Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are You Hoping for a Miracle?

Above is the finished A Sense of Loss - 24x48 inches and Are You Hoping for a Miracle? - 10x20 inches.  I finished them two weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to post them.  It's been a crazy two weeks.

I almost entitled A Sense of Loss - "The Postman Always Rings Twice" after the crime noir novel, but decided that although the mood was there the station really didn't resemble the one in the book closely enough.  I do think the "Postman" title will be fitting for one of the works within this body of work.  The novel really does typify the psyche of how these roadside stations and diners were rapidly built in an almost gold rush urgency and boomed and busted just like all the little mining towns throughout the western United States during the Gold Rush.  I think the deserts of the Southwest are filled with little towns and small urban outposts that have sprouted up only to die and wither away like desert flowers when the heat of summer sets in.  The above gas stations came into being and ultimately abandoned in more recent history, but I think that more fuel efficient cars along with the growth of surrounding towns had a lot to do with their demise.  The need for people to stop and refuel at these middle of nowhere gas stations ceased and pretty soon these businesses ceased to be.  I named Are You Hoping for a Miracle in light of how the owner and the employees of that business must have felt.  I guess being an employee of a printshop that had to close it's doors due to the economic downturn and well changes in the industry (printing is used a lot more sparingly in the digital age) - I feel like I've been there.  Your hoping desperately that customers will come back in droves to save the place from going under, yet you know that it would take a miracle for that to happen.  I think about this when painting these paintings.

I also think about my childhood.  My family would just pick up and move from state to state with no job or place to live lined up when I was a kid.  There was a six to seven year period where my family migrated from place to place this way only to return back home to Phoenix where we started.  Now I find it amusing, but at the time that was a dreadful twist of fate.  The lesson I learned was that although my mom was looking for this ideal, perfect place across eight states; what she was really searching for was never out there to begin with.  Almost like running to stand still.

This life experience though has given me a perspective on the reality of the highway.  I remember us living in weekly stay motels or seasonal condos for months at a time, while we got settled in to new jobs, schools or my mom decided that the place wasn't for her.  Most of the moves occurred during the summer to facilitate, but not always.  I felt like I was either behind or ahead depending on where we moved to.  Also, being the perpetual new kid wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It always seemed that as soon as I was starting to fit in or established a few close friends it was time to go again.  I remember staring out the car window mile after lonely mile wishing that we weren't leaving while hoping the next place would be "it".

In short, the theme of this new body of work is still about a sense of place and people that inhabit them, but also functions as a intimate portrait of someone who's lived on the road and just like my memories are all the past, so are these stations my mom filled up at when moving my family all over hell and back.