I remember planting seeds as a child, kneeling in the earth; the wonder of that experience has been with me all my life. That a speck of a seed, given soil, water and light, could become a beautiful flower, was an event too marvelous to comprehend. My response to this miracle of nature and of life was, and is, wonder, anticipation, joy and ultimately, reverence. This is what I try to express and celebrate in my art.
In my painting I attempt to reflect intimately my impressions of living things or the parts of living things that metaphorically suggest the whole in celebration of being.
Others of my paintings are about seeds. The seeds represent existence before being. I saw them in my mind’s eye and wanted to put their potential in a mysterious yet nurturing and allowing environment.
There are two other variations in my latest work. One takes the form of elongated organic “cone” shapes. The cone is open at one end and may be viewed with the wide part either up or down, suggesting the unity of birth and death, beginning and ending and beginning again…..
The other theme I call “duo”. These forms are two halves of a whole. They are opposing yet complementary – one could not exist without the other. My experience is that our lives are dichotomous. There is our inner world which we share as spiritual beings and there is the outer world which we learn about and must live in – the eternal and the temporal experiences. To unite the two experiences, to allow them to sing in harmony, if you will, is to generate light, love and compassion.
If the viewer can sense something familiar, something elemental and reassuring finally, in contemplating the images I suggest, then I think my work has some worth.
I use the softest, finest quality pastels available and soft cotton paper which accepts and absorbs multi-layers of color. My fingers are my brushes.
I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. During my 31 year career in art education with Milwaukee Public Schools and UW-Milwaukee I explored many different media with my students.
My work has been exhibited in Wisconsin and in the San Francisco Bay Area and may be found in private collections throughout the country.
In my most recent work I am employing acrylic paint, brushing this medium on canvases from small to large. Occasionally I choose watercolor on paper for its freedom and transparency.
However, that which compels me to express does not change. My paintings continue to be my response to the natural world, every component of which is alive, constantly rhythmically and harmoniously moving and changing in response to some mysterious consciousness of the unity of life.
The subject of much of my latest work is landscape, various places at different moments during all seasons.
I can only attempt to describe what my paintings are about; ultimately, they must speak for themselves.
The last we saw of Atticus Finch, when the Oscar winning performance of Gregory Peck’s film followed the release of the novel, he was sitting in the corner of injured son Jem’s bedroom, the warm arms of his cardigan sweater wrapping and re-wrapping around the clinging figure of his daughter Scout, the three of them recovering from a painful experience of racism, hatred, and violence, and the often lonely cost of standing against it.
I have a feeling that many of us, both on the stage and in the audience, whether fans of the book or film or both, join Scout and her older self Jean Louise in waiting to see Atticus again.
The play strikes a chord for me as I had a very Atticus-like father, a dead ringer in both looks and mannerisms and as I grew into an adult and journalist, I had the opportunity to see lawyers and judges in action at the county courthouse in Virginia. And just as I still get that experience today covering trials today in rural Wisconsin, I also have witnessed the conflicts of race and prejudice all too recently near us in Milwaukee and through the nation.
Like Scout at the start of the play we wait for Atticus to return from the courthouse. Like Jean Louise at the end we look back through the window, and through the decades, wishing we could go back to him, to speak to him and finish the lessons. Lessons of putting ourselves in others shoes, and realizing that even as we rail against what isn’t right, we are not alone as others quietly do the uncomfortable business of protecting Mockingbirds be they a Tom Robinson or a Boo Radley.
I suspect those of us who were graced with a great father miss him; and those of us who didn’t miss and yearn for such an experience.
Fortunately Christopher Sergel’s play gives us that opportunity in an up-close and live setting not to be missed. It’s been said that in some ways To Kill A Mockingbird is a love letter from novelist Harper Lee to her father. Of the several Sergel versions of the play that exist, the one being performed at Waukesha Civic Theatre comes closest to depicting that moment, and lifetime of reaching out to Atticus.
It’s a safe bet you’ll feel him reaching back and holding you safe.
Written by Jim McClure, who plays Judge Taylor in To Kill A Mockingbird at the Waukesha Civic Theatre