Escape to a mysterious freedom
Escape to a mysterious freedom

“Escape To A Mysterious Freedom” is one of several paintings inspired by my time in New Mexico. It is a 2007 oil on canvas and depicts a lone, female rider. It is a surreal variation of Gauguin’s Riders On The Beach. The woman is on a tension-filled promenade and the freedom which awaits her is an unknown one. I had read St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night Of The Soul’ shortly before painting this and that certainly factored in.

This triptych of western themed paintings followed time spent out west. More than that, they stem from my childhood love of the western, which is one of America’s greatest genres (along with jazz and baseball).

Saturday Night Roundup was one of my early childhood rituals. I possibly benefitted more from my father’s Christmas toy of an 8mm projector, even more than Dad did. Johnny Mack Brown westerns were my favorite, no small part due to the presence of Beth Marion. With Tim McCoy and Ken Maynard also gracing our collection and a certified addiction to Paladin reruns, Gary Cooper and Randolph Scott, the western was an inimitable and inexplicable source of magic in my life. It was for that reason, I joined the minority of my peers in preferring Elvis to the Beatles. Elvis made westerns (Flaming Star-1960, being his best). The Beatles didn’t. Undoubtedly, the Beatles were superior artists, but Elvis had a golden voice, could belt out a gospel better than almost anyone (Mahalia Jackson excepted) and cut a too cool figure in jeans atop a horse.

The western paintings convey a type of sojourn, which I was not completely conscious of until after I had painted them.Perhaps the Adam and Eve myth is simply a metaphor for early childhood as a type of Eden we latently seek to regain. Everyone’s idea of Eden, of course, is different, and my sanctuary partly consisted of that western mythology flickering across our otherwise drab white walls.