The photograph of HWY 18, a South Dakota two-lane hasn’t let me go yet. My apologies if you’ve had enough. Actually, not really. I write and create art for me and my hope is that something I write maybe resonates for you too. If not, well, that’s OK.
I created this series while thinking that the imagery of the road is both going AWAY from somewhere and TOWARD someplace else. For the early part of my life the road represented away from someplace and now it’s shifting. This image is my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota.
When I started working on these images I was trying to tell a lot of different stories. Why kids leave small towns. Why they should go back (I’ll still write about that). Why I left South Dakota. Why, at fifty-years-old, I would now consider going back to South Dakota. How small towns or wherever our upbringing was shaped us as adults. I’ve created so many images all telling different stories. I had to narrow my message. So, I decided to get more personal and less about rural development.
I’ve lived in Vermont since New Year’s Day 1990. I moved to Burlington with a friend, Melissa from my Sioux Falls College days. Three weeks later I met my husband, Jeff. Now, almost twenty-seven years later I’m deeply rooted here in New England. I never expected to be here this long. If had put a limit on my time in Vermont, well, it wouldn’t have worked. I was in love and adaptable. Isn’t life wonderfully unpredictable?
I’m longing for spaciousness, freedom and simplicity. I crave all of this more now in middle age. As the poet e. e. cummings wrote, “it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”. I had to allow myself to get quiet enough to listen to my inner voice. As a younger partner, mother and artist, I wasn’t such a good listener. I’m grateful the prairie won’t let me go now, she clearly has a lot to say lately and I’m listening.
This image is the backyard of my home in Burlington, Vermont. We’ve lived in this house since August 1991. It holds many memories and has been through numerous renovations. I love the house, but I’m restless. I desire some change.
This piece is layered with one of my paintings. My need for change isn’t always easy on my family. I’m trying to be more understanding about how they feel. They are trying to do the same. Inevitably though, things will change and we will all adapt just fine. I know that my work is to keep listening and trying to understand what messages I’m receiving.
Maddy Brookes’ idea to fund a trip to Europe next summer by selling her paintings to study art and culture and lend even more depth to her work is absolutely brilliant. Maddy is a junior at The Rhode Island School of Design. She’s a remarkably prolific painter and also happens to be the lovely girlfriend of my son, Ellis Govoni a student at Landmark College in Vermont.
Think about the art market right now. It’s nuts. A small investment in a young painter could be very valuable one day. Jeff and I made a small investment in the early 1990s in the artist—Ethan Murrow. It was a really good investment, even if it was a stretch for us at the time.
Here’s the link and a chance to acquire a Maddy Brookes original painting: https://www.gofundme.com/vz5sr2rd
See more work of Maddy’s at: https://maddybrookesart.squarespace.com/
I’m very inspired by the boldness of Maddy doing this and I have to tell you why.
As an artist myself, the idea that I have “a product” is very challenging…the work is personal and makes you vulnerable to criticism. If I sold furniture, cars, sweaters, lawn mowers or cut your hair no one would think twice about me promoting myself and being very upfront about the price of that item. I’m going to challenge myself to put a few pieces up with the price tags and see what happens. Thank you, Maddy.
Even when perspective buyers visit my studio I treat them like they’re visiting a museum. That’s crazy. I have a product. Actually a very large inventory of products and I basically don’t ever let anyone even know that they’re for sale.
However, with art there seems to be a different relationship. Stay with me a moment. If a 20-year-old college student told you that they were working to save money for a trip or to buy a car or further their education everyone would praise that effort. However, with art there’s a perceived arrogance and it isn’t remotely fair.
Maddy has an AMAZING PRODUCT and she’s selling them to fund her desire to travel and further her education as an artist. I hope you’ll check out Maddy’s work and even if you’re unable to purchase a painting, please send a note of encouragement or forward the link. You have no idea what an e-mail saying, “I like your work” can mean to an artist.