Wednesday, December 26, 2007

past people

Off and on I've been searching and patching together the past people in my family. No award winners or revolutionary soldiers here. A hard working nose to the grindstone bunch. Their times seem amazing when you read a little history and understand the difficulties.

But my great grandfather was a bit different. An artist and art teacher, born in Austria, he seems a free spirit. Off painting in the Sierras and other wild points in the summer, painting around the SF bay area other times, helped him balance the ties of a family and teaching. He sang, he acted, he purchased expensive vases and bric a brac they couldn't afford and trotted home to give his children peppermints in the middle of the night.

Is it better to know your past people through a bit of writing, photos or odd documents rather than knowing what they really were like? We might be disappointed at the prosaic reality of their lives. Certainly it would be difficult to relate to their daily existence. And would we be dismayed at the lack of broad scope in their thinking? I'm assuming that they didn't have the understanding of what is occurring in the rest of the world as we do. I'm assuming that they might harbor prejudices against racial, social and economic differences. They did go to church a lot.
In my experience, church can be a narrowing thing.

I don't think my great grandfather went to church. He went to paint. And he looked at everything and every one with non judgemental eyes. Only concerned with composition, form, and in his day, accuracy.
So, I guess I would really have liked to know him.

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I am living and painting in the little town of Houston. A far way from my San Francisco beginnings. I paint what I see of the human condition, be it human, animal or object. The glimmer of humor, pathos, and spirit in so much of what I see is the basis of what I paint.


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