S: The Citrus Grove Will Pope Paintings 2011
BC: Will Pope paintings 2011 The Citrus Grove | They Were The Best of Times
FC: The Citrus Grove | Will Pope Paintings 2011
1: The Citrus Grove | I had great fun with this series. It brings together a number of both playful and spiritual elements. These pieces brought me back to painting after the market crash. I let the work be fun, simple, loose. When I question the validity of painting in the age of grandiose arts and film, I can return to these and find meaning and value - which is vital. I think it's important to find a reason to do things, make things ... a reason beyond money.
2: After the Gold Rush | I did 'The Trail South' on Larry and T.J Sebastian's ranch in Weatherford, Texas. I relate to longhorn cattle, and to the desert - Texas is my first home. Cattle have a way of being cartoons of themselves and so they're a perfect subject for a more playful style. Humor is a form of intelligent and intellectual rebellion - so I don't think of these as low-brow at all. Texas can be a fun and colorful place, that's what I was getting at, these are existentialist narratives.
3: The Trail South | The color scheme in 'The Trail South' really works for me. I love how the blue green, and white pop off the orange. I put the blue Sun on one day, and the canvas sat for about a year before I added the rest.
4: Desert Bloom | 'Desert Bloom' is a painting I did several years ago, as part of the 'La Frontera' series - I put it back on the easel and worked on it again, which is rare for me, I think it fits in with the new work and I'm glad to have revisited it. I'll keep going.
5: Great Western Sun | 'Great Western Sun' is another painting that I did a few years back, but it feels relevant and current. In terms of Western Art, these bold, simple statements are all I want or expect from myself. They don't lie.
6: This series is my favorite to date and in some way a reduction of my color and symbol palette - especially 'The Law of Attraction,' which was done for our dear friends Faheem Khan and his wife Cissy. (His young son, Noah is a budding artist, and his daughter, Nadia, an aspiring actress. Like our children they are astonishingly smart, beautiful, and talented, and lend credence to the Indigo Children theory.) Their family re-inspired me in my art and some of that flowed out into my work. When I finished the painting for the Khans, Adria didn't want to part | Sundancers
7: The Law of Attraction | The Law of Attraction | with it, and so I kept painting in this vein. I still owe Adria one like it. It may be that this is the defining recipe of my career. If I had to repeat myself (and all successful artists do) I wouldn't mind doing variations on this theme over a long period of time. They're fun, smart, and spiritual. Good combo.
8: Seven Fires | 'Seven Fires' was one of the most inspired paintings of the year. I have some amount of Native American heritage, and have always been attached to and concerned for the original Americans. This is my third large Indian canvas and I'm excited to go down the Red Road. It's easy, second nature, it feels like home. I have my hair grown long and Adria always tells me how Indian I look. There is a part of me that is meant to make these pictures. They're spiritual talismans - like kites that fly into sacred space with my key tied, and the lightning strikes naturally and I discover Indian electricity, every time.
9: I always have a number of very small pieces going. I don't particularly like working small because I don't feel I can say enough. I like to see and feel and tell a story. It's particularly hard to do with animals. Every once in awhile I do a small canvas that I feel is successful - this one is. | '6' | or, 'and then our number was reduced to only three'
10: They Were the Best of Times | This painting was sort of 'designed' by a guy who liked my work - he talked about specific elements from his favorite paintings. I listed them out and put them in a single painting, which made for an odd juxtaposition, but they work well together - They're some of my favorite things too, so it's personal. With elephants it's a little more complicated, because I was nearly killed by one, and my friend Mike Bell was killed by an elephant, at the Fort Worth Zoo. My dad saw it happen, Mike was his best friend, but there was nothing anybody could do, except watch. I still love elephants but they have a different meaning for me. When put together these things form a kind of a dream-scape. This is one that I wish had ended up with me - but it went to a new gallery instead. That's important too. You tell yourself you can always do another one like it - but you never do, and even if you did it wouldn't be the same.
11: The Hot, Hot Sun | This is one in a continuing series of dancers in the desert. For me the desert is the most mystical of places. Through dancing I think you can find a corridor to sacred space - like the Native American Sundancers, or trance dancing in our youth culture, or like the whirling dervishes from the days of Rumi and Hafiz in the Middle East. We need more ritual and more access to transformational activity. That's what the tattoo phenom is about - young people seeking something authentic. Our society is ravenous for spiritual food, and I think dancing is spiritual food.
12: The point for me in articulating these smaller canvases is to let go - to be brief, to get the idea out without obsessing over finish and polish. In today's world I think to suggest is enough. | The Clearing
13: We're Better Together | Owls are creatures unto themselves - they're very commanding and comical at once - they seem to take themselves so seriously, but they blink in such an exaggerated way and their heads can spin all the way around. We tend to see ourselves in animals, because we are animals - I saw this as a portrait of Adria and me, and how ridiculous we sometimes are, trying to be taken seriously while being so unruffled. Also these two seem to be one mass of feathers. Couples can be like that, no longer individuals but having become some odd two-headed operation, moving through the world as one. Owls are so odd, so they make odd couples too. One of my spiritual names is White Owl William White Owl) because I became an owl on a vision quest many years ago. I have tremendous respect for them, for their omniscience in the treetops, as hunters, and for their sheer oddness.
14: 'El Tinman' is a piece I did for friends in Fort Worth, Texas, Rob and Rhonda Felton. The piece was originally much more muted in color, but as I was working every morning the sun shone through a crystal and splashed a rainbow directly onto the piece. They have two kids - their son Randall is a budding artist in his own right - and so the bright palette kind of made sense to me. The piece is a loose map of their lives. They vacation every year in Montana, and they attended OU - as does their daughter, Megan. They have a ranch called the Tin 4, which I intimated, as well as architectural plans for a house they're planning to build. There's a famous old theater in Fort Worth called, 'Casa Mañana,' built as a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, which at the time was ultra-modern, futuristic, as was the thrust of the day. I included the theater and their plans for the home they intend to build, hence the 'House of Tomorrow' double entendre. The painting took me forty-five days straight to complete, which is the longest I've ever spent on a single painting. It kept changing in color, elements. It was very alive - there were constant coincidences, the work was responding to me in that way. It's a large painting and complex - when you're in front of it the eye can't stop traveling. It kind of compels you to keep moving on a journey through their personal landscape using the map of the painting. It's dramatic, and even emotional because their four person family strongly mirrors ours from a 'division of love' standpoint. That's something I learned from the painting. I was so exhausted when I finished - mentally, physically, emotionally - and so tied to the work. Painting is much more than painting, art is much more than art. | El Tinman and the House of Tomorrow
15: Morninglines (Rio de Janiero) | The shantytowns of Rio have one saving grace, and that is their aesthetic beauty in photography and paintings. I've done a couple but am planning a series. They remind me a little of the small neighborhoods in Chavez Ravine in L.A. where I used to live - which were torn down essentially to make Dodger Stadium. Cities are fascinating things; they cause hope, loss, nostalgia. I think we all identify with a city, actually two - our hometown, and the one we eventually choose for ourselves. For some people that's the same place.
16: Time, and Time Again | These were painted in Weatherford, Texas, for a summer show in Bozeman. Because the panels I work on are so specific, Adria shipped a number of them, which I plastered and painted, and then shipped them back before flying home. It was odd working away from home for a show that would happen there - but it allowed me to stay in Texas and keep shooting on 'The Pride,' which features the Sebastian family on their ranch. 'Time, and Time Again' is taken from a 1950's still photograph that T.J. Sebastian found at an estate sale. I added the birds. It brings me back to the Arizona desert, which might be my favorite place on earth.
17: Red State Lemonade | 'Red State Lemonade' began as a study of a woman picking lemons. The map sprang up out of background patterns in the plaster. The painting gave me pause to mull over the strengths of both political parties - and to plainly see that both contribute to a commonality we recognize as 'America,' which is our common identity. To feminize the discussion, and to include 'the worker,' in the composition, helped me to see the classic arguments with a fresh eye. In the end we're all doing the best we can, and 'making lemonade out of lemons,' in other words making do despite the other political camp. We do need to re-think our common strategy and reunite as Americans, and I think I was trying to articulate that sentiment, It may take some non-traditional arguments from non-traditional voices to bridge our entrenched mistrust and misunderstandings.
18: Over the Goal Post | One word for 'painting' in Spanish is 'cuadro' which means box, or square. I like to think of them as boxes which contain other worlds...paintings resemble windows for the same reason. I feel that in making paintings with recognizable, representational figures which inhabit an 'impossible' space, an alternate world/universe is automatically inferred, and a narrative to go along with that reality. These are experiments in inventing new and more interesting vistas, beings, and objects, which relate to this world but are not this world. This process reduces to a form of mysticism serving as an adjunct to reality - either expressing the profundity of our lives, or seeking that profundity.
19: I Become the Animals and the Sun
20: From the Water Comes Fishes and Boats | Simple is best. It's not easy though. My father was a naturalist, and painted strictly from nature. When you stick to the universals, essentially nature or everyday life, you have a lot bigger audience because everyone can identify with the subject matter. You have to make it interesting, add whatever drama you can - Audubon was very successful in bringing action into bird paintings. I recently have been working from stuffed animals and it's a whole different ballgame. To see the animal in three dimensions rather than a flat photograph is much more compelling, and that comes through in the work. Even to be able to photograph stuffed wildlife up close is very helpful. It seems cruel, and I have 'almost life-like' jokes running through my head - but you have to be able to study animals in order to paint them. My father spent fifteen years as an artist at the Fort Worth Zoo - he didn't make a lot of money, but that's a very enviable experience. There are a lot worse ways to spend your time.
21: Teton Gold | We have the most beautiful Western Tanagers coming and going out of our bay windows in Bozeman. We constantly have Cedar Waxwings and Magpies - who have duels, sometimes to the death. When the Tanagers come it's a nice surprise. There are Mallards everywhere, and Canadian Geese seasonally. We see formations of Pelicans, which seems odd. Apparently they come through Yellowstone. I'm grateful they're here. Making paintings of the natural landscape in a way that's compelling is extremely difficult. Birds are always welcome, though - everyone seems to identify with them. We've chosen them as acceptable partners in the scheme of life, and accept them as an archetypal form of beauty, all unconsciously, automatically. Flowers are the same way - and in a sense it seems like they want us to do this, and we do it.
22: Double Entendre | The naming of paintings is always a curious process. I never name a painting until after it's done. In this case there are two windmills, two clouds, two cacti, and two warm-bloodeds. The name 'Double Entendre' popped into my head as I was searching for meaning. After it was named, I realized I had given it a whole world of meaning, whereas before there was very little mystery. Giving it a name gives it a narrative, and it immediately becomes a story, and therefore an entire world. Even if I had called it 'Untitled' people would be making associations, looking for the story.
23: Ghost Dance | I love this painting. It's the first in the 'dancers in the desert' series. It's also unique in that I've painted it twice. I've always been interested in forgeries, and also simply copying masterworks. I decided to start by copying myself. The second painting came out so similar that I can't tell from a photograph which painting is which. The painting does something to me. It switches something in the brain because of the odd juxtaposition, and the spiritual meaning of the dance ignites. That's what I was getting at, and it happens for me. It may not be transferable to another person, but for me it flips the switch.