Jack Balas, 2016; THE FARMHAND,
OR, GRANT WOOD'S RE-ENTRY INTO IOWA, TRIUMPHANT. (#1337) (Exacted
on the summer solstice, Monday June 20, 2016)
watercolor, acrylic & ink on paper, 22" x 30"
On one level, all I wanted to
say yesterday about this new painting is-- I love my job.
But when I consider the title... if you've never heard, Grant Wood (Iowa's favorite son, artist of "American Gothic" and other "regionalist" artworks) was about as closeted a gay man as one could be in 1930's-40's Cedar Rapids. It irks me somewhat, that that knowledge would have been helpful to me personally back in the 70's and 80's when I was in art school. You could say that time is righting that wrong today. But a week ago, when a misguided fool-cretin-crusader walked into a gay bar in Orlando and slaughtered 49 people for being gay and wounded an equal number, based on what I've read was his outrage at seeing 2 men kissing on the street--- I'd say the world (my world, his world, your world) needs more images like this one-- one that engages male sexuality and yet goes beyond eye candy, at a time when no one blinks if the subject is female (consider Jeff Koons, George Condo, and on and on), while other gay artists avoid the subject matter and retreat into various post modernisms (Robert Gober, Ellsworth Kelly, Rauschenberg & Johns, lots more.) Several years ago, an artist friend of mine in Denver who is gay himself asked me why I keep painting images of men, saying others he knew wondered the same thing-- evidently in a city and market that couldn't give a crap-- and implying that there was something "wrong" or "suspect" about the endeavor. All I could do back then, and today, is shake my head. It's really not about me; it's about something much bigger. What I choose to paint insinuates itself into how YOU lead YOUR life. What kind of world do you want to live in? Certainly not one that leads to all the blood on that floor in Orlando.
So about this painting-- have a laugh. It's about time.