2011: taking a look at my inner nature

by Alden Cole on September 4, 2018 · 0 comments

The Eye: #2 of a slowly evolving series titled These Are a Few of My Favorite… Body Parts • oil on linen 18” x 18” • based on a detail from a photograph taken of Omar Kabir while we were in India in June 2005 for two weeks.

This series was inspired by that captivating tune from The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers using some altered lyrics based loosely on those by Oscar Hammerstein. The first was The Ear, pointed in 2004. Since then I’ve painted The Mouth, The Feet, and The Buttocks. As I said, it’s a very slowly evolving series, based on a quick 4″ x 6″ sketch made in the mid ’80s while living in Portsmouth, NH. All it will take to complete the series is “Time, Strength, Cash and Patience.”

Face to Face – a triptych measuring 7” x 21” composed of three individually framed oil paintings on linen canvas-board, each 6” x 6”. The individually framed paintings, first created in 2005, were combined into a single artwork especially for a 2011 DaVinci Art Alliance exhibit dealing with the theme Triumph Over Discrimination. All three paintings were seen as single entities originally pointed for a series titled Tenderness where I explored more of my emotional attachments going back to childhood.

Illusions of Artistry …Now & Then • two pencil drawings on 8-1/2” x 11” bond paper. The left-hand image is from 2004, done at age 60, with some self-knowledge under my belt about my particular life as an artist. On the right is a difficult-to-read image because the pencil lines are so light, done in 1962, at age 18. I was a freshman at RISD, my first months away from the farm and living at home, naively contemplating the illusory delights of life in the city as a ‘cool dude’ artiste. I mounted both drawings on black presentation board, making them a single work of art, framed in wood 22” x 28”, for a DaVinci Art Alliance exhibit with the theme “Then & Now” the summer of 2011.

Clownin’ Around: Now (2005) & Then (1952) • a diptych – each framed piece measuring 25” x 19” • on the left, Now, painted in oils on linen canvas-board in 2005. On the right, Then, a crayon drawing done when I was probably around age 8 in grammar school; a drawing which survived the inevitable destruction of “putting away childish things” that happens in adolescence, because my aunt Charlotte had saved it, then returned it to me when I was an adult appreciative of those earliest strivings.

In the summer of 2011 the DaVinci Art Alliance celebrated its 80th anniversary with a show themed Then & Now. Standing the phrase on its head Now & Then to give it a more familiar and poetic twist, I toyed with several variations based literally on old pencil drawings I had created during my junior and senior years of high school, plus a couple racier ones created the next, my freshman year at RISD. The originals in pencil on bond size paper were done for my own pleasure, not to fulfill class projects; nor did I seek the attentions and criticisms of my fellow students for these sentimental meanderings in pencil. These drawings were my therapy at a time of intense personal conflict: recognizing my sexual nature, and negotiating the transition from ‘childhood’ to ‘adulthood’ which I was taking VERY seriously at the time – I could write a book about it, but became an artist instead. Reviewing old drawings in 2011, approximately fifty years after their original creation, provided an entertaining spring, if not a lot of salable work. I used a few as springboards to new work. Illusions of Artistry: Now & Then, featured a few days ago, was an example of this revisioning, and my first choice as one of two possible entries to the DaVinci exhibit. Other spring experiments were often larger and in color; I was having a great time exploring the concept, because I was creating with a sense of humor that was lacking in the originals. However, because I could only put one other piece besides Illusions of Artistry into the DaVinci show, I opted for a diptych combining a painting that was a few years old at at the time, plus a work from childhood that had literally inspired it, Clownin’ Around – Now & Then. Rest assured, paintings of clowns is not a genre I have pursued any further…

Le Jongleur (The Juggler) • oil on canvas 36” x 24”

I started this particular canvas sometime in the mikd-‘70s around the time I was just beginning to paint. Living back in New York after having moved out of the city from June to Octaber 1974, I was cautiously trying to get my feet wet using this new medium of oil painting. that I had no preliminary training for. I’ve totally forgotten what the subject matter of the original first layer was, but it was a disaster. The canvas changed radically over the years, becoming the basis for more experimentation with imagery and medium than most of my other work. It wasn’t until 2011 that I finally said “Basta!” and signed it. I kinda wish I’d maintained a visual history of the many rewordings the painting experienced, so I could see how many different paintings actually exist one on top of the other.

Liebestod • colored pencils on matte-black card-stock 24” x 20” framed in antique Victorian-era frame 30” x 26” • $390

This is another work with a long history from inception to signing: first sketched out loosely on black paper with colored pencils in the late 70s while I was still living in NYC. The inspiration was music, the final scene from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde which had seduced me with its magic years before, a piece of music that had inspired earlier artworks. The drawing was left in a very unfinished state until the fall of 2011 when I was recognized its inherent beauty, even in such an unfinished state, and was challenged to bring the piece to completion for a fall exhibit at the DaVinci Art Alliance themed Triumph Over Discrimination, although I can’t remember now my rationale for the connecting this piece to the show’s theme. Artistic License apparently.

Blue Serenade • oil on linen 20″ x 48″

Another painting begun in the early 2000s that was part of a series of erotic works that were my major focus at that time. In 2012 I reworked certain passages, but like many other paintings still in my possession, it feels like there is so much more that could be done to bring it to a state of satisfactory completion.

Christmas Watch • oils and acrylics on linen 16″ x 12″

And yet another painting years in the making. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started this particular canvas in the early 2000s, but it didn’t get its finishing touches until November 2011, just in time for a December showing of work – my first solo show in quite some time – at the Pebble Hill non-sectarian church in Doylestown, PA, curated by fellow Dumpster Diver Gretchen Altabef.

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