Never Can Say Goodbye (Artist Statement)

August 5th, 2017

My tribute, homage and valediction to the wild ones

nevercansaygoodbye3

On exhibit from August 18 through September 17, 2017 at the NHIA’s Sharon Arts Gallery in Peterborough, NH.

I keep thinking that all our problems

Soon are gonna work out

But there’s that same unhappy feeling

There’s that anguish, there’s that doubt

It’s the same old dizzy hangup

Can’t do with you or without

Tell me why is it so?

Don’t wanna let you go!

From “Never Can Say Goodbye” written by Clifton Davis

Growing up in a Sicilian-American household, I learned that respect is one of the most important things in life. (It sounds like a bad “Sopranos” cliché, but it’s true.) Whether it’s self-respect or the respect you get from others — without this essential ingredient, your life will be diminished.

Being also raised Catholic and having attended 12 years of parochial school, I developed a deep capacity for reverence, as well. I was taught to revere things that I later came to question and doubt.

But the reflex of reverence runs deep in my psyche. When I discovered the wonder and beauty of the natural world, I immediately recognized that this, this magnificence was truly worthy of reverence.

And therefore, worthy of the utmost respect, too.

It confounds, of course, me that not everyone feels the same way.

From what I can observe, our culture overall seems to have little regard (and consequently little respect) for the natural world.

And now we cannot deny that our world is changing. And I’m pretty sure there’s a connection there. No respect = no consideration.

I often struggle in keeping my despair at bay when I learn about what is happening to the elephants and tigers and polar bears etc. I am constantly seeking a way to “just be” with these facts.

“Change is the only constant” I once learned in my Intro to Ecology class. And resistance to change is ultimately futile, I’ve learned from living a life. Everything changes. You can’t prevent it.

So when I read that the artist Frida Kahlo once wrote, “I paint flowers so they will not die,” it struck a chord deep within me. Is that what I am doing? Painting animals so they will not die?

Is this perhaps one way to deal with the seeming inevitability of extinction? Can one transcend it – even a tiny bit – via art?

So with that possibility in mind, I offer you these portraits of some of the creatures that I respect and revere most deeply.

I painted them so they will live forever.

Bear With Me

September 20th, 2016
web-sized-4

Look deep into my eyes…

So why am I so drawn to – not quite obsessed by but neverthe-less strongly attracted to – bears? When I think about it, there is an ursine thread running through my life.

Of course: teddy bear. I had the cutest little brown one with a music box in its guts when I was little. It played a tinkly tinny lullaby. I must have played it a lot because I remember my brothers trying to eviscerate it. But I’m over it now. I swear!

Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude Series

May 5th, 2016

Original painting 32 x 20: acrylic on yupo paper

The Wild Within/ The Wild Without

Artist Statement for Rosemary G. Conroy’s current exhibit

Currently on view at the Gallery at Wren, Bethlehem NH through May 30, 2016

So I started working on this show with the idea that it would be about lions, tigers, and bears. That’s right: “Oh My!” It seemed like a fun angle and I’ve always been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz.

But as I began to research lions, tigers and bears, I was dismayed to find out how poorly many of these species are doing in the wild. I had no idea things had gotten so dire. There are more tigers in captivity now than in the wild, for one sad example. Lion numbers are plummeting – less than 20,000. It was closer to 400,000 just 50 years ago. And polar bears – well you’ve probably heard about what’s going on in the Arctic already.

 So the light-hearted “Oh My!” quickly turned into a much more dismayed “oh, my.”

A very wise woman then told me that some people believe that every species on this planet has a purpose. Once they have fulfilled that purpose, they will leave – as in go extinct. Wow. What a concept! And while I am still pondering the full implications of that radical idea, it got me thinking: if lions, and tigers and polar bears are completing their journeys on the planet, than we should find a way to thank them from the very bottom of our hearts for being here.

So, here is my small attempt to honor them through my art. For me, it’s now more “OH MY: Aren’t we so lucky to have had these amazing creatures bless our planet with their wildness?”

I’ve inscribed my words of gratitude for each species into many of the portraits I’ve painted for this show. My intent is about showing my reverence and awe and of course, love.

Because no matter what their fate may be, (and there are many, many people working to ensure these beautiful creatures do not disappear anytime soon) I want to express my sincere appreciation for all these wild creatures have done to make our outer world a much more interesting and beautiful place.

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