Gabi and I visited the museum of art today. I did the same thing I do when I visited galleries and tried to see which piece I remembered best at the end of our tour. Do you do that? I love seeing which image comes to mind before I leave. When time permits I like to circle back around and see if I can figure out why that piece was the piece I think of first. Today at the Santa Fe Museum of Art this was the image.
This is a piece done by George W. Bellows (1882-1925). It's titled A Stag at Sharkey's, 1914. The Description read "The Ashcan School was not an organized movement and its spiritual father Robert Henri urged his colleagues to paint New York's working class pursuits with the robust forthrightness of poet Walt Whitman."
I love the concept of the working class. The odd jobs that make up our lives and consume our time and attention. Really these works done by people whos names are not necessarily widely known today are what make the monuments of the world, from the pyramids of Egypt, to the empire state building, to the skilled foundry workers that help me create my work. I loved this piece because it showed the struggle of the fighters but also the excitement of those attending. One aspect of the two dimensional arts that I am often jealous of is the ability to show not only your subject but the crowds and environment surrounding them.
At the same time a sculpture artist really shouldn't ignore this imagined, or even real, environment as that will greatly influence what details you can include. As an example in Love Letters, a bookend set I did a little while back, with the man I was able to paint clouds in the picture by simply adding an umbrella to the scene. In my Dad's work by having a man in action pointing his gun at something the viewer's mind is inspired to imagine for themselves what it is that he is aiming at.
But this piece by George Bellows made me want to bring that world into my work more and more. Also I think I'm going to start reading Wald Whitman. The next new project you will see this year is based on that same working class in the early 1900's. And my new goal is to create with that same robust forthrightness as Walt Whitman and works like this.