Longyear Gallery, Margaretville, NY opened a new show last week, with the reception on Saturday night. I exhibited my “Lady Madonna, Children At Your Feet” to the seeming delight of so many people there. I have not shown an oil painting at Longyear for many months though I had shown this and others in two shows over the summer. “Madonna” was painted two years ago and while it was still wet my husband had confiscated it for his office in Massachusetts. Literally, no one locally had seen it and those who viewed it Saturday night were enchanted; I was stunned and delighted by the reception.
Several years ago as I got into our truck the Beatles “Lady Madonna” was blaring from the cd player. I was singing along when it suddenly occurred to me. “I could paint that“. All my sketches of children, an adoring mother, the little child throwing a tantrum at the museum–I could see it all. I began as soon as I returned from my errand.
What interests me now is that my conception of the madonna or mother image, has evolved all the way from sappy through ferocious to grief. See the sketches and painting images in the Flikr lineup to the right. Starting at the bottom and go to the top–big change! Of course, this is nothing more than the mother’s view of motherhood that changes from that first moment to years and children later. Motherhood is so much more complicated than the calm Mary with a dimpled, happy and WISE looking baby Jesus bouncing in her lap. Mary as a figure would be so much more interesting to me if the, most often, male artists depicted her showing fatigue or frustration.
The initial sketch, from which all my Madonna paintings flow is of my own daughter a few days after the birth of her first born. I remember first hand how the realization of the irreversible impact of children on your life dawns on the mother, the agony and the ecstasy.