There was a huge turn out for the battles at the Gorilla House on Wednesday evening! I arrived to find the furniture had been shuffled and sure enough, the additional space came in handy as a huge crowd of artists AND viewers arrived, eager for the “WILD RUMPUS” to begin!
The themes, once again, were surprising. 1. Speak when spoken to. 2. Speak the truth 3. Electric Women Hmmm…
Related to the first concept…what came to mind immediately was the context for that particular saying. One typically thinks about ‘speak when spoken to’ as pertaining to the relationship between adults and children.
Voice. Speak. Whisper. Say. I was flooded with images. To begin with, I thought ‘three’…three voices that I may not have listened to…the same voices I heard too deeply at times, so deeply that sometimes their voices hurt like burns on skin. Voices speaking their truths…their pain…their worries…their questions. I thought of the voices of my children. Their words came to mind…hurling at me in the midst of a crowded room of artists and art-minded.
I did not think about my own voice…the times it had been too loud…the times that it spoke weary reminders…lectures…guidance…dumb jokes. My voice was ‘the elephant in the room.’ Through the collage portion of this piece, the book, Water for Elephants came to mind and for a whole number of reasons. Rosie, the elephant came to mind.
The three figures emerged and gradually evolved, as did the text…layer upon layer…transparent, but opaque at the same time. As I connected with the ideas, audience members wove in and out with CONVERSATION…more SPEAK and more. While there were many, I remember two visits in particular. Two women with dark hair, both engaging my subject matter from the half-way point! The art then was SPEAKING! It SPOKE! It was yelling at them. One quietly SAID as they steered to the side…”And look! There’s the elephant in the room!”
Another visit…a man, whirring about the room…filming the laughter, the drinking, the CONVERSATIONS…and then he stopped. He stood still. Everything fell away. He stood in front of my painting and SAID, “I want you to know, I really like this.” It was simple enough…so why did it hit me like it did. I remember SAYING/asking, “Really?” He said, “Yes.” I think it was about how he SAID, really…I really like this.
The figures evolved…hands over mouth…hands over ears…hands over eyes. Speak no evil…hear no evil…see no evil.
On Wednesday night, I thought of three voices.
I thought of a painting I completed in the studio…an African elephant…of poaching for the sake of tusks. I wanted to repeat the one red dot…sun setting…but somehow distorted in its colour by the atmosphere. Brilliant red…as though the heart of the world was weeping. I painted the red circle and it contributed to the resolution of the composition.
Wednesday’s painting was darker than previous Gorilla House works, but that’s ok. And I’d like to thank Aaron McCullough for his purchase at auction. Aaron’s photography business is surprisingly called…you got it…Red Dot Photography!