Get the Point?

Posted Apr 23, 2005
Last Updated Jun 21, 2012
Get the Point?
I express what's inside by drawing and painting what I see, transcribing a selected slice of objective reality into personal visual poetry. With my art, I hope to say something significant and honest, devoid of style or fashion. To capture and transmit, in clear pictorial language, the noble qualities found in ordinary things is my goal.

The meaning this small group of old personal mementos may not be readily apparent. Four sharply rendered things hang starkly on rough plywood, casting long, dark shadows. As a trompe l'oeil, this strange little non-abstract painting exists in anachronistic flux, not quite pre- or post- modern, as it struggles against classification.

Many points are depicted here: the needle points of my grandmother's needle book, the point of my father's dagger-like African letter opener, the tail and appendages of a dead horseshoe crab, its underside exposed, hung like a mounted wall trophy. But what is the connection between the crab's organic form and the three man made objects? Thread and needles mend, and letter openers open, but how do they relate to a seashore relic? The combination seems incongruous, resisting narrative interpretation.

So what's the point? For me, these objects are memento mori. I found the juvenile horseshoe crab on a north shore beach years ago after a hurricane. Its sudden moment of death was forever frozen; its carapace had cracked all along the front seam and its book gills expanded from the sea water that rushed in. My family heirlooms evoke nostalgic memories because they, like the crab's body, belong to the deceased. Sharp pointed things can cause injury, but here on my wall, in the silent falling dust, these objects speak of those at peace - above the reach of pain. Yet the ghosts conjured by these remnants of past lives touch the surviving rememberer with their points. Triggered by memory, the heart's mended wounds stay ever ready to reopen.

- Robert R. Mehling


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