I have always known New England to be a place that thrives on a dry sense of humor, but who could blame us? “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” often rings truer than one might imagine. Our hard emotional exterior often stems from the fact that we deal with, on average, six months of brutal winter, followed by one month of perfection, four months of unbearable heat and humidity, and a month of gorgeous foliage before everything dies again.
New Englanders are overwhelmingly exposed to the notion that life is temporary.
Not only do we receive a constant reminder of our own mortality through the change of seasons, but also architecturally, we are immersed in a setting that emphasizes that which has come and gone. We live in houses that are 300 years old, work in buildings that used to be mills and factories, and we pass by monuments erected by the leaders of the 18thand 19thcenturies. It’s that sense of history that sets apart, but often chastises New England from the rest of the contemporary art world. Perhaps the lighthouse and covered bridge paintings that often represent the art from this region facilitate a skewed outsider interpretation of what it really means to live up here.
The paintings that people associate with New England have never depicted this area the way I have come to know and love it. There’s a raw honesty that seems to be missing, and in the place of the authentic, we’re given a veneer of the picturesque. The New England I know is not always so quaint. When I see New England, I see buffalo plaid, “blaze orange” and broken vehicles that are worth saving for some reason. I see hardened, weather-tough characters that are ready to take on the task at hand, no matter how loathsome, and are still able to laugh about it later. Like these characters, I too see the humor in living through 6 months of winter and that humor has not only helped me to survive, but has also driven my passion for narrative painting.