Behind the Art: Let Us Go Then, You and I

Even as a kid I was a big fan of poetry and started writing my own poems by the time I was 10.

As a teenager that came in handy when my friend and I would get together for art projects. I would write lyrics to songs and also inscriptions for some of our posters.

About  a decade later, I arrived in Detroit from Kansas City to cover the auto industry as a journalist. At the time, I still had a bit of a drawl, a mixture of Midwestern and Southern.

To be sure, I would sometimes lay it on a little thick so folks would underestimate me. And it worked…until one day…

I was standing in the newsroom of the Detroit News when one of the reporters suggested I was too uncouth to really know art and poetry.

Suddenly, I stood up in the middle of the room and recited nearly half of “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, one of the great American poems of all time and by far my favorite.

All that background came in handy when I was working on my contemporary surrealism painting, “Let Us Go Then You and I.”

Those are in fact the opening words to Prufrock, and I believe it really speaks volumes about what I’m trying to say with the very bold and colorful painting.

Yes, it’s part of the Spirits of Babylon series that is my take on the meaning of life and our search for meaning and potential laid bare by the Covid crisis.

For this painting, I also took a page out of Charlie Chaplin’s great silent movie, “Modern Times,” a comedy about the impact of industrialization on the human soul. I believe strongly that during much of Covid our so-called “leaders” treated us a little more than cogs in a giant machine.

That’s why the group on each side of the giant energy flow are heading down what could be a staircase or an escalator. It’s meant to suggest an assembly line. To give this aspect a more ethereal feel and also to let the viewer in on my sardonic sense of humor, I gave the characters robes like singers in a choir might wear and adorned them with infinity symbols.

And how about that giant energy flow? It’s open to interpretation but I think it signifies the energy that guides our universe and that we as humans are too simple to understand. And the three inner circles at the center of it all could signify life, like the dawn of being itself emerging from the Big Bang.

Note the outlines of faces at the top of the left and right of the canvas. I thought that added a spiritual element as if to suggest we are being looked at from on high, not guided exactly, but certainly the universal spirit seeks to communicate with us. Or more accurately, us with it.

I’m very happy with the way this painting came out, the color story and the meaning it envelopes and I hope you like it as well. 

Click here to see the painting and the video.