Since posting my Edward Hopper piece, I've been doing some thinking, mostly due to a few comments that forced the issue. I talked in the post about how my topic was light, as well as the passing of summer, but I lost some sleep last night because I felt a nagging sense that something was amiss in this post. I woke up early this morning, very early, trying to get to the bottom of that twinge of unknowing. Then, I realized I'd given the wrong title to one of the paintings. So, I got out of bed, went to the computer, and made the correction (just a little OCD). Since I was there, I read and published the newly posted comments. Then I went back to bed.
And then, I really couldn't sleep. A comment left by Cletis, who talked about how he found the Hopper paintings "terrifying" and "upsetting," left me unsettled. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to take a look at this.
Well, I have to admit, a part of me certainly understands that someone could, indeed, find them unsettling. It's not an emotion I'm entirely unfamiliar with as it relates to these paintings.
And then there is George's comment, which arrived this afternoon, in which he talks about Hopper's characters, who seem to have a propensity for, "wondering...endlessly wondering what is out there, how one person, so seemingly insignificant, fits into the larger scheme of things," noting that he found it reassuring that others are also wondering.... And that got me wondering, mainly because I could relate to it.
So then I had to ask myself, why did I focus on the light? Am I unwilling to look at the shadow? I know the shadow has no power except that which I assign to it, but am I choosing to simply ignore even the idea of a shadow? And if so, at what price?
When I was working in the art gallery , one of my favorite clients came in and we somehow started talking about Edward Hopper. He had just finished reading a biography about him, and he told me that Hopper and his wife, Jo, according to the biographer, fought like cats and dogs, regular knock down, drag outs. If this is true (I'm not entirely convinced biographers can remain objective about their subjects), then it goes a long way towards explaining the sense of isolation he seems to have felt. And, although his paintings appear to be about light and shadow, the shadow seems to be the real subject of his work.
Anyway, I may or may not ponder further. My inclination is to just keep moving. All will be revealed. In the meantime, here is a Louis Jenkins prose poem that seems rather apropos. If you recall, he's the poet from Duluth whom Mark Rylance quoted in two Tony acceptance speeches. I've discussed my fondness for Mr. Rylance previously.
Here's Mr. Jenkins:
The time has come to say goodbye, our plates empty except for our greasy napkins. Comrades, you on my left, balding, middle-aged guy with a ponytail, and you, Lefty, there on my right, though we barely spoke I feel our kinship. You were steadfast in passing the ketchup, the salt and pepper, no man could ask for better companions. Lunch is over, the cheese-burgers and fries, the Denver sandwich, the counter nearly empty. Now we must go our separate ways. Not a fond embrace, but perhaps a hearty handshake. No? Well then, farewell. It is unlikely I'll pass this way again. Unlikely we will all meet again on this earth, to sit together beneath the neon and fluorescent calmly sipping our coffee, like the sages sipping their tea underneath the willow, sitting quietly, saying nothing.
~ Louis Jenkins
Images: Edward Hopper's "Compartment," "Empty Room," "New York Movie" "Room in Brooklyn," and "Nighthawks."