In one month I deliver paintings to Stuhr Museum in Grand Island for my upcoming solo show to be held in conjunction with the annual Wings Over thePlatte juried exhibition. All of this celebrates the annual sandhills crane migration through our state.
In addition to the work, I’ll need a mailing list, an inventory list and of course, The Artist’s Statement. Cue the scary music. Haul out the dictionary. This will take some time.
The theme of this exhibit is the Platte River Valley, its environs and the wildlife that inhabit this ecologically valuable area. As the Featured Artist I get top billing, which means I’ve got to have a killer statement.
So here I sit, toiling away trying to understand and validate my continuing love affair with landscapes and most especially trees. In the spirit of all I learned in art school I’m using language like juxtapose, elicit and ethereal, balancing those words with some philosophy that would give this collection of paintings a deeper validation as art. Spelled with a capital “A”, spoken in whispered tones with a tight jaw: A-h-h-t.
This morning, after 30 years of writing statements, after a jillion words and hundreds of pages of baloney , a lightbulb went on.
Trees and tangles of bushes and the hollows in between are a major part of who I am today. In painting them I get to revisit my glory days.
©2010 Patricia Scarborough Thicket 12 x 12 oil
Back then I was a cowboy on a fast horse, being bucked off or leaping over obstacles only a daring rider on a masterful beast would dare to attempt, all under the canopy of trees in our backyard.
I, along with my siblings and various neighborhood kids, climbed high into the branches topping our yard, Sherpa’s on a path into Valhalla. We flung ourselves off the first heavy bough Tarzan-style not realizing that the ape-man was a fiction and that Johnny Weissmuller had a net. It might not have mattered if we had. We were heroes in the making. Really awesome ones at that.
Trees and bushes in our neighborhood provided us with a backdrop of intense imaginative play. We were pioneers and pirates and international spies chasing and being chased, fighting over who got to be the Mom, the Dad and the baby; the outcast, the hero. Freud’s laboratory tucked into the hedges of my own neighborhood.
©2010 Patricia Scarborough November 9 x 12 oil
The sky of my youth was divided by branches and sprigs. I see that now in many of my paintings. Funny how I’m just now realizing that.
How that translates into a statement for an art exhibit I have no idea. The grown up part of me gets to wrestle with that. The fact that I was once a rodeo queen with ties to an international syndicate who routinely saved damsels from distress and escaped certain capture by leaping out of trees will most likely be left out. Even if it’s the truth.
©2010 Patricia Scarborough If I Were There 8 x 10 pastel
With effort and a thesaurus I'll create a document explaining my collection of paintings with grown up words, knowing all the while there's a little kid lurking behind the shrubs, looking for a steed on which to gallop into the sunset.