Eric Dever






TO LOOK AT THINGS IN BLOOM

*(alternately: WHERE I WAS FROM)






TO LOOK AT THINGS IN BLOOM

*(alternately: WHERE I WAS FROM)

 

 

One way that I like to think about the trajectory of my life as an artist is how it relates to geography. The most common system for locating points on the earth is with longitudes and latitudes, angles measured with the center of the earth as an origin. Lately, for the past two years, I have been enjoying a form of longitudinal wanderlust, involving taste and memory. 

 

I was born and raised in Los Angeles near the 35th parallel north, which is subtropical. Bird of paradise flowers grow on traffic islands, as agapanthus or calla lilies alongside driveways. All three of these flowers follow the contour of the earth around the globe, through North America, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean, as evidenced by photos, accounts, and international postage stamps.

 

The balance of my art education and career has been spent just above and below the 40th parallel north, where summer twilights are sometimes called the gloaming or l’heure bleue. This “blue hour” is most represented in my painting when much of New York, and the Northeast are in full bloom. I recently completed a 2020 Warhol Foundation/Nature Conservancy-Montauk Project Artist residency. The Warhol Reserve is located at the eastern most tip of Long Island, and my paintings from this project particularly highlight the palette of these seasonal blue northeastern summer hues.

 

For the past two years, I have been reintroducing line and drawing into my work. I feel drawn to Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai. This reintroduction of line was also expressed organically through my participation in A Visual Conversation, a community project resulting in a mural that I organized as the Parrish Art Museum 2022 Artist Resident.

 

The title, To Look at Things in Bloom, suggests we have only so much time, for flowers inevitably fade, so we should make the most of the present moment. I have chosen the title from a line of verse from the Loveliest of Trees by AE Housman (1859-1936). Because I feel that I am now painting with everything I know since growing up in Los Angeles, the subtitle, Where I was From has a deeper meaning—of my geographical origins, and also my training, beginning, and “lines,” which are geographical, experiential, and drawn. 


In the end, I interpret the subject of my painting as painting itself, for these physical, mental, and spiritual places are seared into my optic brain and sensory memory, informing my palette and oeuvre, each painting becomes a friend and a revelation. 


*In 2018, I became reacquainted with the work of Joan Didion (1934-2021). Having read her two recent memoirs of grief, I went on to read her first two novels and entire collection of essays, including, Where I was From, which unravels complexities unique to her beloved state, California.