Monday, January 19, 2015

Circling Back

 It's been quite some time since I posted here last. And, in the elapsed time there have been bicycle adventures and misadventures.  There are visual endeavors and sonic projects to recap.  Currently, I am in the midst deep winter preoccupation with mapping a route from Milwaukee straight West to the mighty Mississippi and back.

 In the past 5 years, my children have gone from munchkins to youngsters and, with that, a recalibration of purpose has transpired.  Reinvention is always at the core of the creative engine and my core has been in a molten state for some time now, although the crust layer can be hard to penetrate; perhaps, this journal exercise will again help me survey, sample and assess what it is I am trying to do with my time on this earth...

What follows is a lightly edited post that I began in late 2010

Works in progress....part two

....On Lynden Hill

When the sun felt like spring this past April it seemed time to head east on my morning constitutional dog walk. A handful of blocks from my house is the site of what I belive was an asylum. A spot that I know as Lynden Hill. It is directly across the street from The High School for the Arts...(formerly Known as West Division). The neighborhood that I have resided in for the past 15 years is at the historical core of Milwaukee. Lynden Hill is located directly between Cold Spring Park (my hood....once trotter park, and fun zone for Milwaukee socialites), and the outer campus area of Marquette University.
What remains at the site of the hospital is earth piled a story high to the south end of the city square. In itself, it does create a hill with a gentle slope to the north; however, I am not sure if the hospital once stood on this hill? It is safe to say that the hill has been there for some time as the neighborhood has cultivated that spot and calls itself a "treehouse community". The incidental arboretum that has endured has a wonderful variety of specimen. It is cared for and managed to a degree, by folks from the USDA Forest Service,...among other agencies. 
 As a plot it is not tremendous, but still nearly equal to perhaps two football fields side to side. This hill became a destination for the dog an I. Our approach would be from different angles and I was initially struck by the view looking south as the trees and earth formed a barrier to visually negotiate this space, while peering at glimpses of the city. The trees were still quite bare when I had my first encounters there. And, in the process of scouting other locations I let time pass-by. Upon returning a bit later in the season to begin work, I realized quickly that I had to move up the hill. The foliage overwhelmed the image I saw early on. I eventually settled on a site in the southeastern corner. The view looks across the lot for the High School and then across Highland Blvd. Through the tree growth that lines the street you can see glimpses of The Ambassador Hotel and other dwellings. This panel was the first to be worked up with an underdrawing and loosely became a guide for the things I found interesting in subsequent images.

...View from Lynden Hill: underdrawing

...with imprimatura applied

...after the first session of painting

...detail: View from Lynden Hill

View from Lynden Hill 2010
oil and beeswax on panel

View beyond the Yard

The site on top of the hill offered, with the view, a place to paint in solitude. Only once did I encounter other people and they were there to mow the grass. The one other painting from this season's work that I found myself working in near isolation was the View Just Beyond the Yard. I have made several drawings while casting my gaze in this direction. Some from my studio on the thrid floor and one that was composed from a similar vantage point.

Rooftops/ S.E. 2003
oil pastel on prepared paper

Rooftps/ april snow 2003
oil pastel on prepared paper

Backlot 2003
graphite on paper

Outbuilding 2003
oil pastel on prepared paper

Over a short amount of time, I have watched as the vine structure that walks the walls of the garage in Outbuilding, running along the picket fence, take hold and propgate rapidly. Just across the lot a wall of speedy growing, Armageddon immune trees and shrubs have entwined to make an additional layer of greens in the background of this view, as seen from ground level. In late summer these trees in the distance begin a subtle shift towards yellow as the deeper foreground leaves seem to fall down the value scale until they turn a range of sienna to iron oxide. it is at the precipice of these seasonal changes that the quality of light begins to visually seperate this space. The light pole is then a rather forceful lever that asserts its location and works to pry these layers of space apart.

...detail: View Beyond the Yard

...View Beyond the Yard: underdrawing

A View Beyond the Yard 2010
oil and beeswax on linen

29th & Wells 

Wells Street runs west from the lake. It passes City Hall and the Pabst Theatre just east of the Milwaukee River. the immediate west of the river is home to many civic institutions in the Milwaukee metro area. The County Court House, Natural History (Public) Museum and main branch of the Public Library are all crossed before passing west of interstate 43. Just beyond the freeway is the eastern perimeter of the Marquette University. In the midst of the campus is the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, which itself is not far from the Pabst Mansion. Beyond say, 23rd or maybe 24th streets things turn a bit strained. Much of the property, though once charming and certainly well made, has seen years of neglect. It is an area with deeply entrenched poverty. By the time you cross 27th street there are glimpses of a late Nineteenth & early Twentieth century architecture worth noting. Interspersed with random public housing structures and cinder block tenement style apartments that stand out as the exact opposite in every way to their Victorian neighbors. part of this stretch...running from roughly 24th street to 35th had been called "crack alley" by our current chief of police. The corner of 29th and Wells is a mere 1/2 mile due south of where I live in Cold Spring Park. I enjoyed working this corner a great deal. And I was treated to honest commentary and conversation everyday from the most diverse group of humans that have ever laid eyes on my work and had taken the time to comment. It is fair to say it was not the usual commentary that one might expect in a gallery setting. 

...View from 29th & Wells 29th & Wells

...underdrawing 29th & Wells

View from 29th & Wells

Circling Back

 I started these next few panels in the fall of 2010. They are all in  an underdrawing form with a light imprimatura brushed over the top. And they are a continuation of formal investigations from earlier in this post. It's the view to the south east as seen from my attic windows. I think they deserve to be fleshed out. So in an effort to move forward as a painter, I should circle back and bring these to a resolution.

Attic Views / S.E.

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