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How Art and Music Can Change the World classroom and art gallery event
Discovering Utopia series
The woman in the foreground is Christina from the famous Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World”. I grew up with a reproduction of this painting in a coffee table book about Wyeth. As an adult, when I saw his paintings in museums, I was struck by how much looser his work was than I’d imagined, based on reproductions. In the Wyeth painting, Christina appeared to me to be a young woman, but I recently discovered she was fifty-five at the time Wyeth painted her and that she was paralyzed from the waist down. She dragged herself across those fields — that landscape was her world. I included her in “Discovering Utopia” to represent things that appear to be unattainable and unrealistic — such as the essence of utopia, a state of being where things work better and people are happier — but which are potentially possible, within our reach. In my painting, utopia has been discovered in much the same way that Columbus “discovered” America. The question is — how will those in the helicopters proceed? Will they destroy utopia? Take over, contribute to it or respectfully leave it alone? As I continue with the series, it appears to me that Christina might be on the other side of the land mass in my painting “Things Coming in From the Right”.
“Things Coming in from the Right”
APRIL 8, 2007
I wrote a piece for a book project about touring — the piece I wrote is about being on tour as 9-11 was happening. We were in Boston that night. Our 9-12 NYC show was cancelled. We proceeded towards NYC on 9-13, playing across the river from Manhattan, at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. The three circles in the paintings are ground zero, Maxwell’s, and, on 9-14, we went to Princeton and had a coffee in an ice cream parlour, wondering what flavour of ice cream Einstein liked. Strawberry? For some time it was thought that Einstein’s brain had a higher concentration of glial cells — which are important in how nuerons function. This theory was discounted in a study that revealed his brain weighed a little less than average, yet his parietal lobes — vital to math and spacial reasoning — were 15% wider than than most other brains.
9-11 — acrylic on paper — published in “The Art of Touring” (Yeti, 2009) — a beautiful book of stories, photos and art. One third of the profits goes to the Musicians’ Emergency Fund.
Lake Cottages in Winter Series — 8 1/2 X 11″ acrylic on paper
This series is inspired by cottages I saw while vacationing on Cape Cod this past summer and by rock critic Evelyn McDonnell’s new book — a memoir — which illuminates her punk rock rebellion from cookie cutter mid-westernism. I don’t have much experience with lakes, having always been drawn to the sea. As a kid I thought lakes were a questionable destination, a far second to the sea — the Levis of bodies of water; I preferred Lees. Once I got my skinny 10-year-old foot caught between the planks of a wharf at a lake and thoughts of the tide coming in, up and over me, filled my head.
Here, as I gave each cottage its private wharf and trail of chimney smoke, I was thinking about class and community. Painting #1 has strange vertical lines from where I set it on the rack in the oven to dry under the broiler and moved quickly to #2, letting #1 get too hot. The paint didn’t want to adhere to the rack lines. I tried to make them moonlight across the snow and the lake, but hey, we would have to be on a planet with multiple moons to make that believable, as the lines don’t follow in to one light source. The lines became boundaries and borders. Three would be a more compositionally correct number to have selected to deal with, but four seems to press the point of convention — even, not odd. I remember my parents had a Burl Ives record with a drawing of little houses on the cover, Little Boxes, all made of ticky-tacky. There have been other multiple cabins, identical huts and cottage colonies in my life — usually they appear in summer, seen from the road. To me, this image represents a weighing of communist uniformity against capitalist excess — Kafka’s Amerika mixed up with Ry Cooder’s Cuban / Americana guitar.
(note: April, 2007 I think I just wanted to say “vacationing on Cape Cod” — did I mention the lobsters and my $50 a night motel room on the beach?)
“Things Coming in From the Right” — acrylic on paper “Horse & Rider” — acrylic on paper “Pint Glass” — acrylic on velvet
Please email Jean Smith for details
“Things Coming in From the Right” #1 acrylic on paper 8.5 X 11″
“Horse & Rider” #1 by Jean Smith – acrylic on paper 8.5 X 11″ SOLD
“Pint Glass” series in acrylic on cream velvet by Jean Smith 24 X 36″ SOLD
“We’re Here Now. Everything Is Ours. Too Bad For You.” #3 by Jean Smith – acrylic on canvas 18 X 24″
“We’re Here Now. Everything is Ours. Too Bad for You.”
“We’re Here Now. Everything Is Ours. Too Bad For You.” #4 by Jean Smith – acrylic on board 11 X 14″ donated to Books for Prisoners Art Auction