Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Can A Painting Do?

I was startled yesterday in Montpelier to hear Dana Wigdor ask this question in three-way conversation with myself and Susan Abbott after the webinar. We were of course talking about our art impacting Vermonters, or the future of Vermont.

As I drove north in the gathering dark, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I probably can't answer it to her satisfaction, but I sure can for myself, and maybe even in the context of the Art of Action project.

I sat in tears in the Turner Room of the National Gallery in London many years ago. And, years after that I stood transfixed and stunned in the Ontario Gallery of Art the first time I saw the work of Canada's Group of Seven.

In those moments something coursed through all the interstices of my brain, likely much as our blood flashes warmth to our whole body from a single swallow of hot coffee by way of the suddenly heated blood coursing through our arteries.

Maybe this is what we need to do. Go after that grail of "touching blood". Make them hurt, dance, weep, howl, feel heat in the blood, but above all think.


  1. Yeah David -- we all three practically said that in unison at one point in the discussion!

  2. Clair,
    Have been enjoying your many posts.
    Yes indeed re. Turner and those wonderful Canadian painters.
    I believe the artist should spend very little, or better, zero time wondering about the impact of their work upon others and instead persist with passion in directions where your heart, and sometimes intellect, take you, either serendipitously or with extreme focus and structure. The people will be the final judge as will Vermonters in this case.
    Understandably, Art of Action does have a stated mission with implied
    impacts; yet again, be open to growth and change, stick to your values, and always make sure the dog wags the tail when one works.

  3. John --
    Thanks! And I was really glad to find that you'd joined us.

    I'm growing so much I'm having pains -- and at my age, growing pains are something to be cherished and hoped for!!

    Mariella (another one of the "few"--the Vermont Waterways blogger) said recently: "Hey, I do what I do!"

    Loved that.