Happiness 12″ x 16″ Oil on panel, framed by the artist
Happiness is now among a growing number of my more symbolic works, layered with depth of meaning. The bright happy child, Ashley, is the daughter of my best friend Don Harvey, his wonderful wife Dyanne. Ashley represents the possibility of happiness in this dreamscape we call life. The father (figure on the left) is auditioning for the part as head of family, a part that was written for him in heaven, after he and Dyanne dreamt of the possibility for so many years. The sun shines brightly on the couple on the right. Mother and father have come together in the hope of something beautiful emanating from their love. Stage hands are placing the theatrical flats in position. The panels are fragmented, needing the guidance to be placed in exactly the right position on the stage, so that the loving family might fill in the missing pieces of our heart. It’s as if we are preparing for a play that will reveal the secret to a happy life, filled with belonging and connectedness.
Happiness is elusive, and is in fact, something that is never fully arrived at; it is a continuous journey, filled with many other emotions along the way, as in any piece of great theatre. The little girl is also a metaphor for me and so many others, who were born perfect, but along the way, as life happened, became “broken” or compartmentalized. The idea of putting the pieces back together as the director of our own lives is thrilling to me, not just as an artistic exercise but as a man, raising my own children and a husband. We are interconnected, part of a miraculous whole. Meanwhile, this is all going on at times in a very public way, as if on a stage. We are all but “poor players, who strut and fret our moment on the stage,” sharing ourselves, as artists, as we harness our life experiences in the creation and fulfillment of our work.
Also, it is inspired by my Charleston colleague Nathan Durfee, who’s genius work I admire and who painted something recently in a similar vein. Enjoy, “Happiness.”