The grey stripped asphalt of the lonely country road outside his home would soon bring mourners.
It was the coldest winter in over fifty years. Could he remember being that cold?
Andrew Wyeth’s Christmas Morning
It’s with great pleasure that I announce coldspace, my homage to Andrew Wyeth written in a quasi-stream-of-consciousness fit of inspiration the day his death was announced in January of 2009, has found a home on The Eunoia Review.
Reader beware, the story contains some indulgent run-on sentences and is a bit more experimental than my usual fare.
Who knew that all these years later it would be published…and that THIS winter of 2014 would supplant those winters of Wyeth as the coldest in memory?
The Eunoia Review is an online literary journal committed to sharing the fruits of beautiful thinking. Publishing eclectic and unique works daily, it has become the home for hundreds of writers over the years and a regular destination for readers looking for those entrancing “Buddhist catnaps” of Kurt Vonnegut lore.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Sundance hit Take Shelter is a haunting slow-burner about a man trying to weather the storms from within and without. It exists at that rare cinematic nexus of emerging talents in front of and behind the camera. It’s the type of small film that deserves a bigger audience than it has thus far earned.
In the lead role of Curtis, Michael Shannon (currently mayor of creep city on Boardwalk Empire) builds upon his past typecasting in films like Revolutionary Road and My Son My Son What Have Yee Done? to fully inhabit a man at wit’s end. As his wife, Samantha, Jessica Chastain emerges from the dreamy otherworldliness of Malick’s The Tree of Life to portray a lovely down-to-earth young woman who fights with every fiber of her being to keep her family together even as she fears her husband is losing his mind. Shannon’s unnerving physical performance and average schlub personality is the perfect foil to Chastain’s girl-next-door beauty and gumption. Together they dance through Nichols’ quiet mind-field and let off tiny emotional explosions that could rattle the doors off a barn…or a storm cellar. Continue reading →
Like an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life, Malick's obsession with open doors and windows conjures myth and memories.
Nature is a cruel and unforgiving mistress.
Over time, man has conjured God to tame her and give reason and order to the random chaos.
In present day, a man named Jack (Sean Penn) wanders listlessly through a cold, sterile metropolis where success is measured by wealth and excess. On the anniversary of his brother’s death, a call to his father triggers an ocean of memories to come rushing over him. Distracted, he daydreams and wonders about the meaning of life and why his brother had to be taken from him. Was it because of the bad things he did as a child? Was it a failure on the part of his parents? Is it because his God is a mysterious and unknowable power that snuffs out life as easily as it gives it away? Is this why he has become so misguided and empty today? Jack imagines his childhood bookended by the beginning and end of time, where writer/director Terrence Malick’s meta-narrative provides a linear mirror image to Weerasethakul’s cosmic cycling from Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Memories and dreams fuel both films, but The Tree of Life cuts through time like a knife. Continue reading →
It strikes me as sweetly poetic that he should pass at the age of 91 quietly in his sleep, an eternal hibernation born during one of the coldest spells of winter his homeland of Chadds Ford, PA has seen in years.
Andrew Wyeth’s Soaring
This Andrew Wyeth, I picture his soul gently soaring into the heavens, his works of art remaining for all to see down below on earth.
Famed realist painter, son, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, friend, beloved by all he encountered, my favorite American artist…shall never paint again…his talent now gone with the wind from the sea.
Over the years I’ve seen some great exhibits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art including the Renoir Landscapes and the recent one featuring Frida Kahlo. However, the one that will always stay with me most is the amazing Andrew Wyeth Memory & Magic exhibit. His art highly influenced some of the imagery I tried to create in The Thief Maker and continues to captivate me.
This summer I finally ventured out to the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA, which houses much of Andrew’s art as well as other painters and works from his father, N. C. Wyeth and son, Jamie Wyeth. About an hour from my neck of the woods in South Jersey and about forty minutes from Center City Philadelphia, the museum is a picturesque three-story masterpiece that cozily wraps around a lazy stretch of the Brandywine River (where kayakers can be seen gently passing by) and is situated in quaint pastures just off of Route 1. Part of the museum’s appeal beyond the beautiful setting is the level of intimacy it allows visitors to achieve with the works of the Wyeth Family, and in some cases, with actual members of the family. Guided tours by shuttle-bus take you to the N. C. Wyeth House and Studio, and to be able to see the family quarters and the working space of three generations of world-renowned artists is a unique experience few other museums can claim. Continue reading →
The tumultuous events of The Thief Maker span four decades and speckle the landscape of the East Coast from New York to South Carolina. The novel takes place in “my own backyard”–inspired by locations near where I have lived, visited and studied over the years.
The House on 22nd and Green Streets in Philadelphia where Felice Morrison, and later Marie Gail and her son-Rex Thomas Gail-live, is an actual location in the Art Museum district of the city. I was completely transfixed the first time my friend and I came across the building while walking down 22nd Street towards the museum and knew immediately that it had to be in the book. Upon my next visit to the area, I was smart enough to have someone take a photo seen below: