Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Just Legs

Handsome Husband and I were at Graham Gallery in Hastings last night, enjoying a fascinating photography exhibit by Todd Brown. Todd's photos deal with movement and space, of those who have left their mark in rooms and hallways. They're thoughtful, beautifully presented, and maybe even a bit uncomfortable, if only because they are outside my experience. The images are still on my mind, which I'm certain would please Todd immensely.

I'm a landscape painter in a generally realistic manner. My job is to make a scene interesting and attractive. Seeing Todd's photos reminds me that it's okay for art to be uncomfortable. It's just fine when images don't fit neatly into pre-conceived packages, to be hung on walls and matched to the color of the divan. And I don't have to 'get it'. It's hard for me not to have the back story, the why behind the conception. I want to know why this texture, why this shape, why this subject. Sometimes it's 'just because', and that's enough.

My favorite photo in this exhibit is a front view of a young woman from the chest down, lanky legs sticking out from a shapeless shift. She's holding a branch at a 90 degree angle to her torso. Of course, my first thought was 'what does it mean??' And there was no answer. There was no paragraph beside the photo explaining Todd's deep, personal beliefs about peanut butter and it's relationship to the environment. There was no catalog reference to deeply held religious dogma and how it relates to the fact that Todd sometimes wears a kilt. It was just the photo. I don't know what it means, except that I know I love that photo. I love looking at it. I love thinking about it. I love that her lanky legs are sort of twiggy, like the branch she's holding. And I love that others are looking at it as well, and probably putting their own history to it. And that Todd is hanging out in the back, sipping a beer and enjoying the spectacle, thinking 'it's just a girl with a branch.'

This image is for my exhibit at the Minden Opera House, March 2 - April 15.
What does this image mean? In a nutshell, the fractured textures of the branches represent the frailty of ...well ... um, actually, I just like the way the yellow leaves float on the dark blue water.

What does your art mean to you?


Karine said...

Good for you, going to see an exhibit with art that pushes you out of your comfort zone! I always used to tell people that art is like the person who creates it, in order to get to know it, you have to spend time with it!

My art is deeply personal, and of course I could go on and on about what it means to me. But sometimes things are better left unsaid.

Love the painting in this post, btw.

Nancy and the fatties said...

Patty, you always make me laugh. I hope your show goes VERY well. Love this beautiful new work of yours, too. Your comments on it's okay for art to cause unease reminds me of a painting I saw at the Wyeth exhibit in Dallas many years ago of a young asian boy standing in a barren field in front of a mobile home. There were no trees, it was really bleak. Behind him, parked in the driveway was an 18 wheeler. The boy was staring into the distance with clenched fists. It was a painting I'll never forget, even though it wasn't pretty.

Sarah said...

Gorgeous painting,Patty!!! Your art is inspirational and delightful to feast my eyes upon!
Are things leveling out for you at all?
Talk soon (-:

PS- keep your coffee/tea cup close. It looks as if it's going to be a doozy of a snow storm(:(:(: Mmmm...Nebraska.

Nancy and the fatties said...

Hey Miss Patty, I blogged you today...