Friday, August 14, 2009
Judy Cooke ~ Celebration After the Fact, Includes Staples and Masking Tape
Celebration After the Fact is a large piece. When you approach this piece in the gallery at the Portland Art Museum, you'll see that it hangs on the wall beginning above your head and ending about a foot above the floor. It's also quite wide – your outstretched arms might not extend past the edges. Looking closer at the edges and you'll see grommets. Judy Cooke chose an old canvas tarp as the support for this abstract painting. It's canvas but canvas of an unconventional format for an artist –– unusual materials and materials used in a different fashion are some of the hallmarks of modern art.
Now look for four very light colored rectangles. There is one in each of the two bottom quadrants very near the grommets on the dark blue strips. Those rectangles were pieces of canvas that had been stitched to the original tarp, removed and then re-applied to the canvas, but with of all things, staples. Look closely again and you'll see strips of white running down the center of the canvas. That's masking tape that has been applied to split the canvas in two. The left half and right half are only symmetrical in size not in content. The canvas appears to be divided again by design elements–– an upper half and a lower half making four quadrants. Now look for thinner strips of white adding more design elements. There's one on the right hand leg of that triangle in the lower right quadrant. As your eye moves down to that triangle you'll also notice the only oval shape. The way it is placed and with the shading that Cooke has applied around its edge, it appears to be the entrance to the inner world of that canvas. Should you ever visit the piece, you'll notice subtleties of colors –– blues, blacks, greys and tans. Some of those combine to almost purplish tones. You'll also see what could very well be original "mold" stain on the canvas.
This is truly a work that will keep your interest if you spend a few minutes with it. While you're doing that, you'll probably find yourself wondering what Celebration After the Fact Judy Cooke was alluding to in her title. And for those who are at the Portland Art Museum, look down in that bottom left hand quadrant. You'll see Cooke has penciled in CELEBRATION AFTER THE FACT Judy Cooke 1972.