Everything Old is Nude Again

show poster

Old ideas can still stand naked in the light of a new day

What? Is tradition dead? Are the audiences for all-things-old-school mere cobwebbed shadows of the past? Thanks to a cycle of nature-induced and human-brewed disasters over the last decade or two and the sullen worldwide economy that has followed, every arts org and artist worth any salt has been kvetching and querying endlessly on the questions. At last glance, I haven’t noticed that fiscal fears and convictions of doom have done much more than renew what is, honestly, the eternally pessimistic or at least worried conversation of artists across the galaxy to its current iteration. We’ve always been convinced we were going to Hell in a Kardashian Kollection handbag.

That said, I notice that as ever, those who were operating opportunistically or on a whim are shimmying down the lines and flinging themselves bodily off the stern while the determined and/or stubbornly stupid prefer to let yet another wave of direness smash on by overhead and cling to Happy Thoughts. I share just enough DNA with Pollyanna to blissfully stick with my intended life-as-artist (meanwhile always keeping an eye peeled for safer income sources to support my habit).

The whole idea of dealing with insecurity by dumping the one part of my merely mortal skill set that gives me the most challenge and joy is ridiculous. Similarly, the last thing I’d contemplate is throwing out the foundational tools and techniques that press me to be more able and artful in my work. So while I’m always hoping to put my own spin on things, I’m happy to do so by retooling the classics: still life is–despite its cheery French name–not dead; landscape can be bland or it can open a window into enticing new worlds; and if the time comes when we lose interest in admiring ourselves enough to keep making marvelous artworks featuring the nude figure, I guess I will have to pack up my pencils. And no, despite my fling with “colorizing” myself in grad school, I’ve never lost my love for good old black and white and I’m currently going through a big spree of graphite-only stuff yet again.

This piece is an older one, too, but if you notice that it’s from a poster illustration for a production of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace‘ you’ll see that I chose to apply the old-fashioned approach of a still life to a long-known play’s promotion in what I hoped would be a slightly new and surprising twist. The idea was that people seeing the poster around town and thinking it at first glance a bland image would on approach find it a happily unexpected thing after all. I flatter myself that the number of posters that were subsequently stolen and required replacement before the production opened indicated some success with this surprise element. My life has certainly never lacked for elements of surprise for me, so why not share it with others.

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