Do You See What I See?

Working in the service industry can be eerie. Sometimes your patrons for the day demonstrate remarkably similar group behavior. Sometimes they're all real grouchy, even the regulars that are usually so cheery; sometimes they're all inexplicably in a great mood, or maybe everyone that day orders the same thing. It's weird. This sort of oblivious interconnection is something I come across a lot when I look at other artists.

Franz Gertsch, At Luciano's House, 1973. 243 x 355 cm. Acrylic on unprimed linen. (Image taken from Kai Fine Art)

A while back I did some research on Franz Gertsch. At first look, a lot of folks would probably think that Gertsch is a Photorealist because his paintings are hyper-realistic work based off of photographs. However, he was across the ocean from the beginnings of Photorealism, which was a reaction against Abstract Expressionism. Rather than reacting against Abstract Expressionism, Gertsch turned to painting from photographs as a means to achieve his broader artistic vision. It's uncanny though that these artists who didn't know one another at all were making work at the same time by turning to photographs in order to express a new way of seeing things.

Robert Bechtle, ’61 Pontiac, 1968–69. Oil on canvas, 59 3/4 × 84 1/4 in. (151.8 × 214 cm). Image taken from Wikipedia.

I've thought about identity in my work for a while now, thinking about my family, who they were, and about how that informs who I am. A few years back I was feeling pretty isolated in my exploration of identity, that is until I went to an art opening for my friend and fellow artist Jeanne Vockroth. Seeing her work was seeing everything that I had ever been thinking about expressed in a similar and new way. Jeanne and I had been making art about the same things at the same time without even knowing what the other one was working on. 

Jeanne Vockroth, Francis and Herbert, 2014. Acrylic, tissue paper, ink, embroidery floss, and photo transfer on paper. Image taken from

There are so many instances of artists thinking about the same things at the same time without being in conversation with one other. We are often unaware that someone else is out there feeling what we are feeling, seeing what we are seeing. Such instances point to larger cultural shifts and moments that will define our collective history. More than that, however, it shows how we we are all connected, usually unaware of that connection, as we go about our day ordering the same meals and reflecting on the same things.

The Syrup Festival, 2012. 30 x 40 in. Oil on canvas. This is a painting from the heritage festival I've grown up going to all my life. One of the main features of the festival is the Beall-Ross House that my great-grandparents lived in.


Popular Posts