In the Hour Before



This body of work began with a simple concept. If I were to use Google Earth to travel to France and see, through its eyes, the places where Vincent Van Gogh painted, what would I see? The first place that I dropped into was a strikingly ordinary back alley in Arles, with cinder-block constructed homes and a trash strewn lot. I made a painting.

That same week in November 2015 we were all stunned by the news of the multiple attacks in Paris. A café, a nightclub, a stadium…ordinary places targeted as symbols in a larger narrative, and having only recently returned from Paris with my family I was compelled to use the technology of Google Earth to visit those places too. As I found when “visiting” Arles, what I saw was striking in its ordinariness, and that uneventful, ordinary, calm quality was made all the more pathetic by the knowledge of the tragic events of the day overlaid upon it.

This got me thinking about the frequency with which the ordinary lives of so many people are shattered by the unpredictability of such violence in a society out of balance and with guns readily to hand. I was stunned by how easily recent shootings in this country came to mind, and while not all are so overtly political in nature they are no less devastating when they decimate ordinary people in the ordinary hours of the day. Columbine, Sandy Hook and Aurora are forever associated with unspeakable acts of violence, and yet each place has known the ordinariness of days on end. Will they ever know that again? Is it possible?

These paintings are eventful only as paintings; colors, shapes, drips, textures, images. Yet each is made in full knowledge of the extraordinariness they represent. The lives forever lost and the lives forever changed. While they do not illustrate, they are intended to illuminate.