Wednesday, August 24, 2005
As the party was breaking up Curtis mentioned that he was a painter,and that he had a show up at the moment, in a small art gallery in Tiburon, and would I like to stop by and see it and let him know what I thought.
Since we were driving down to San Francisco a few days later we stopped off. We liked much of what we saw. His paintings dont break new ground. Theyre easel paintings, never more than four feet in either direction, very colorful, quite representational, with enough internal life and motion to be interesting even though they shun any attempt at intellectual content.
Ive always been a sucker for this kind of thing a weakness that certainly hampered my credibility as an art critic, back in the days when such a thing mattered, if it did. Gradually Ive come to understand the reason for this weakness: my growing up in the country, away from intellectual conversation, from trips to museums, but constantly within the beauty and the vitality of nature.
I dropped Curtis a postcard to tell him I liked much of what Id seen, and a while after that he wrote asking if Id mind writing a paragraph or two about his paintings, explaining that hed use them in a book he was assembling .
I explained that this wasnt the kind of thing I did, but he countered that Id recently written a catalogue essay for a gallery (a retrospective of paintings by Jack Jefferson), and all he wanted was just a few sentences. So I obliged.
He asked what Id charge, and I said forget it, and he insisted, and I said Oh just send me a little drawing, a very little drawing. And he did, a charming ink sketch of a farmhouse among pines and blossoming fruit trees somewhere in Tuscany.
And now the book has arrived. I like leafing through it. I like seeing the unpretentious depictions of places hes enjoyed: Tuscany, Mexico, California, Provence. Who doesnt enjoy such places?
I like the still lifes and especially the interiors, which remind me that the interiors of familiar rooms, bedrooms and living rooms and especially dining areas, have a life of their own, even when theyre not occupied, when theyre empty, partly because of the meaningfulness of the ratios of their heights and widths and volumes, of their colors, of their light and shadow, and partly because of their memories of the life weve left within their walls the many times weve occupied them.