Jack Balas, 2011; KISSING THE MOON (FOR WINSLOW HOMER) (#586); oil and enamel on canvas; 32" x 60"
Kissing the moon is not something I ever tried, hanging out at the Art Institute growing up in Chicago. Homer's painting never hung there, with its 3 men in an unseen boat, sliding down an ocean trough with a wavetip intersecting the orb of a rising full moon. I could have tried kissing a pumpkin, though, the ones in Winslow's box of watercolors I'd ask to see in the print and drawing study room, where Id sit at a big table and they'd set it down in front of me, open the lid and then walk away, and there they'd be, this stack of Adirondacks and Bahamas, balanced design and controlled technique shot through with orgasms of puddled color. FOR TO BE A FARMER'S BOY was my favorite, its boy carrying the hard waxy pumpkin through a field, another at his feet. Did I want to be him? thinking of my aunt's tomato patch in our backyard? I went in recently and, to my delight the drill had not changed, they brought the box, opened it and walked away, only now I was asked to wear white gloves. When I see a pumpkin these days I think of how that painting tapped some reservoir deep down, waiting to gush to the surface. And when I see a moon rising, its glowing orb full and orange in a dusk sky, I feel my lips begin to pucker, ready, no gloves.