all trying to create when our feelings are so uncertain and we are in pain or anxiety (or both). I think you are accomplishing something beautiful here and should continue. Perhaps stop your mind thinking so much while you are painting and just let go a little? Easy for me to say! ha ha. I hope you stay safe and stay inside while the sky is like that - it cannot be good for your lungs!!