Jack Balas, 2019: REEL-TO-REEL (#1860); oil and enamel on canvas, 40" x 48"
For weeks this painting has been elusive- changing directions, erased, painted over, garbled. So today on the winter solstice I just give up, watch the sun go down over a yard littered with scraps of snow, my lap littered with scraps of paper Mom wrote on eons ago, notes she kept on TV shows she was recording on equally ancient video tapes. Her handwriting is big loopy letters in pencil, entering titles and durations like some birth record: 1/2-hour Gardening Bob Thomson, 1/2-hour Julia Child Birthday Cake, Phil Donahue, Dick Cavett, Painting on Black Canvas, and then Your New Day.
The tapes themselves are long gone but her writing has endured- and I sense some message other than the words themselves, hidden in invisible ink that only appears when heated. So I feed the notes into my woodstove and I watch as the paper first shrivels and then turns black. On one are lyrics to a hymn she liked to sing, "How Great Thou Art," but in a sudden burst of flame and light, out instead comes "Don't Dream It's Over," and I know that tomorrow the sun will rise with a new assignment: to wax in a new arc rewound, and replay these words across this, My New Painting.