Our Shared Past blends the personal and universal through the prism of family
[“It Was Supposed to be Fun.” All original images courtesy of Jefree Shalev.]
[“A Few Years Later,” photograph by Carolyn Brass, 2013.]
The phenomenon of memories can be as slippery and ephemeral as the combination of passing time and thought that lifts them into our consciousness. Does every memory that we keep carry with it some importance and resonance? Why will one recollection occupy our lives while others are overlooked, dismissed or forgotten altogether? Refined through the spectrum of our feelings and emotions, the past can bring us joy, resentment, and even mislead us completely. When combined with nostalgia, that seemingly-universal longing for what can no longer be experienced, a remembrance can even turn into a kind of memorial. Nostalgia can be likened to a funeral where time is buried, yet we still insist on revisiting the headstone, in some weird hope of deciphering these memorials of our past.
And if there is an even greater collective resemblance of memory, it is that they are generally tied into relationships; reveries which seem tethered to our connections to lovers, enemies, our own place in the greater universe, and invariably family. Continue reading →
Jim Draper reflects on the experience of “Feast of Flowers”
[“Ogeechee Lime,” 72 x 109, oil on canvas. Photographed by Doug Eng.]
Jim Draper is right on time. Meeting me in the Stein Gallery at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens on our agreed upon appointment of 1:30 p.m., Draper strolls into the large space where his multi-disciplinary project “Feast of Flowers,” has been on display since mid-December of last year. “Sorry I’m late,” he says. After I assure him that he is right on the money, we sit in two black leather chairs that face his recent work while also providing us with a fitting view of the museum’s award-winning gardens and the St. Johns River. It is an ideal setting to speak with Draper, as his twin loves – painting and the outdoors – are both within sight of one another. Two iPads are placed on the table between us and a collection of hard-shell binders are stacked upright against the wall. The tablet computers contain copies of the digital publication which coincides with the exhibit; the spiral bound books feature dozens of photographs that Draper took during his many excursions into the natural world, the very source and place that feeds his work. The 25 recent paintings in the exhibit are large-scale oils that both celebrate the flora and fauna of Florida while also warning of their possible passing. The title “Feast of Flowers” is a translation of the Spanish “Pascua de Florida,” the name chosen by Ponce De Leon in 1513 when he and his fellow explorer-conquistadors “discovered” the very much already-inhabited land that became known as Florida. On this 500th anniversary of Ponce De Leon’s arrival, Draper explores these ideas of “feasting,” devouring, conquest and commodification throughout the exhibit.