Twenty Twenty, That's Aplenty
Updated: Feb 10
2020! Wow, what a year! We should have seen it coming! I mean, Mogan David named a toxic substance 20-20. The once "popular" fortified wine, more casually known as Mad Dog, was created for those who just don’t have time for pinot noir to kick in! For certain of us, of a certain age, (but happily, not me), Mad Dog was often part of a good time, before it was, but a couple hours later, part of somebody’s couch upholstery. I don’t know if Mad Dog 20-20 still graces the cellars of America’s great sommeliers, but the year 2020 is indeed gone, as Mad Dog probably should be.
But 20-20 is also associated with excellent vision, and with somewhere north of 150,000,000 Americans keenly focused on the 2020 election, we have seen fit to elect a new president. Whether this selection is considered a moment of clarity, or an act more befitting of a Mad Dog event, is a matter of opinion, I suppose. Either way, we move on, on to 2021, and I’m fine with that. I’ve had quite enough of 2020. The spiked wine, the year, and, whether I like it or not, the perfect vision. I lost that to a grinding spark in 1989.
But 2020 was a year to remember. At times it seemed that we, as a nation, were bordering on Mad Dog-rabid. In our home we don’t have, nor have we ever had network TV, but turn on the radio, and even without a picture, it was a constant frothing at the mouth and bulging red eyes. Every day, a new thing to shield one’s self from. Never enough personal protective equipment. Another searing image of a country on the edge of a deep and cruel precipice. Would it be three somersaults and a splat, or a magnificent swan dive?…..Or would we just teeter there, like a leaf stuck beneath the windshield wiper blade, distracting our attention, but never really causing a wreck?
I don’t know how we are doing, as a nation. Sometimes I fear we are about to throw up on the great couch of history. A big purple stain will be all that is left of our red — blue nation. Other times, I feel like we need to reach a certain level of discontent, or disease, or despair, to find the courage to clean up our act. Maybe we need to hit bottom. Get a few scabs on our backsides. I hope not. But here we are. It is a new year, and it doesn’t feel too late to gather up the pieces of our amazing and intricately beautiful experiment of a self-governing people that we call America. There is more good than bad, and despite how it looks, there is more agreement than disagreement.
As an artist, as opposed to a politician, I guess my job is not to fix political things, but I still feel like I have a responsibility to put forward hopeful ideas, and uplifting imagery. It is for artists to create a space for seeing what is possible: A few well-formed lines, or a quieting figure of optimism or strength, or of beauty, a language not of words, or at least not of harmful words, where a sense of well-being can take hold. We all have some tools to work with, and we have our platform, however large or small. Our way forward is forward. We don’t get to go back. But we can look back, and we can reach back as we go forward, and bring with us those things that we know we will always cherish.
It isn’t that art is not allowed to be challenging to one's comfort zone. Much of history's most dynamic art is born of conflict and strife. Some of my own works that I often think of as my best works have elements of pain and suffering. But this seems like a time to emphasize more on images of healing, and I think that will be my focus for 2021.