I just finished Saga 5, and it's been a long time coming. This one is about the pandemic. I started it last spring when magnolias and cherry blossoms were blooming all over Philadelphia and we were becoming aware of an airborne virus.
For a lot of the time during the last year I didn't feel like I could work on this painting. I made about this much of it (above) and then stopped for a while. I'd occasionally paint in one of the bubbles, but often I was too overwhelmed to paint. My show at the Rosewood Art Centre was postponed, my nerves were shot, and I found it most helpful to dive into new media. I've acquired lots of new technical skills that have pushed my art to some interesting new places, but this painting languished for a while.
The wave is full of bubbles, swimmers, bodies and ghosts. All the bubbles show some aspect of pandemic life, and almost all feature computer screens. The top bubble in the image above is a riff on Degas' Interior , which is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
There are some personal moments in the bubbles, too. I'm the frog in the pink sweatshirt who is teaching online, and my son is the bored kid doing online learning in the top left. There are also more than a few references to the protests, as well as sourdough, yoga, essential workers and scenes based on artists and families who I know.
Once the vaccine started to feel like a real possibility I started painting again, and this week, one vaccination down, I finished it.
The flying businessmen are back.
They are excited about these guys, who are based on the thugs who invaded the capitol and their supporters & enablers. (I've tried to paint Trump in several of these pieces, but I'm really allergic to his face, and this is the closest I could come; his mouth is yelling on the top left. )
Below them are these frogs, who show up in several other paintings. I was thinking about the protests, and the election, and the people who fought so hard to hang on to our democratic processes. This part is directly based on Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware . The long banner that wraps around the characters would say Black Lives Matter if it were stretched out.
You can see these pieces larger on my website and pretty soon they will be on view in person, which is super exciting. They're going to the Rosewood Art Center in Kettering Ohio from April 12- May 14th. I can't wait to see them all in one room.