On November 11, 2013 I created this painting entitled: “Earl” as part of a series of paintings entitled “Hudson Warren Street” illustrating everyday life in Hudson, of which Earl certainly was a part. Described as Hudson New York’s “Outsider Artist” Earl Swanigan is often seen transporting his latest creations on a furniture dolly. As an artist, I felt my visual portrayal of life in the city would not be complete without him.
The use of one of his paintings in this work, rather than an appropriation of his work merely for the sake of profit, simply served as identification of him as the subject and detailed a stage in the career of the artist who created it. Also, his artwork comprised only a small percentage of my painting. For these reasons, I felt it could be considered fair use.I viewed it as sort of a tribute to the man that has managed to garner popularity and attention in the city of Hudson, his work being sought after by many visitors. About a year later at a joint art exhibit, I told Earl about the painting and showed him a picture of it on my cellphone. Rather than warn me not to display it or offer it for sale, he seemed amused by it, which I took as a positive response.
However, sadly, on October 26, 2015, a copyright infringement lawsuit was filed against me by Earl for the distribution of reproductions of this painting on greeting cards. Upon receiving his civil action summons, I immediately removed the work from the website offering greeting cards. I didn’t make a huge profit from reproductions of the work, only $8.50, which amount I offered to pay to Earl which I considered much more reasonable than the $200,000 he was seeking in damages. But he was unwilling to accept this, viewing it as an admission of guilt on my part. I never dreamed that my gesture of admiration could create such a controversy. From correspondence to the court, it became clear that Earl believed my motives to be an attempt to profit off of his celebrity status.
It is indeed unfortunate that such a situation has developed between two artists that work in and obviously share a love for the city of Hudson and I wish there were some way I could clear the air between us. Perhaps his reflection on these words may someday accomplish that.
Looking forward to this fall season and joining some tremendously talented artists as they display their works in Hudson. This original oil painting of mine “Warren and Seventh” along with five other of my Hudson scenes will be on display at Stair Gallery 549 Warren Street Hudson during CCCA Arts Walk as part of Windows on Warren September 29th thru October 13th. To see a map of where your favorite artists will appear visit: http://cccaartswalk.webs.com/windows-on-warren-beyond
Neumann Fine Art presents: The Power of Place, oil paintings by Ken Young and Jeffrey L. Neumann
This two-man exhibition opening July 6th and running through September 2nd will feature two painters with different styles but a commonality in depicting scenes which evoke a strong sense of place.
Both painters have been working in oils since their high school days in the early 1970’s and both painters share a fascination with rendering the textures and light and shadow found in nature and in our built environment.
Ken Young, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Hudson, New York, will be showing a series of street scenes of Hudson painted between 2010 and 2013. Although he was extremely familiar with the small upstate New York city, it was not until fairly recently that he was inspired to paint his hometown by a moment of seeing Warren Street through his rain soaked windshield. This led to his deep exploration of the urban landscape with the series of paintings featured in this show.
“I see beauty everywhere. Even in what some might consider commonplace and ordinary. Oftentimes it is fleeting and momentary. I take great pleasure in capturing and preserving it with brushes and paint so that I … and others can know that amidst the suffering and uncertainty there is goodness, peace and harmony” says Young, reflecting on his spiritual approach to art.
Jeffrey L. Neumann will be exhibiting some new work and some older pieces in his ongoing pursuit of the rapidly disappearing commercial landscape of the 20th Century. Neumann states that “My work is partly about preservation of an American vernacular landscape. I am painting vestiges of the American Dream, but I am interested in the dual nature of our American experience.
Both artists present a uniquely personal vision which invites the viewer to experience and appreciate a particular time and place though the artist’s eyes.
The Power of Place opening reception is Saturday July 6th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at Neumann Fine Art, 65 Cold Water Street, Hillsdale, NY. Gallery hours are Thursday – Sunday 11 – 4. For more information visit http://www.neumannfineart.com, Tel:413-246-5776
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess what that is supposed to mean is that a picture has the ability to communicate a message directly to the viewer so effectively that it would take a thousand words to communicate that same message. This, however, to me seems to present a problem for artists whose work has to be explained. If the purpose of a painting is to serve as a means of communication, to convey a message, and if it has to take words, another means of communication, a thousand words, to convey that message, hasn’t then that painting failed in its purpose as a medium of visual communication?
At times, due to language barriers, words fail to communicate ideas. It is very interesting, however, that we use pictures when the message is important enough yet needs to be conveyed in another language, even multiple languages. Traffic signs, for example, utilize picture symbols to instantly convey important information. Indeed, many symbols in ancient languages even began as pictures. The words actually looked like the things they were trying to describe.
Perhaps though, some artists, rather than trying to convey a clear message, are trying to raise questions, to make the viewer think. Perhaps their visual language is from a different time period or culture so that their symbols need translation in order for certain viewers to understand. Or maybe the message is so sophisticated and intellectually above the viewer that the artist needs to use words in order to explain in simpler terms to those of us that just don’t get it. I’m usually intimidated this way when viewing abstract art. I will never ask: “what is that?” in order not to appear dumb.
Maybe there is no message at all though. Maybe the artist dribbled or splashed colors together randomly until he achieved something he liked. Maybe the real thrill for him is to stand back and listen to how others interpret what he has done, to hear them attribute genius and greatness to it, to read complicated messages that he never intended to convey into it, to identify and be moved with what he has done to the point of paying large sums of money for it. To hear all the words that the buyer would say to justify to their friends their purchase. I guess then, in that case, that picture would be worth a thousand words. Whatever words anyone wanted to attribute to it.