I can’t speak enough to the importance of representation. As an artist, creating the style of work I do it is part of my mission to capture on canvas faces and personalities that are often ignored. Everyone has a story. When a child explores the galleries of a museum they should see themselves somewhere on a wall along their art adventure. Art isn’t all naked Reubenesque fair-skinned women frocking through the woods.
Often the faces that catch my eye when I’m out and about are the ones in the sidelines; the man sitting on the pavement with a puppy asking for change or the person in mismatched clothes staring into a storefront having a quiet conversation with the window display. They too are part of the pulse of our city.
On my way to an appointment a while back I saw a flash of Teal and the word AIR to my right while driving up Central Avenue. I slowed a bit and immediately thought I NEED TO PAINT THIS WOMAN! When I was done, just a block or two up the street, I drove back thinking “Please be there. Please be there.” I pulled up to the tiny gas station and rolled down my window.
“Hi, my name is John. I’m an artist and I need to paint you.” I said. “Do you mind if I take your picture?”
“You want MY picture? ME?” she replied with a flush to the face and giggle. “Tell you what, I’m Shirley. Shirley Ann. How about a late birthday present? My birthday was December 2nd.”
“Happy birthday, Miss Shirley Ann. I have a few bucks in my wallet.”
“5 dollars.” she negotiated. “Can I get 5 dollars to get me a sandwich?”
I gladly obliged.
To this day, painting Ms. Shirley Ann has been one of my greatest honors as an artist.