Perils of the Pilgrim (2021)
Διαστάσεις του έργου μόνο, χωρίς πλαίσιο: 10x8 in
Because of American history, most Americans think of "Pilgrims" as one of the early immigrant groups that pioneered Anglo-European settlement. In European history, they were a centuries long Medieval tradition of spiritual renewal and penance that became a corrupted industry of exploitive merchants and free-loading "mendicants." Many regions and cultures have their own pilgrimage traditions, some on-going and individual, some seasonal and massive in numbers. The Islamic annual and individual pilgrimages to Mecca are the most famous of these today.
In the 19th Century in Europe, the third most popular book in publication was, 'A Pilgrim's Progress" and this image is more in keeping with that view. The "perils" of the pilgrimage may be physical threats, but the dangers and challenges in the spiritual quest the pilgrimage entails are more to the heart of the experience. So it is not lions, snakes and wolves that imperil the pilgrim, but distractions, loss of determination and temptations to do wrong.
Metaphorically, each of us is a pilgrim, on a journey through life. And in the medieval tradition, it is less important that we reach our physical goal than how we conduct ourselves in the process. In the pilgrimage of life, many fall along the way, or discover that their true goal was not the one they set out to achieve.
My interest in art began at age 4 when I decided to draw something real rather than just work from my imagination. As a youngster I excelled at drawing and took up oils in my teens. But I faced relentless discouragement from art schools and experts. They told me I could try commercial art, but didn't have what it takes to be a real artist. In college I took art and art history and learned that real art had nothing to do with how well you can draw or paint, it's whether you look like you are trying to "push the envelope and expand or contract visual experience. I was also studying philosophy, psychology and history and soon realized that this was just another art establishment trying to defend its elitist industry and rewards system, their "concepts" were adolescent. Their skills were nearly non-existent, they knew nothing about psychology and perception or response to stimuli, and they were extensions of belief system that made communism, fascism and other forms of totalitarianism such destructive forces in the world. They literally think that art should not be accessible to ordinary human beings, only to an elevated elite "sophisticated" enough to understand it. I realized that the emperors of art had no clothes, but they were still the emperors. I'm good at art. I've worked hard to gain that skill. And most people seem to like what I make. So I found other ways to make a living and occasionally sold something. Over sixty years many people have enjoyed and some even collected my work. When I couldn't sell it, I often just gave it away.
Then I retired. Now I have time and money and before my drawing and painting days are done, I thought I'd make one more effort to see if there is an audience out there that likes what I do enough to pay for it. Even if I sold every picture I have for the prices I'm asking, "artist" will be the lowest paying job I've ever had ... but that's how it goes. It won't matter anything to me after I'm dead. I just hope a few people will like some of what I did enough to enjoy it in the future.