I make most of my living these days off commissions of various kinds. Pet portraits, non-pet portraits, record covers, poster designs, book reviews, and a bunch of other kinds I’ve chosen to forget. Sometimes though someone wants a picture I might’ve painted without being asked. That was the case with the one above. It was commissioned by a woman who’s moving out of state and wanted a keepsake of her neighborhood. It happens to be in my neighborhood and I know someone who lives in the building. All paintings have a backstory, a narrative known only to the painter. I’ve always wrestled with how much to say about the significance or meaning of the subjects I choose to paint; the trouble being that the artist’s words tend to dictate how a viewer will interpret the picture rather than using their own eyes and minds. Oftentimes I’d rather know nothing of an artist’s intentions or hopes. The words feel like a crutch, a way to prop up mediocre work. Other times a bit of explanation enhances the experience. In any case, I might’ve painted this without being asked.
Down the street from my place is a coffeeshop called Jackalope. I’ve been spending a lot of time there in the 5 months or so I’ve lived in Bridgeport. The other day it dawned on me that I’ve been logging serious time at coffeeshops for all the 18 years since I moved back to Chicago from Boston. I was 26 then, I’m going on 45 now and very little has changed.
I’m still trying to figure out how not to have a job, how to depict these places where people work, talk, romance each other and otherwise live. These paintings and drawings are my way of documenting moments and eras in time. I won’t hazard to guess what it all really means or whether it means anything at all but obviously these places have grabbed my interest for going on 20 years and that’s gotta add up to something. Perhaps you can tell me what that might be.
Last Sunday I got to watch and listen to my friends George and Lawrence play in their old band Groundspeed for the first time in some 14 years. I’m not at all interested in nostalgia but it was good to see these guys honoring a thing they did long ago just for the sake of doing it. It wasn’t a cash grab or sentimental wallowing as so many reunions tend to be and I was glad to’ve been there.
So, I’ve caved in and signed up for this newsletter service. The main reason, of course, is convenience and ease of use. The programmers that design these things are miles ahead of anything I could ever even begin to learn so why fool myself, right? You have to pick your battles so sometimes it’s best to leave some of the minutiae to the professionals. I can’t imagine that there will be any substantive difference from my regular newsletter aside from your being able to unsubscribe easily and the formatting being better. But if you for some reason have a strong opinion on this please don’t hesitate to let me know.