Friday, September 14, 2012

Atlanta: Part 2

You can read the Part 1 of my art trip to Atlanta, about Richard Misrach's photos, here.

On this day I was attempting to go see a performance piece at a MARTA stop by some cutting edge group. It was billed as a series of interventions in the city. It was also across town at rush hour in a place I'd never been. Laziness and fear of the new conspired against me and I was forced to go thrift store shopping instead, where I unexpectedly found Jesus:

"Inspiration," by Theodore Davis. [Image: a somewhat primitive watercolor painting of Jesus' head and shoulders on brown butcher paper or cardboard, framed in a thin plain gold frame. Jesus' chest is centered with his face nearly in three quarters profile looking up and to the right side of the painting. A stylized ray of yellow and white band of light descends from the top right corner to Jesus' face and a tiny lightning bolt runs from the light to his left shoulder. He has a yellow halo with tiny spiked sun rays around the edge, flat like early Renaissance halos. His robe is white with purple shadows for the drapery; his skin is left blank and his features are small and delicately drawn in pencil, almost like a woman in an ancient Asian ink painting. His hair and beard are dark graphic masses of squiggling black lines and dark brown paint. Except the face, drapery shadows and halo, everything is outlined in black. A water stain covers the bottom left two corner extending over his chest and shoulder, visible as a gradient to a dark organic outline that resembles faraway mountains in an old Chinese ink painting. The word "Inspiration" is written with pencil in jerky cursive over the white robe at the bottom left, and "Theo Davis" is written at a steep diagonal upward slope at the right edge above Jesus' shoulder next to the lightning bolt. The whole thing resembles traditional European Jesus paintings in certain ways, but is also primitively executed in others, creating an akwardness that words with the odd composition to be extremely engaging and elegant.]

It didn't even occur to me that I should stop and give it a closer look until I realized I'd already been staring at it for a full five minutes, and it didn't occur to me to buy it until I found myself removing the piece from the wall and thinking, "well if I regret the purchase I can always re-use the frame...." I flipped it over to reveal a cardboard tag written in ballpoint pen taped to the back reading,

"Name of project-- Inspiration
Medium-- Water colors and pastels
Name-- Theodore Davis-- Grade 12X
Frink High School"

and the price: $6.99

It is now hanging in my kitchen. I didn't think I'd ever have a picture of Jesus in my home, but I guess I didn't anticipate encountering this Jesus.

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