Thursday, November 8, 2012

Arthur McCall's new nostalgia

Arthur McCall

The Ranch
Acrylic on Panel
24” x 18”

Hidden in the backwoods of our nostalgic memory lies a dormant thought awakened by a quick jolt of visual appeasement. Arthur McCall is one such artist that has that ability to stimulate our reminiscent reflections of our ancestors. Described as a painter of “Nostalgic landscapes”, Arthur depicts country-time scenes that hearken back to the times of a pre industrial era; a rugged living dictated by the seasons not the clock, farmhouses before factory farming and open communities before gated ones.

 ….“Paintings that remind us of the place we went hunting with Uncle Joe, or the place Granddad used to own, or the family ranch. Each one striking a cord within us all to a place and time we have only maybe heard about in long winded stories from Aunt Ruthie at Christmastime, but none the less awe inspiring and seemingly important in a family lineage kind of way.”

 A retired Game Warden for the state of Texas, Arthur spent most of his adult life outside, dealing with farmhands, poachers, cowboys, immigrants, hunters, and “good ol’ country boys”.  This genial living taught Arthur many life lessons, but everything about his stoic profession shaped who he was and who he became. An armed artist with a charismatic lifestyle that mirrors his ability to capture the Texas terrain, Arthur used his camera daily to record the likings he saw while in the field.

“The Ranch”, an acrylic painting on panel measuring 24” x 18” is a wonderful new release from Arthur McCall that demonstrates a new found ability in patience.  The success of the painting lies in the conclusion that since his retirement Arthur is spending more time with each painting; working on subtle as well as intense details, reexamining the overall vegetation clusters, adding more character to the houses, building and barns- all the while maintaining his airy integrity. Still impressionistic, the compositional layers of images make for a simple analysis. Foreground, middle, and background all lead into another; creating a cohesive course of gestalt-ian flow.

Vibrant white and yellow budding flowers spot the landscape leading up to the secluded stable, like scattered airplane runway lights- glowing in painterly luminescence, showing us the way into the darkened abyss of our over stimulated techno world.  A broken carriage with wooden wheels and springboard seating demands our attention-a possible metaphor of a larger broken society; showing progress at any point in time is always overrun by emerging technologies, must-haves to make our lives better. Seated yards away from the wagon up on the hill sits an open faced barn; missing shingles, slats as well as inhabitants – it subsists until the end of its time when it will eventually collapse under its own damaged, weathered, and worn out existence. (Insert onomatopoeia-like alliteration reference for our own lives)

However, peaking above the low level architecture, perched on the left side of the composition sits a signatory windmill. Operating with only its own liveliness and no one to celebrate its fruits of labor, it spins freely as an open air ornament to a sense of wistfulness while wispy clouds pass ever so quietly in the evening sun.

And, yes there are the obligatory bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes, but the cliché Texas landscape flowers play a less important role to this painting, allowing the other ingredients to breathe live into a mnemonic melancholy memory of time and space.

©Gabriel Diego Delgado

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