Sunday, January 25, 2009
Rothko Reminds me of Diebenkorn
I grew up in Hood River, I was born in the 70's when it was an apple town not known for windsurfing. I got a job the day I turned 15 (I still have my laminated workers permit). I flipped burgers after school and once a week I rode the bus to a couple's house who moved from New York to Hood River Oregon, to ski and sail. They were artists in their late 30's. She did wood block prints and painted, he wrote. I changed diapers on their baby for a few hours a week. When I turned 16 they moved to San Francisco. They flew me down and took me to the first museum exhibit I would see, large rooms filled with huge paintings by Richard Diebenkorn. I didn't know at the time what made that art. I sat for a long time and stared at Ocean Park #67 (seen above)Ocen Park #129 (seen below) and others. The exhibition included dozens of Calder mobiles hanging all over the museum, in stairwells and in the rooms with the Diebenkorn's. Everyone was impressed, I was confused.
Diebenkorn, like Rothko, was an abstract expressionist. He was born in 1922 in Portland Oregon. He moved to San Francisco at the age of 2, but I think in those early years he caught a Rothko vibe in this city of roses.
I remember how I sat in the MOMA and wondered why I felt like there was something I just didn't get about these canvas' of color. How little I knew about art, and museums, and abstraction and expression. I was 16, I thought beauty was the apple orchards in blossom and painted fingernails.