Oil on Canvas, 12x16
To do art is to work with symbols, and I want to invite viewers to step out of the literal and into a symbolic way of thinking. With this mindset, the most mundane object, such as the stones of an old mission, can suggest realities that are beyond everyday experience.
For a number of years, I sought to find my place among those in the avant garde. For me, it was not a slashing brush loaded with oil paint, but automotive lacquer sprayed onto free-form shapes cut from plywood.
These paintings were exhibited in galleries and museums in New Orleans, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and many other venues. As abstract works they had their own language that reflected the zeitgeist of that period. Strangely, others could recognize and read these symbols more clearly than I could. It was only after mounting a large one-person show at a university art museum that I experienced a shock of recognition—my paintings were communicating things that I no longer believed.
I was in what seemed to be a pathless wilderness. Eventually, I found work in commercial design and illustration. This was something that I had scorned as a ‘fine artist.’ As a commercial artist, I was a 37-year-old novice. It was back to square one, and time to learn a new craft.
Ahead of me were many years and many false starts. My attempts to paint were relegated to the weekends. I was discouraged, but I knew that I was a painter, not just a graphic designer. The problem seemed to be finding a subject that was energizing. I tried several series of still life paintings of bread, then of flowers. There were religious paintings, but nothing really seemed to tap into my passion for art. Then came a drive on a back road through the Texas hill country.
Pontotoc, Texas, is a forgotton community with a small, abandoned church. It was a boxy frame structures with a steeple, obviously folk architecture, but there was something fascinating, almost magnetic, about it. Perhaps that fascination was communicated by my painting of this subject because the reaction of viewers was overwhelmingly positive. It was the first of many paintings of churches.