Double Rainbow All the Way

9 Sep

“What does it mean?”

I woke up on the morning of September 7, 2010 with the double rainbow guy on my mind. So, I made a goofy painting in honor of Paul “Hungry Bear” Vasquez.

Double Rainbow All the Way, 2010, gouache on paper, 29.5 x 21 cm.

Fans of the “double rainbow guy” will be pleased to learn that he has just been paid to make a commercial for Microsoft Windows. If you live in a cave and somehow missed this youtube video sensation, please enjoy:

Full disclosure: I adore quirky landscape paintings.

My painting reeks of Charles Burchfield. I was introduced to Burchfield two summers ago at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York. The museum on the campus of Buffalo State College has many paintings by Burchfield, who lived and worked in the area. (Random fact: Artist Cindy Sherman went to college at Buffalo State.)

I’ve been looking at Burchfield all summer, reading reviews of his show that traveled from UCLA’s Hammer Museum to the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City. While Burchfield was well-respected in his lifetime, he has curiously fallen out of fashion today. To rekindle acclaim for Burchfield was undoubtedly part of Robert Gober’s motivation for curating the show, entitled “Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield.”

I like Burchfield because his cryptic paintings are often awkwardly graphic. There is evidence of his success as a wallpaper designer in works like Sun and Rocks, below.

Sun and Rocks, 1953, Watercolor and gouache on paper, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
[Photo credit: Hammer.Ucla.Edu]

Many other artists come to mind when I look at Burchfield: van Gogh, William Blake, or Caspar David Friedrich. Though there are apparent references to European artists, his sense of invention both in a technical and stylistic sense give the work an American flavor. His technique was innovative; he used a dry brush with these watercolors to achieve that scratchy sense of immediacy. Most of all, Burchfield’s paintings read like transcendental illustrations of his admiration for the American writer, Henry David Thoreau.

Landscape painting is decidedly American. The same nation that invented the idea of a  national park naturally endeavored to preserve its landscape in the arts as well. I posit that although romantic, landscape paintings may seem unfashionable, at least in the current academic milieu, a small renaissance is taking place. Recent works by Inka Essenhigh and Hernan Bas, for example, are exploring the great outdoors again. Maybe there is more behind the viral video of the double rainbow, after all. Maybe Americans are getting back in touch with their roots, pardon the pun.

In closing, a quote from Paul Vasquez, “Whoa, that’s so intense.”

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2 Responses to “Double Rainbow All the Way”

  1. Nichole September 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Hey ! I love your double rainbow. It’s really beautiful, especially with the black woodsy border and the thin strands of rainbowness. Also love your thoughts on Americans and landscape and why landscape might be making a comeback. It does seem that now, when it’s mainstream to be thinking about eco ways of living, that people would want to turn back to landscape and rethink what landscapes might mean to today’s world. It is also fascinating to think that landscape is an inherently American form, with strong roots to transcendentalism. We borrowed so much for Europe that it’s cool to have something distinctly American.

    On another note, the double rainbow dude kind of reminds me of Timothy Treadwell, which is a little creepy. And, for the record, that was the first time I saw that video, although I do not live in a cave. (Full disclosure: I had heard about the double rainbow dude’s Microsoft contract on NPR just the other day).

    • hellosinki September 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

      Thanks, Nikki. As always, your comments are appreciated! The world sorely misses Timothy Treadwell. And by the way, I am going to try to eat bear this weekend in Estonia.

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