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Spirit of the Ages Series

As an avid student of history I have come to believe that there is a flow to history and that history is cyclical - this has all happened before and it will all happen again. I began to contemplate the age I live in and the beliefs that drive the political, religious, and social actions of my time. My reaction to this spirit of my age is the motivation for the paintings in this series.

  • The Coming Storm

    Walking along an isolated beach the scenery suddenly turned ominous. The inviting sand beach had become hard rocks, and the cave to my right was to dark to explore. The trees were gone and the that one remained was dead and had been pushed down a cliff which towered above me. Even the clear blue sky had turned an eerie red. There was a storm coming.

  • Dance of Death

    A black & white TV lies abandoned among other trash at the edge of a field, being slowly overgrown by vines. Although broken and without power, an altered version of an Edvard Munch painting “The Dance of Life” is displayed on the screen. I had seen scenes like this many times before while passing by houses at night. In every home the dancing light can be seen in at least one window, and maybe more. The message has been carefully crafted and delivered. The message controls the present and in so doing seeks to shape the future. We think we see and have our own opinions, but I wonder how much we have been deceived.

  • Taught by Azazel

    There was something inside of me that I could not express in words, and from experience knew that only when the painting was finished could I begin to contemplate what it all meant. On the surface you see me in great distress turning to escape the barren desert that seeks to engulf me. Behind there is a gathering storm and a beautiful woman grabbing my hair. Her long red hair swirls throughout the composition, but has not entwined me yet. The story of Azazel from the Book of Enoch came to mind, "when the world was changed. There was a great lack of reverence for God… and all their ways became corrupt.”

  • Crossing the Line

    In the painting a nude female looks directly at the viewer while stepping over what at first glance appears to be a fallen branch - a branch that is clearly blocking the path she is taking. The “fallen branch” she is straddling is connected to the leafless & threatening trees on both sides of her. It is not clear whether she is moving towards or away from us. If she is moving away the path she will take leads straight into a field of dead grass lit by an ominous sky. If she is moving towards us the path she will encounter is flanked by lush, green grass. Whichever way she is going she is crossing the line.

  • It Seems Like a Good Idea

    For those familiar with art history the depiction of a reclining female nude will come as no surprise. As early as 1510 the renaissance painter Giorgione painted “The Sleeping Venus” in a landscape. The tradition continued with Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (1534) & Manet’s “Olympia” (1865) to name a few. To deny that there is a connection between these paintings and mine would be ill-advised, but exactly what the connection is and how far it goes needs to be carefully considered. In this painting a reclining nude female gazes at the viewer, a gaze that could easily be seen as seductive. The rough and weathered tree has caused her no discomfort, nor has the unidentifiable species of vine that has begun to wrap around her legs and hands. Behind the vines red paint lends an ominous feel as does the sky that has begun to glow red. The danger is apparent, yet, even with all this it seems like a good idea.

  • Spirit of the Age

    In this self-portrait we see the artist peering from behind his painting; he has copied a portion of a 15th century painting attributed to the school of Hieronymus Bosch. The artist has made changes to the interior of the tent and the flag in the center of the painting, making it more than a mere copy. The tablet the artist is painting from displays a 15th century Bosch painting titled “Extracting the Stone of Madness”. It was thought a stone in the head was the cause of madness and removing the stone was a cure. It is curious that what is displayed on the tablet does not “visually match” the painting on the easel. However, the manner in which the doctor is holding his knife and the way the artist is holding his brushes tells us that the display on the tablet and his painting are indeed linked.

Decline of an Empire

Throughout the expanse of time nations have risen and fallen. Ruins, relics and their art tell us something about who they were, what they thought, and what they valued. And then there are some that have fallen and faded away without leaving a trace. Why would I think that my nation will be any different than those who have risen and fallen before? Where we go one, we go all.

  • This Has All Happened Before

    Empires flourish for their appointed time, begin their decline, and fall never to return. The evil practiced willfully by some and forced on others has ended. The rejection of the natural order has taken its toll; it was a slow but certain outcome. God will not be mocked. In His mercy He gives the world a chance for a new beginning.

  • Abandoned and Fogotten

    Looking at this building it is obvious that whoever built it did so with pride and craftsmanship. It was built to last and the basic structure is still sound. But the window has not been maintained and the protection offered by the paint and glass is mostly gone. An attempt was made to keep the forces out by covering the window with plastic, but it could never stand against the forces that would seek to destroy it. Now, it lies abandoned and for most people, forgotten.

  • A Long Time Coming

    A purposeful search led me to an all but forgotten winding road where something caught my eye, compelling me to stop. Illuminated by a dull overcast sky stood a once proud and well-built dwelling. Whoever built this house took pride in the construction and craftsmanship. Now abandoned the weeds and vines were taking over, chocking out the last bit of life it once had. Why would such a place be left to such a fate? Why would all the hard work and sacrifice be left to rot? Whatever the reason, it was a long time coming.

  • It's Getting Closer

    While exploring the tundra in a very remote area I came upon a stand of aspen trees that had been mowed down by an early spring snow. At least that is what it appeared to be on the surface. I have read aspens are a single organism and I wondered how the onslaught would effect those that remained. These were not just fallen trees. It was another picture of the decline of an empire. It’s getting closer and much sooner than most would imagine.

  • Remains of a Dream

    A building sits in the strong sunlight casting long and heavy shadows. It is unclear if the building is abandoned or still in use. If it is in use there is much that needs to be repaired. If it is abandoned the process is well on its way. Nothing can be seen through the deep, inky black windows so we can never know by just looking. We must be patient, watch, and see. I do not think we have much longer to wait.

  • It Won't Take Long

    Heavy duty hardware cloth has replaced the glass that once covered the now weathered window frames. Although the wood is very weathered there are still bits of white paint clinging to the surface. The screen in the windows is still intact, but in one corner someone or something has rolled back a small section. Vines are growing up the side of the building casting shadows as they climb. It won’t take long now.

  • Fenced In

    As I walked along the side of a field I saw a metal fence post covered with poison ivy. I stopped to study the barb wire and the tangle of brush as it seemed to have deep meaning to me. I was drawn to the tentacles of the vine which had reached out and trapped the post, offering no way of escape, either for the vine or post. I walked away wondering what it all meant.

  • We Know Best, Don't We

    On a rural and isolated gravel road a once majestic house struggles against the elements. A 1960’s Ford, a 4-door suitable for a family, sits in the green grass unable to move. The wheels have been removed. The trees are black and menacing as is the stormy sky in the background. So much time and effort had been expended, to what end? It is only a matter of time before the house falls and the car rusts away. Even so, we know best don’t we.

  • No One to Blame But Yourself

    Two holes have been bored in a heavy door to allow a strong chain to pass through and be secured with a padlock. You can see where the chain has eaten away the wood which could have been caused by wind, heavy use, or something else entirely. Exactly what has caused the wear we can not know for sure. And we have to wonder, is the chain and lock to keep something out or something in? Either way there is no one to blame but yourself.

  • Resurrection

    A solitary, weathered and twisted tree stretches from the bottom all the way to the top of the painting. The rough bark is realistically rendered at the bottom but about halfway up the tree begins to take on a wispy, ethereal shape. The clouds in the background are threatening, but it is not clear if the storm is coming or has past. In the middle of the mesquite tree is a bright green shoot indicating that there is hope.

  • Result of the Sacrifice

    Someone spent a great deal of time, effort and money to build this home. It has now collapsed, apparently from the impact of a fallen tree, but judging by the weathered wood it was already well on its way. Judging by the frost on the barren tree limbs there is a chill in the air. In a few years there will be nothing left. Who would have guessed this would be the result of the sacrifice.

  • An Occasional Salughter

    This painting is dominated by two large windows which reveal a very dark interior, obscuring everything inside. However, you can see that there are bones piled along the interior edge of the window. The building and window frames are very weathered yet the window glass is clean, which is strange. Something else that does not seem to fit are the rich red drapes hung in the window. Since red fades quickly you would expect them to be bleached and faded like the rest of the building. It just does not make sense.

  • Washed Out and Laid Bare

    Deep in the woods I came across a gully that I am sure would have been overlooked by most travelers. Swift moving waters have washed away the dirt from the roots, laying bare the foundation that supports what is unseen above. Because of the darkness it is difficult to see much, but some light has broken through allowing us a glimpse of the damage; the roots have been washed out and laid bare.

  • An Occasional Salughter

    Paint falling from very weathered siding takes up most of the painting, but we also see the bottom of a window whose glass was lost, or maybe even removed long ago. A heavy screen was installed to keep something in or maybe even out, but the screen has been penetrated by something. Whatever did the damage did not get away without consequence as evidenced by traces of blood. But that is the consequence of decay.

  • Which Way

    In a lifeless woods an outhouse rots away under a gray, sunless sky. There are skulls and bones littering the entrance of the structure. The red door of the outhouse is partially open, or it could be partially closed. In front a rusted sign nailed to a post reads “One Way”. The arrow on the sign is covered with vines so it is impossible to know if the arrow points to the door or the way of escape.

  • High Noon

    You would think that the cattle chute in front of this one room schoolhouse was a mere invention to make a point - but it was not. The painting is faithful to a photograph I made in 1982 in western rural Iowa, near Hamburg. Not much was needed to complete the allegory except the addition of a threatening sky and steam punk elements. The time on the clock tells the story: it has stopped just before high noon.

  • Sooner Than You Know

    This barn was built to last and once was a storehouse of food, but it has been empty for many, many years. Now that the protective paint has fallen away the wood has begun to rot. The barren limbs of the trees are covered with frost and the sky holds no promise for a change. If you look close you will see skulls and bones tucked away between the boards. It will come sooner than you know.

  • Obstruction of the Light

    Looking at the painting we see the side of a house covered in vines. A few traces of green leaves emerge from the vines and are visible, but not many. A large window in the center has a screen that has been torn and some of the window glass is broken. The window frame has begun to deteriorate. The vines seem to be clustered around the window and are already blocking much of the light. If something is not done soon, they will obstruct all of the light.

  • Fallen and Decayed

    On the surface this painting may appear to be nothing more than a meticulously rendered fallen log next to the foundation of a home that is beginning to crumble. Vines are creeping up the side of the house and the lack of highlights and shadows suggest a dull and cloudy sky, probably high noon. Since my paintings are not meant to be nostalgic or illustrative, there is something more here than meets the eye. It is up to you to determine what is fallen and decayed.

Corporate By-product Series

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