My working title for this piece was "Wounds of Time"--a heaping pile of pretentious poop. That's how it is with me, a title pops into my head as I'm painting, and while it may adequately capture my idea, it's usually just bad. I almost always force myself to come up with two titles for this reason, as insurance against such bad ideas. Two very different backyards are pictured here: in one, the back-end of a house has been ripped off; in the other a nice little deck with furniture and toys in the yard can be seen. A lot of Vermont is just like this: the dilapidated and unused right next to the renovated and vital.
I must have driven by this place a hundred times on my way to more “scenic” fare, and every time it caught my eye. At some point I realized I had to paint it. Then, for a while, I tried to work up the courage to ask permission to paint on the property. Eventually that effort failed. There are two large spotlights trained on the approach to the stairs which give the unmistakable impression that visitors are neither expected nor wanted. That is a judgment I made with incomplete information; but I figure maybe sometimes in the interest of self-preservation it’s okay to judge a book by its cover. Despite the apparent differences in lifestyle between us, as I painted the scene I began to pick out things that spoke to a greater commonality: a Weber grill, a lawnmower, a workbench with some kind of woodworking project in progress, a failed attempt at a garden, pride in America. These are things many of us can relate to and I realized a growing appreciation of their daily pleasures, triumphs and no doubt struggles, as witnessed by the artifacts spread across their lawn.
Lincoln Vermont is a sleepy little town just up the road from where I painted Upper New Haven, in the Green Mountains. While the road continues on past the town and over the Lincoln Gap, that part of the road is closed in the winter. Although not technically situated at the end of the road (there are other four-season roads in and out of Lincoln) it certainly has the feel of a town at the end of the road. I could have named this piece “Tire in The Snow”, or perhaps “Tire and Propane Tank” because these are deliberately prominent elements in my painting. For all the nostalgia that could be evoked by a place like this--a sugaring shack and a barn positioned ever so keenly on the bend of a snowy stream in Vermont--I like to try to keep things contemporary. Propane is a common and efficient means of heating and you see a lot of these tanks all over the countryside, as well as used and discarded tires. The tires always make me laugh. I’ve painted a lot of farms and every single one of them has a pile of tires somewhere...why are there so many tires? I’m not a farmer and I don't live way out in the country but I like to speculate that I see so many tires because the land is rough and it wears out the tires of the people who try to wrestle something from it. I feel there is a nice (and perhaps deep) metaphor at work here, and the application of paint and texture is meant to reinforce that idea of roughness, but I am content just to include the tire and the propane tank and to paint like I paint, and let the viewer ruminate on what deeper meaning (if any) it could possibly have.