Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here, for viewing pleasure, are two paintings I have in my kitchen that I adore. Not only for their beauty, which is manifest, but for the insights they have afforded me. They are both quite large and dominating -if you like them click on the photos for much better images.

The kitties and lobsters was painted by a guy named John Dufault, who was an art teacher for adolescents with difficulties. That is how I met him, writing a story for the newspaper about art as therapy. Sadly, he died shortly after I bought this painting, over 10 years ago. Whenever I glance at it I marvel at its rich exuberance, joy, irreverance, and tactile relations between critters and fruit.

There's a story there though. A little after this was delivered, I noticed something. And it sort of seemed like maybe it was a sly joke. This generated quite of a bit of debate. My sister, after a minute, picked up and agreed. My mother figured it out, but said it was a trick of perspective, and not intentional. I have since reversed my initial assessment and agree with my mother that it is a meaningless flip of the tail. But it gave me pause and I learned quite a bit about perception in the process.

I mean, all paintings are sensual and erotic if they're any good, aren't they? Whether deliberate or not!

The next painting I purchased from an art student in Philadelphia that I came across by chance, at an annual sidewalk sale in Rittenhouse Square. She wanted $800, which I couldn't afford, but she agreed to take monthly installment payments. After about 6 months, I went back down to pick it up, and there I had a true epiphany about art, and the power of the human imagination.

When I first saw it I told her it reminded me of a gorgeous and lush Matisse exhibit I had just seen in DC, as almost an homage to his work but more vigorous, saturated and free, if such a thing is possible. Turns out, she had been to the same exhibit and painted this directly in response.

Well, her studio was her apartment, and it was a cramped, dark, tiny space. I saw the props she used to create the painting I have had in my kitchen ever since, and incredibly, they consisted of a tacky plastic vase and platter, fake fruit, shoddy imitation flowers, and a hideous vinyl cloth of the most grotesque colors!

I was utterly astonished, humbled, and impressed.

I have tried to find Ellen Fiedler since then, and last hint I had, she had moved to Asia. What an incredibly talented person. And how lucky I am to make my morning coffee under that stunning still life every morning.


  1. You have a great eye.. both conscious and subconsious.

  2. Oh thank you Richard Pauli! I will try to retake the pictures in better light sometime, the quality could be better.


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