Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas as we know it: An American Phenomenon

A lot of people seem to be really upset about Christmas.  I don't really get it.  Christmas is the All Purpose Holiday.  On Christmas, you decorate your house, see your family, eat too much, exchange gifts, and maybe even wear that special Christmas sweater just for the occasion.  It's like Thanksgiving, Halloween, and your birthday all rolled into one. Which is AWESOME.

Some Christians get upset that we pay less attention to Jesus than we do to Santa Claus on Christmas.  Pagans remind us that Christmas is celebrated when it is because of the Winter Solstice and that many of the traditions we associate with Christmas, like Christmas Trees and the exchange of presents, are throwbacks to the Pagan Solstice celebrations of old.  Then there's that tired "War on Christmas" gimmick that's been tossed around for a few years now by the Evangelical extremists. 

I think folks should just get over it.  Christmas is obviously winning.

And besides, all the history associated with Christmas is essentially irrelevant anyway.  What's celebrated in America today that we all call Christmas is as distinctly American a holiday as the 4th of July.  And it's fucking awesome.  You don't have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas.  I'm not. 

Christmas is a time for families to gather just as the days begin slowly to lengthen and to reflect on the year before New Year's Eve erases it from our memories.  It's meant to be a reminder that we're loved and whether that love originates from Jesus, Santa or Grandma is entirely immaterial.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Decide and Conquer"

I've just completed the largest painting I've done in many years.  I last mentioned this panel a few entries ago in "Works in Progress, November 2011: Part One."  At that time, my intention was essentially to paint a big pink and black flower.  When I started getting going on it though it turned into something else entirely. I originally spoke about the panel used in the piece way back in April in "White Birch Paralysis." At the beginning, I was totally intimidated by the very idea of painting it at all, so this one's come a long way.

The picture to the left here is a detail of the piece.  The Pink Bunny, Gilded Axe in hand, is faced with a choice between descending into the square hole in the ground and blazing a trail through the brambles ahead.

In this moment he considers each option, fingering the axe, eyes fixed firmly on the golden light beyond the tangled thicket. 

"Decide and Conquer" Jason Burrell 2011
Acrylic on Wood Panel: 24" x 36"
The square hole is no rabbit hole- no place he wishes to go- and yet it beckons to him, being the easier of the two choices.  Naught to do but fall and hope the end comes sudden- unexpected. 

Hacking through the thicket- thin enough to do so only just at the edge of the square hole- promises to be an exhausting, all-encompassing labour.  However, only this way will ultimately lead him to the light.

I've chosen to call this piece "Decide and Conquer." The Pink Bunny can conquer himself by overcoming his weaknesses and persevering or by giving up and throwing himself in the pit. The decision is his and his alone.

Like much of my work lately, this painting is a fairly transparent and possibly over-dramatic exercise in self-portraiture.  I suppose this is only natural with all the changes I've made in my life recently, many of them born of a realization that one needs to earn his dreams if he wants to live them. 

I plan to have "Decide and Conquer" on display at my show next month at 29 Newbury.  I'll post more details about that show as I get them.  For now, I have about a dozen paintings to complete before Christmas so it's off to work I go!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"That's When I Grew Up." -Me: 2043

I've been thinking a lot lately about how much my life has changed since I was kid.  This has included a certain amount of reminiscence, as I suppose is natural, but lately I've been turning much of my attention on the subject of change to consideration of the future in a way I'm not certain I've done before.  Sure, I've always had hopes and dreams and so forth- but if I'm perfectly honest about it I have to admit that up until relatively recently I've done very little to substantially create the future me I want to one day be.

So as a part of becoming that man, I've been spending a lot of time painting and drawing and planning as I generally do, but also working actively to get the work actually seen, a duty in which I've been remiss in recent years.  I currently have single works hanging in group shows at UForge Gallery and Thos. Moser Showroom, with receptions on the 10th and 15th, respectively, of this month.  There's also a solo show in the works for next month at 29 Newbury, and hopefully a few more not long after that.

Beyond that, I've been actively submitting to other shows for which my work was rejected, which actually makes me happy.  It feels like progress when I get a rejection notice in a way I hadn't expected.  It means I've actually taken a risk and am thereby closer to the goal of self-sufficiency I've set forth.  I'm applying the lessons I've learned about being unafraid to fail in painting to my life and it's working.  Sometimes it seems paint is the best teacher I've ever had.

I'm 32 years old and have seen great change both in the world and in myself over that time.  If I survive another 32 years, I'm sure I'll see things I can't now even imagine becoming commonplace on this strange and wonderful planet.  I hope that in that time I too change and grow and become the man I've always merely dreamt of being and that as that man, look back on these times and say "That's when I grew up."

Here are the details of my two upcoming receptions in case you'd like to attend.


Minatures Group Show at UForge Gallery

Saturday, December 10th, 2011
6:00pm- 8:00pm
Uforge Gallery, 767 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA

On view: December 1st- 23rd, 2011

Holiday Group Show at Thos. Moser Showroom
To benefit Toys For Tots: We suggest each guest kindly bring an unwrapped gift.
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
19 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116

On view: December 6th- 27th, 2011