Grey Route Messaging | soft pastel on sanded paper | 9×14 | 2020
My melancholy mood might’ve started at the end of 2019. I painted a woman in a cleanroom suit under cold overhead lights, holding a small glowing universe. In December what I thought was a riff on the Sacred Heart, by February seemed an awful lot like a Covid-19 illustration. With the pandemic lockdown in March, working in Boston suddenly was not possible. The building housing my studio was locked. My family spent weeks in quarantine, then isolation, as we recovered from varying intensities of the virus. We’ve been seasonal residents of Maine for 17 years and this year the house was opened early. Without a full studio’s worth of supplies, and not able to work with a model, I flailed for ideas on how to work. Feeling morbid I needed to paint as it lifts my mood and entire existence. Most of my paintings are figurative, I don’t usually enjoy still life, but I’ve had an idea rattling around for a couple of years based on graffiti in my neighborhood. It’s cynical and makes me smile whenever I pass it. Dirty worthless objects have been tagged “NOT ART”. This was the nihilistic message that fit my mood during isolation. Working from several photos taken over the years, and a real live banana, I worked out a composition that was true to the subversive message and reflected my need to lighten the spirit of the day. The title is “Grey Route Messaging” as Grey Routes are a form of illicit text messaging from a fraudulent source to a legitimate receiver. Tagging is also an illicit form of messaging. This painting communicates diffused references, from Cattalan’s cynical “not art” banana to the egocentric tagging of one’s name on a building.