Friday, October 25, 2013

Incidental Art and Wine

I wouldn't have thought discovering your talent would be accidental.

But at Gallery A for D. Jack Solomon's discussion of his show "Incidental Dramas for the 21st Century," that's just one of the many things we heard about from the 80-year old painter.

It took me forever to go the mile to the gallery because of building construction, road work and closed streets, but it was worth it when I finally got there.

Jack immediately came over to say nice things about the interview I'd done with him for Style Weekly.

The talk had been originally planned to be held at VCU so all those struggling young painters would come hear from someone who's been making a living with a paintbrush for decades.

But logistics prevailed and it just made more sense to have the talk at the gallery where Jack could move around and use his paintings as part of the talk.

A lot of Richmond's old art community were representing. Janet and Rudy from the recently-closed Main Art (and stressed about the sale of that building), sculptor Myron (who had been Jack's best man back in the '70s and warned Jack before the talk, "This better be entertaining!"), and more painters than you could shake a stick at.

As the first official cold night of the Fall, I'd broken out some new tights and got compliments galore on them (sometimes offhanded, like the women who praised the tights and then said, "Great tights but then you have great legs so of course they look good" Um, thanks?), including a filmmaker who sidled up as we were moving from one painting to another and said sotto voice, 'Amazing tights, by the way."

After everyone had glasses of bubbly in hand, Jack began with the largest work in the show, one in his "Funny Papers" series using old comic images from the mid-40s as the collage basis for the painting.

I already knew a fair amount about his process from our hour and a half long interview, but there was also much new to be gleaned, like how he always makes black from complementary colors.

Color cancels color, a fact I'd forgotten from a long-ago college art history class.

As a result, his blacks are just the blackest and if you're not sure what I mean, you need to go to Gallery A and see for yourself.

He talked about how he had not been an artistic kid, how he'd been an athletic kid always playing sports.

Then in high school, he'd been failing science and his coach got worried if he did, he'd be kicked off the team, so he intervened.

Jack was taken out of science class and put in an introduction to art class, where a series of drawing exercises proved effortless for him and impressive to his teacher.

The series began with drawing a glass and more things were added in each exercise until at the end, there was a brush moving in the glass.

Jack nailed that sense of motion and got an "A" in the class and suddenly, a painter was born.

Yet another example of how random life can be. What if he hadn't been failing science? What if he hadn't had a watchful coach? What if, what if?

As Jack moved around the gallery talking about his process, his way of thinking about the picture plane ("The field is more important than the objects"), he even gave me a shout out for the article.

It was very sweet.

Even without acknowledgement, it was a treat to hear someone enthuse about their life's work as happily as if he were just starting out.

Afterwards, I mingled and met several new people, including one woman who'd been working in video production and was about to retire.

Jack introduced us and when she found out I was a freelance writer, said that was her intention after retiring and asked for advice.

Sure, get used to living at poverty level, but having your life completely how you want it.

"Right, like you could work in your pajamas until noon if you wanted to!" she gushed.

Sure, if I wore pajamas and if I somehow got back from my walk before noon (tough because I'm rarely up that early), I could do that.

Or I could just stay up until 3 a.m. drinking wine and talking about life, love and embracing the lazy and not worry about pre-noon at all.

I accidentally found out a few years ago that that's where my real talent lies.


  1. your last line nailed it & gave me a chuckle.


  2. I know, right? Funny because it's true!