Vienna – Los Angeles

I started painting this one just after my friend Fiona had given me the Live Aid (1985) DVD for a Christmas. I’d forgotten how much I loved Ultravox as a teenager, and it was nice to be reunited with this old friend, especially the song Vienna. So, because I listened to this song about, oh… 7 or 8 million times while painting this hanging, unfortunately, that is the name it got!

This hanging was painted for Glen, a Director of Photography (cinematographer) for major motion pictures in Hollywood and around the world. I wanted this hanging to represent a reel of film – each shutter opening to capture something different, to capture a small section of his life. Although this is one of my smaller hangings, it is one of my most symbolic. This hanging now resides in his house in Los Angeles (Hollywood Hills), California.

The border of this hanging represents a reel of film. Film also represents movement, going forward, as well as the importance and passion for capturing the essence of things (moving or still, on film or in memory). Different colours on the border represent seeing a different colour (so to speak) every time your soul looks through the lens, and how we’re constantly changing and are not even the person we were 30 seconds ago (well, at a cellular level, more so with growth, we can look at the same thing 5 years down the road and see something different, better (hopefully) or something we once clung to and now have become free from). The same colours may come around, but with each pass, we’re different, or they are different. We are more vibrant, and thus as a reflection of ourselves, they are too. Essentially different. The essence of change. Wow… that a lot for a bunch of rectangles hey!

Top square. The seer (as in see-er, one who sees). I’ve only used this image once before on one of my earliest hangings, and it is interesting to see how much it has evolved (better, deeper, more layers). This ties into the border a great deal, in regards to how one chooses to see the world. Half full, half empty (or fully full as I say – half full of water, half full of air… just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there… sheesh!). Glancing up at whatever it is you believe moves the cosmos or having a universe of creative emergence glance upon you occasionally (yeah… she’s cute AND deep.. I know, hard to be me…). For me this is the visual that comes to mind when I think of the quote, “Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth” and is thus the quintessence of this image. So, you can go deeper with this square and revel in the fact that your questions were the universal questions asked by generations of seekers and the insider status that comes with a being a part of a lineage of seekers (for whatever it is you wish to seek); or it can be the ponderance of the fact that (so says Ken Wilber) the universe is only 12 billion years and scientists consistently show that 12 billion years isn’t enough time to produce a single enzyme by chance, so something other than chance must be giving rise to the ordered universe yada yada yada. Course, it can also just be a dude staring at the sky taking a light meter reading as well. At the end of the day it is whatever the person looking at it wants to see.

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The idea for this came from a huge theatre poster I saw when I lived in Australia some time between 1994 and 1997 (I think it was winter and it was hanging in a Mosman movie theatre stairwell, that’s all I remember). It was the size of an entire wall, probably 8 feet wide by about 12 feet long. I can’t remember the title, but it was black and white and 80% of the poster was the face of this forlorn mime /clown. Looking down and slightly to the side, crestfallen. I have spent hours upon hours on the internet trying to find it (I wanted to buy it, but how do you find something you don’t know the name of), without any success. So, I decided to just paint something that evoked the same feeling. This painting took about 5 or 6 years to evolve, and I still am not satisfied that I have captured exactly what I want. Luckily, Fiona and Andy loved this one, it so I gave it to them.

The title comes from the song of the same name from The Mission soundtrack (and actual definition not lost on me either, well known in many Catholic ceremonial functions, at the Burial of the Dead, obtaining divine mercy for the sick, and used in other religions such as the Jewish Day of Atonement). Anyway, it’s more to do with emotions evoked from the song that the religious attributes. I’d known all along that would be my title. I just couldn’t find the image I wanted. Several years went by when I happened to flip by the “Constant Craving” video by k.d. lang on TV, and remembered how much I loved that video, as well as how much I was bothered by the imagery. I thank Poltergeist for the reason I don’t like clowns… but it’s different when it’s a sad clown / mime. Sad clowns I am okay with (well, still bothered by them, but in a sympathetic way – not in a way they’re gonna drag me under the bed and strangle me to death). Anyway, there was an image and emotion in that video I thought I could use. Then as I was ready to paint the Tragically Hip CD In Violet Light came out, and I fell in love with the song “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.” It was also translated well into French (as I had other phrases I was going to use that didn’t translate so well). So I stuck that in there as well.

I made up all the names on the poster. Gabriel Godard, for those who don’t know me well enough or couldn’t guess, is a homage to Peter Gabriel (Godard meaning “God Like”).

There will be another poster like this some time in the future. I have been mulling over ideas the past few years and have come up with some different images. But still, not there quite yet and at present I am slowly digesting the idea of where I want to take it next. Give me a few more years…

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