Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890)
The Starry Night
Kay Bridge 2009
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir standing together on Glacier Point
American Heroes series
In a perfect world! Vincent Van Gogh and Kay Bridge
Vincent was an outsider artist making strong visual stories in impasto colors. In addition to seeing his paintings we can read what Vincent thought about his work because many of his letters have beep preserved and published. Over time Vincent's art became recognized as visionary and as a pivot point in art history. His painting caused a sea-change in the way artists used color and the unlocked the expressive powers of paint for future artists.
Vincent also wanted to live among artists but had so many personal quirks that his plans for an artist community were never realized. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and give Vincent some penicillin and a hundred bucks.
My friend Kay Bridge, like Vincent in his lifetime, is an unknown uniquely personal artist. Kay passed away last month and it is hard for me to write Kay "was" an unknown artist. But she's still unknown so I can say "is". She did have a show of her work in 2010 in Portland. Then the work went back into her basement and she continued to paint until she became ill.
Kay, like Vincent, left many letters in the form of emails that give us insights into her paintings. One example is John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt that I have posted here. And now I'll give you a sample of Kay's writing about this painting.
I was going to continue my American Heroes series w/Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir standing together on Glacier Point at Yosemite but that has morphed into them with Venus de Milo, lifted from the Mexican “Classicos” matchbox and the Parthenon in conjunction with the view of the SMiguel street seen from the sundeck above Leigh;’s casita. It looks a little bit like a Ucello. The only problem is that the train on the matchbook is in the way of the Venus. The fact that she has no arms may perhaps make her somewhat recognizable. At least, she still has a mouth and nose. You know the old saying, “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal.?” Not that I am a professional….
So, in my perfect world in our assignment people would feel free to dig deep into who they are to use art supplies to be passionate story-telling artists. We share creative instincts that want to flow out to others. Both Kay and Vincent left work that inspires us and makes the world a better place. I'm glad that I can use this assignment to bring them together. Kay liked to bring unexpected characters together to inhabit the same painting. She also brought many fellow artists together because she organized painting intensives with the master teacher Leigh Hyams. I envision Kay and Vincent standing before a vivid sunset in painters' heaven having a great conversation and painting their hearts out.