BLOB #13 – “BOSTON COFFEE PARTY”
In 1773 the BOSTON TEA PARTY not only was a revolt by the colonialist against taxation by England and King George III, but It was also a revolt against tea itself and generated a mass switch from tea to coffee.
“THE BOSTON COFFEE PARTY”
The 1st painting to be completed by us, Karen and I, in 2019 is titled “THE BOSTON COFFEE PARTY”. Because of our preoccupation in creating large scale outdoor sculptures and big art-in-public-places installations, these days a painting takes a very long time to complete. This is in spite of continually transversing the “RABBIT HOLE” – the part of our studio where we paint. This painting was initiated a year ago in early April 2018. It is the 1st painting in decades which I have executed without having Karen painting along side of me – No! No! No! She hasn’t left me – Thank God!
Since starting to create her “AmuseBouche,” “PLAYTIME” and “RADIOACTIVITY” staged-performance-video-art self-portraits three years ago, she has become more and more immersed in her unique creative process. She creates the sets, costumes, stills, video photography, lighting, special effects, editing, sound effects, and musical scoring; all done to a level of manic obsession. She has even tricked-out a special 360 degree all black photo/video room with black floor and wrap-around floor to ceiling blackout hospital track curtains + mirrors + 10ft.rolls of seamless. So now, along with the Studio: the Atelier: the Rabbit Hole: the Courtyard: the 50 and 75 cents tour: the Yellow Brick Road – we now have the Black Hole.
Karen’s opinions on this painting have frequently been offered; even more frequently requested. Although she did deliver a brookah-or-two on occasion, she did not have a physical hand in the painting process. So, using a color palette, practices and techniques Karen and I had developed together over the years, I was pretty much on my own to apply paint to canvas or as the artist-turned-film-maker Julian Schnabel put it “push paint”.
The painting is 5ft W X 4ft H. It is a diptych comprised of two irregular four-sided stretched canvases joined together to form a somewhat erratic pentagonal shape. Being sculptors, we find non-rectilinear forms more interesting and more expressive. The shape of the canvas can be an integral tool in the visual experience of viewing the painting. We use the shape of the painting to not only heighten the painting’s visual excitement but to move the viewer’s gaze around the painting and underscore the painting’s composition.
At the point when I start putting oil paints on the canvas, I utilize basic Euclidean geometrics to divide and conquer the flat surface. I lay down brightly colored planes and patterns in front and behind one another to create depth and directional movement which chauffeurs the viewer on their compositional journey.
In our sculpture, we use only nine weather and time tested colors. However, that is two more colors that are in a rainbow and three more than in the basic Star of David color wheel. The “oils” are generally straight from the tube and uncut. With only six basic colors in the world, selecting colors to apply to the canvas can be a frustrating exercise in the deduction. So, I rely on color posturing techniques to increase or reduce, but mostly increase, the volume of a color. I frequently place “complementary” colors up against each other and let them do their magic.
The idea for the subject of this painting came when I was looking at a U.S. postal stamp commemorating the Boston Tea Party. The USPS had used an early American artist’s etching which depicted a riotous scene of Indians attacking English ships in Boston Harbor. The etching clearly and dramatically showed dark silhouetted feather adorned masculine figures dumping the precious cargo of tea from ships into Massachusetts Bay. I then sought out 18th-century artwork along with more information on this historic event. I searched for visual records, which at the time was the responsibility of artists and engravers. I was intrigued by how the colonials dressed in Native American Indian disguises to avoid detection from the British.
With my mind on fast-forward, I thought about how today people who had skin-in-the-game and who were looking to secure “their fair share of the future”, were applying revisionist history and political correctness to early American occurrences – and how time changes everything. How Indians are now referred to as Native Americans. How English tea lost it’s global dominance to America’s beverage of choice – coffee. How the once popular colonial American coffee house culture was changed forever. How the Boston Tea Party kindled political protest and demonstration into America’s DNA. How Turkish-coffee-became-Italian-coffee-became-American-coffee. How faux Italian American coffee shops have invaded almost every country on earth. How the wealth derived from coffee has even fueled the political ambitions of some coffee company executives.
I changed my original working title for the painting from “The Boston Tea Party” to “The Boston Coffee Party” just to be cute. It wasn’t until I was well immersed in the painting and about halfway to completion that I switched titles. However, it wasn’t until the painting was completed did I become aware of how America transitioned from tea to coffee and realize how coffee has always been an integral part of our history. For me, so much of life’s interaction is bashert!
I was cleaning out a file folder I kept on my recently completed oil painting titled “The Boston Coffee Party”. The painting was finished and I had even written an essay about the painting and the process. (The BLOB #13 above) While purging the folder of the unnecessary, and retaining only the notes, thumbnails and working drawings which were relevant, I came across a spent envelope Patty Newman had used to send Karen and I a “thank you” card for supporting Digicom, a non-profit which she strongly supports. One of the stamps on the envelope was a Boston Tea Party commemorative. Well! This postage stamp inspired me to stretch and join two anti-rectilinear canvases and take the first steps on a yearlong journey which would result in realizing this artwork.