Eric Dever

Where I Was From: Paintings by Eric Dever

I became reacquainted with Joan Didion in 2018. Having read her 2 recent memoirs of grief, I went on to read her first 2 novels and entire collection of essays through one and a half months of hospitalizations and a lengthy recovery. Her writing is soothing and reassuring—she tells the truth. I lingered over a particular collection of essays, Where I was From, which unravels complexities unique to her beloved state. California is subtropical, irrigated and hydrated through a network of carefully monitored dams and waterways, just as highways, for better or worse, are controlled by Caltrans. 

Her references to plants and places remain on my mind. Agapanthus, alongside her house in Brentwood Park, recall the equally ubiquitous calla lily, just as the Barnsdall’s hollyhocks, which inspired a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and my grandfathers’ own (both were gardeners) cymbidiums, roses and citrus. 

The Santa Monica Mountains are traversed through canyons, some lead to the Pacific Ocean and others to Hollywood or the San Fernando Valley. A treacherous sea cave is part of Didion’s time on Portuguese Bend, and another at Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, where I visited with my father on his weekends. Similarly, the Santa Cruz Mountains form a ridge down the San Francisco Peninsula and Santa Clara Valley to Monterey Bay ending at the Salinas Valley.

The subject of my painting is painting itself, as California seared into my optic brain and sensory memory, informs my palette and oeuvre.

This site and its entire contents are © Eric Dever. Reproduction prohibited except by permission of the artist. Artwork photography by Gary Mamay.