I finally “finished” this painting after tabling it 2+ years ago. Sometimes, it takes a long time of living with artwork on your walls, glancing at it every day, before it becomes clear what to do with it next. Now I’m looking back at what I wrote about the work in 2014:
Why “dynamo?” Strictly speaking, “dynamo” indicates a generator of some sort, which converts electrical energy to mechanical energy. I once came across this word in a short story, used to describe a dark forest ravine. I never got away from the imagery of the ravine filled with the energy of frog croaks, insect whirrrs, leaves rustling, water flowing etc. Earth/Nature as limitless battery, endless potential for conversion, transformation and sadly, exploitation … It’s fascinating to observe the world this way and to recreate the exchange of energy in the act of painting, which is itself a form of exchange and re-genesis.
Wrapping up this piece, my mind was more or less in the same place. I think the final decisions of what to do were more practical/aesthetic and less conceptual. The repeating blackbirds on an underlying grid provides a sense of iteration, structure, and repetition that we see reflected in the natural world in so many ways. The dancing colors and movement remind me of the myriad permutations energy takes as it travels through nature’s pathways. The blackbirds themselves are significant. Their dark plumage is iridescent, reflecting many colors, and some subspecies mimic the sounds of other birds, predators like cats, even humans. These traits reveal a complexity that is not at once apparent.
I’m still working within the theme of painting itself as a form of exchange parallel to nature, albeit somewhat more abstractly and on a much smaller scale. For me it’s a conceptual theme that has stayed fresh and inspiring with so many potential applications.
Dynamo I was recently shown during a 2 month exhibition at Reverie Cafe + Bar – the lush green nature theme worked magically on their exposed brick walls and provided a stark, warm contrast to the dark, frigid days of Minnesota’s winter.