It's All One Song

 Horse, 18 x 23 in, oil and gold leaf on panel.

Horse, 18 x 23 in, oil and gold leaf on panel.

You have to choose.

I’ve been told that since I was a kid. You have to choose, you can’t do everything.

Yeah, so, maybe. Time catches all of us. I’m not going to get to learn to fly bush planes. I’m on the edge about surfing- a knee replacement makes the hop-up impossible, but I’m still thinking about going the route of a standup paddleboard. I don’t really have time to be a sculptor. Well, that’s still a maybe, too. But I have faced the reality of life, the demands of making a living have required some choosing.

As an artist, however, I still want to push. My brother, Chris, gave me a Neil Young CD a few years ago. It’s a live recording, from the late 90’s, and as Mr Young is just starting up, a few big chords rumble out and some guy yells, It all sounds the same! Without skipping a beat, Neil yells back, It’s all one song.

I listened to that disc, oh hell, I don’t know how many times. But I heard it when I was ready. Ongoing art conversations (arguments?), with my son Todd, and visits with my friend Troy Mathews, as well as exposure and conversation with several other students I’ve met through Darby’s job at PNCA, have me questioning myself. My unconscious, self-limiting rules on art, or at least my art. What is art? What can be art? Why do I have these rules, and where did they come from.

I’ve long been a fan of Gerhard Richter, but only recently realized there is a treasure trove of interviews and videos with and about him on the interwebs. (In my lame defense, I’m 58, and have managed to somehow avoid nearly every opportunity to be educated on technology. I stumble along at my own pace, rather like exploring a black hole.) But back to Richter. He was a very accomplished and successful photorealist, when his mind pulled him into abstraction. In one video, an interviewer (who comes across to me as a little snotty), asks him why, that his new work could be wrapping paper. He quietly smiles at her, and says something along the lines of, To make something beautiful. Something beyond myself.

And it occurred to me, Yeah, why not? Why do I have my self imposed restrictions? Where are they from? I have some ideas, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting- the getting rid of them, past them, is the interesting part.

There will be a couple new gallery pages added to my website soon. I’m a slow study, especially when it comes to my own evolution. But that’s the part I like. Thinking, struggling. Well, like might be a little strong. Drawn to. Learning and expanding. When I get good at something, I often lose interest. And I don’t want to abandon the work I’ve been doing- the barn paintings and landscapes, in fact the landscapes will be growing too. The couple new directions will inform those bodies of work, much as they have spawned the new work.

So yes, I’ve had to choose, to specialize. But not too much. It’s all my song.

Richard Harrington

Artist living in Oregon.