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Sunday, January 1, 2017

January Paintings

The Rose Bowl, Ken Goldman
Let me be about the thirty-third person today to wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Inasmuch as it's resolution time, I thought this year I'd make mine to present here, once a month, a group of paintings having to do specifically with that particular month. It'll kind of a calendar without the distracting grid of dates. I've always thought that publishers tend to ruin perfectly good calendars by injecting all those numbers and cluttering up the artwork. In my search for January paintings I went looking for a painting of some figure suffering a hangover from an excess of New Year's Eve cheer. Alas, I couldn't find anything that I liked. So instead, I've included a painting by California artist, Ken Goldman of the Rose Bowl (above). What could be more January than college football? (January 2, this year).
Inauguration Eve, G. Harvey. Though it looks like January, this is
probably a poor choice for this month in that the means and modes
of transportation seems to involve horses. January 20, didn't
become Inauguration Day until 1937. Until then it was in March.
Martin Luther King Jr.,
2013, Derek Russell
Two other major holidays fall in January--this year, inauguration day--and every year Mar-tin Luther King Jr's birthday. Though he was born on January 15, 1929, his official national holiday birthday is on the 16th (the 15th falls on a Sunday).

Snowboard Psyched,
Hanne Lore Koehler
And just as we have national holidays, we also have local holidays celebrated mostly by kids and their school teachers. We call them Snow Days! And speaking of snow, when artists set about painting January, this fluffy white stuff would appear to be God's way of hiding the dull, drab, deadness of these darkest days of the year. Despite all that, and notwith-standing the sparkling freshness of spring, nor the fiery, rich colors of autumn, the snowy January landscape has a frozen, white, virginal beauty that, to me at least, is unmatched by that of any other time of the year. Utah watercolorist, Roland Lee (below) captures it perfectly.

Winter Snow, Roland Lee
I suppose it might be said that snow is a subject that only an artist could love. They've certainly painted it pretty consistently for hundreds of years. Naturally, the ones who do it best are those of the northern hemisphere, Canada, the Baltic countries, Poland, and Russia. Skating on the Banks of a Frozen River (below), by Jan Wildens, dates from the early 17th-century. Though my source doesn't say, I'm guessing the artist was Dutch.

Skating on the Banks of a Frozen River,
early 17th-century, Jan Wildens.
Perhaps because the British seldom get as much snow as the rest of us, they have a tendency to depict it in a more lighthearted manner as seen in the color etching (below) featuring figures probably from the early 1800s, at a time when apparently only men skated on thin ice. However, having said that, the skater on the right with his delicate, dancing pose and slender, effeminate figure, may indicate that women sometimes dressed as men in order to secretly enjoy this wintertime sport.

The British depiction of January.
As for my own take on January, one of my favorites has always been the painting I call General Merchandise (below). At first glance one might think the title derived from the sign on the old country store, but in fact, General Merchandise is the name of the horse.

Copyright, Jim Lane
General Merchandise, 1980s, Jim Lane
And finally, what tribute to the month of January would be complete without an artist's rendering of our new president-elect as she tries out the fit and feel of the furniture in her new office. Inasmuch as I'll be on vacation when you read this, and I'm writing in mid-October, some three weeks before the election, like the artist, Ron Keas, I'm going somewhat "out on a limb." But that's what artists do--take risks. As for all the bitter Trump supporters, the cartoon at the bottom was chosen to give them equal time--

The Oval Office, (presumably painted in 2016), Ron Keas
That's the good old American spirit!


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