Boy did this open up a Pandora’s Box! When asked if I’d pontificate on which four paintings I’d choose to live in and why, I thought, “Oh how fun!” Well it IS. But, holy cow. Only four? It has made me deconstruct, or re-examine rather, the WHY of what I am drawn to. I thought at first it would be wild, phantasmagorical paintings, like Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” But as I wandered around in there: NO … I’d go insane. There’s plenty of that upstairs already. Then I perused paintings I liked and found they were either very atmospheric with lots of space, no subject really, and up-and-out perspective. Or, they were in-your-face character paintings with minimal background. Aha. Made sense: I am an illustrator mainly interested in the foreground subject. And after the glaring light of introspection, the four paintings:
“Before the Parachute Opens,” Tullio Crali
Futurismo movement early 1920s, Italy. These kids were intrigued by speed, technology, youth and violence. I’ll skip the youth, violence and some of the technology for this fabulous falling scene.
I have always wanted to fly. I got to skydive once (you’re SO not scared because there’s nothing to crash against. It’s just you and …) I’ll admit I’ve dated a few pilots. But I, by myself, no tether, no plane, nor pilot, want to fly. And yes, I envy birds. I love this image of just falling. I could live forever in that soft belly feeling of the free fall.
“Turning Away,” Stanton Englehart
Ohhh, I want to live here. Oh wait, I already do. Stanton was my first college art professor who marveled at anything you did. I swear you could spit on a canvas and he would awe for an hour about the meaning behind it. I think the main thing he did was to allow us to THINK. He accepted anything that oozed from us. He’d tell us stories of his own crazy experiences and I thought he was nuts, and told him so in the stream-of-conscious journals we were assigned to keep. When I was particularly harsh on him he’d write “bless your heart” in the margins. I thought “holy cow I can get away with ANYTHING with this guy!” It drew me in though, to accept him as he was accepting me, and we became kind friends. He always said when I got married he’d give me a painting. Well, dammit Stanton, I’m finally getting married and you’re not here anymore.
“Late Winter,” Russell Chatham
OK this next bit hits me as crazy! I only discovered this today as I write this. Many years ago I was passed a book to read, Rick Bass’s “In the Loyal Mountains”. I loved the book, mostly because I imagined the story taking place at the image on its cover (truth be told, I had a hard time reading as a kid and into adulthood, so I depended a lot on the pictures to guide me through). I found this book and researched the painter, Russell Chatham. Googling him I discovered he died the same day Stanton Englehart was born, March 26 (many years later, of course). Ah well, I don’t know what they say about coincidence, but that’s interesting!
I could live in this Chatham painting becaaaauuuuuse … Duuh! You can smell the air! It’s the first snow and it’s chilly out and you’re walking across these glorious open spaces toward that cabin where there’s a fire and all things cozy. Sublime is the word that comes to mind. Yup, this is a good home.
“Wild Horses of Nevada,” Maynard Dixon
I have this fantasy that in my past life I was a Pony Express rider. Driving across the beautiful expanse of Nevada makes me nostalgic, like “I’ve been here before.” I’ve never felt more at ease than in that barren Nevada desert. I LOVE IT! So I would live in this painting, make friends with that gang of horses and explore every nook and cranny of that desert till it took my bones.
Miki Harder is a Durango painter, illustrator and sculptor. See her work at http://www.mikiharderart.com/