Into the Dark Ages – December 1973

by Alden Cole on September 9, 2014 · 0 comments

illumination2.1WPIllumination • oil on canvas, 24″ x 18″ • collection of Robert Mayberry (San Diego). This painting was my fourth in oils. In retrospect I can see that I wasn’t exactly burning up the paints and canvas with my new found interest in painting that autumn of ’73. Critical of what little I had been able to produce already in this Brave New Medium, I can rationalize that I was ‘otherwise involved’ – still doing the occasional fashion illustration job (I hadn’t burned my portfolio yet) to keep the roof over my head – living in a spare room in a friend’s apartment on Bank Street in Greenwich Village, awaiting an acceptance into a Master’s Program in painting at IU that never arrived. Life’s various rejections fostered a time during which I explored my own darker side; living in the fabled Village, close to the city’s seamier cruising areas where my illusions of gay life were stretched to newly discovered limits. Unfortunately I found relatively little solace on the streets or in my occasional experiments with oil painting, as today’s painting suggests. I was in a dark mood, still producing muddy work without the satisfaction of matching the internal vision to the external reality of canvas and paint. To my memory, corroborated by the 35mm transparency records I’ve maintained, this piece was only my 4th oil painting in as many months; but it was also the last one using this particular medium for a couple years, while I explored the delights and frustrations of watercolor and acrylics, which seemed more manageable.

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