Friday, June 13, 2014

Ennyman's Dylan (Revisited)

What follows here is a recycled post from 2008 about a painting I'd done and the add-on window I created to enhance it, which became a painting in and of itself.

It boils down to this. I had painted an image of Dylan last month which impressed me and got a good reaction from friends. While mulling over a follow up, the idea of painting a new background came to mind. The curious thing about it is that the new background was actually a foreground.

One of the windows on our house is being replaced. The windows which had been removed needed to be discarded. I decided to place one of these window panes in front of the Dylan portrait I’d done and created a new background… on the glass in the foreground. It seemed the perfect reflection of Dylan’s multidimensional ambiguity, reversing foregrounds and backgrounds to provide a new way of looking at reality.

This past Friday evening I created the window background. On Saturday, I took pictures of the new image. Like many artists, I frequently photograph my work in the early morning sunlight, which gives a richer vibrancy to the colors.

Initially I set up my easel with the original Dylan behind the windowed background. But other varieties of Dylan soon began to emerge. First the window on the lawn, with the original on the easel. Then the background by itself, with Dylan as a lawn silhouette. (You can click on images to view larger.)

This variation reminded me of some of my early art experiments (around age 6) in which I did drawings, then cut out the eyes and looked at how the picture changes against different backgrounds. This evolved to posterized faces where I cut out the white part -- a cheek, portion of forehead, ridge of nose – and watched how the face changed when the paper was placed against a wall or carpet or other varieties of background.

Another photo here is a blend of my shadow and the Dylan image. I could call this “Dylan on My Mind” though a fixed title seems to escape me. Perhaps “Dylan, My Shadow and Eye” would be a suitable working title. I was trying to put the shadow of my mind on Dylan’s skull and get some kind of mind meld going. My head is so filled with forty years of Dylan lyrics that there are very few experiences that do not have a Dylan quote to go with it.

Finally, I took a photo of the Dylan background from behind and called it Another Side of Bob Dylan, a tribute to his fourth album. My Back Pages is one of my favorites songs from this collection. The lyrics, popularized later by The Byrds and re-collected on the Internet decades later, express some of the challenges and wonders we’ve all experienced.

Following these lyrics are two YouTube videos of Dylan performing the same song, first as recorded in 1964 for Dylan’s Another Side, and then a 1998 recording of Dylan live in Toronto. Enjoy!

MY BACK PAGES
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges, soon," said I
Proud 'neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"Rip down all hate," I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
"Equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

* * * *

What follows here is not recycled from 2008. The events listed here are happening this weekend, here and in Minneapolis.

The paintings here, and a number of my other paintings, are currently on Display at Goin' Postal on Tower Avenue in Superior. I had no idea at the time how many variations of Dylan I would paint since that time, but there are now more than 30 floating around, and some prints as well.

Just a reminder as we head into the weekend, there's a lot happening. Here in Duluth you can check out Carla Hamilton's Durch Wasser rennen at Washington Gallery, or grab a libation at Lake Avenue Cafe and check out Jeredt Runions' paintings. Across the bridge at The Red Mug you will find Erik Pearson's new paintings on display this month. And Sunday is a celebration of Enger Tower's 75th Anniversary (at Enger Park, of course.) Bert Enger himself would have been 150.

Down in Minneapolis there are events at the Weisman Museum (Anne Labovitz) and sophronia two at the Walker Art Center that you might like to explore as well. And for something completely different, visit the Even Break Gallery for Gonna Change My Way of Thinking. How cool is that?

Explore. That's a good word. Make sure you spend a little time this weekend exploring. It's a big world out there.  

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