This year I was invited back to charming Grant’s Pass, Oregon to participate in the 6th annual Art Along the Rogue Street Painting Festival. I had last participated in 2006 and was looking forward to seeing my Oregonian friends for another weekend of great art and great music. This festival is spearheaded by Jeff Jones, a musician and art lover, along with the community of Grant’s Pass; they always do a great job at making us ‘out of towners’ feel welcome.
This year the festival had a theme – classical reproductions. Renaissance, Baroque, Pre-Raphaelite, Neo-Classical, Impressionism – anything by a great master. Jeff asked me if I could participate in the theme with my piece so I decided on an original 3D anamorphic piece based on a classical figure from a painting by Guido Reni.
I decided to create a painting around Persephone and Hades, specifically the moment when Hades opens the ground beneath Persephone while she is enjoying daffodils. Hades is scheming with Zeus to make Persephone his own, and with Zeus’s help, kidnaps her as she falls through the opening earth. Persephone later becomes Hades wife, with the consequence being the fall and winter season, the death of the world above, as Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter to the underworld for half of the year. What a fitting subject matter for Oregon in October – fall is upon us and this was my way to honor that – in the classical style.
Although I usually prefer to work from live models for my compositions, I chose the figure of Dejanira from the painting ‘Nessus and Dejanira’ by Guido Reni; I thought she would make a great Persephone. It took me 2 days to create this painting, sized about 2.5 meters x 6 meters, and it was a lot of fun!
We did have rain this year, fortunately me and the other 2 featured artists (Rod Tryon and Cathy Gallatin, two wonderful people and extremely talented street painters) were under a canopy. I felt bad for the local artists – they basically got washed out on Saturday night, even with Easy Ups and plastic. Some artists managed to save their drawings, but in the end, Sunday was a beautiful day and everyone came back to complete or rework their images. For many this was their first experience with uncooperative weather, which was a test of patience, to be sure. I always hope to remind people that street painting is a performance based art form, and the ephemeral nature of it allows us to develop flexible and less rigid attitudes about what we do in life. It’s a great exercise in understanding acceptance and a ‘go with the flow’ nature. I can speak from experience, having been rained on many times in the past!
I love this distorted view of my painting – it takes on another life seen from this angle.
Congrats to all of the Art Along the Rogue artists for coming out and sharing your gifts with the public – rain or shine! Thanks to Jeff Jones and the entire organizing committee from Grant’s Pass – incredible music again this year, as usual. I guess I will just have to dream about Dutch Bros. coffee ’til next year!