Of Rivers and Beasts
On April Fool’s Day, 2015, I turned in the keys to my former home and studio and set out for Osage Arts Community, an arts retreat on a 180-acre farm in Southern Missouri, situated on the Gasconade River (not only the windiest river in North America, apparently, but also one of the few that flows North). I’d signed a contract to be an artist-in-residence for three months and planned to figure the rest of my life out from there. 3 months became 6, 6 became 9, 9 became 18 ... the paintings presented here were all made during a residency which is currently in its 29th month.
In laying out the paintings for Rivers and Beasts I quickly abandoned the idea of a simple chronological order. That kind of straight-line structure conveyed a false impression that this work had evolved and was produced at some steady or constant rate. A more accurate vision of this work’s evolution looks much like the river itself; there are places where things flow smoothly and the surface appears calm and clear, there are points at which things constrain form- ing rough rapids and shallow eddies where ideas circle endlessly back on themselves, and there are moments where things simply overflow their banks with paintings spilling from tables and flooding the walls. At times a painting I have struggled with for months has been saved through such a small act as the addition of a single brush stroke or simply by turning it upside down.
I finally decided to present these works in four sections or chapters designated either by specific studio location, or by an event large and forceful enough to define my experience for a period of months. It is my hope that these sections provide context to the works presented:
1. The River House
2. Up on a Hill or The Color Purple
3. After the Flood
4. Lost and Found in the Forest or Do Not Drive in to Smoke
The distance between OAC and my former live/work space in downtown St. Louis is barely a hundred miles. The experience of spending thirty plus months in this wild, mutable, experimental and transformative place feels like far greater distances have been traveled
Greg Edmondson, August 2017