"The wind blows and the sales of baskets go up," is an old Japanese saying meaning that some cause and effects are not always direct or visible. Bob Dylan wrote, "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind." I've always had a penchant for secret histories, micro histories, and generally the way things work. At times, the challenge for artists is to find a specific subject or theme. Its always nice when someone approaches you and starts a conversation about a subject that jives with your line of thinking, as happened with the invitation to "The Child Ballads" show curated by Teddy Johnson at the G-Spot Gallery in Baltimore. I had a chance to visit the location a couple of weeks ago and was impressed with the space and am looking forward to the event on the 11th of September. There is a great collection of painters that are exhibiting and musicians to perform the songs as well, included in both categories is Grammy award winner Art Rosenbaum. Art has been an inspiration, for many of us in the exhibition, to delve into the history of American music as well as learn and perform it.
Out of the 305 songs in the Child collection I've chosen to create a piece of work based on number 278: The Farmer's Curst Wife. A very brief accounting of the song is that a farmer had a bad wife so the devil came and took her away, when they reached Hell she made things so bad for the devil he took her back to the farmer. The variations of the songs have different conclusions, that either women are so far worse than men that they get kicked out of hell, or that women are stronger than men as they can beat up on the devil. Now that sounds like a fun piece to paint! How does this all draw back to secret histories, micro histories, and all that jazz? The influence of this song, after centuries of swirling around the Appalachian Mountains, previously having crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, landed in the 1960's. Folk music was being expounded by various reviver cliques, but I believe a mainline influence ran into the exploitation films, which ran into Quentin Tarentino and influenced his film depictions of women as both strong, able to take down the modern equivalent of the devil, and at times be worse than the devil. My methods are a bit Microftian in their research but the winds of creation are blowing.
As a side project I have been working with "children's" printmaking techniques in conjunction with the yuzen stenciling technique I learned while in Japan. I wanted to work with a printing process that was as immediate as possible with as little set up as possible because space is always an issue. The pieces that I've made I will post in conjunction with the first 4-5 Child Ballad blogs. Like the women represented by archetypes in art the Noh mask only has to have light shined on it from different angles to express a variety of perceived expressions or traits. With the Noh mask the lighting doesn't even have to change only your position to it. It makes me wonder about the Theory of Relativity and how sometimes the answer really is too close to find. Isn't that the Hollywood love story? You can find these inexpensive prints for sale HERE at my etsy shop.