Saturday, December 01, 2007

Scott MacLeod Drawings 1960-1962: Part 9: Something Like Paradise?

Good Morning Birds, 1962

This will be the last North Oakland Temporary Museum exhibit for awhile. These exhibits take more work than you might realize. Curatorial staff (me) is burned out. Everything I originally wanted to show has been shown & can still be seen by scrolling to the bottom of this page & clicking the links to past shows. I'm sure that I'll find other things I want to show, and in fact there are some new things available to me, but I just don't have the time right now. This is, after all, a "Temporary" museum.

I saved this show for last because it is a sweet show & I wanted to leave you all with good feelings. In many ways these drawings represent the world I thought I was going to grow up into, while October's "Existential & Familial" show was more about the world I did grow up into. Without insinuating any regrets, I did want to reverse these last two shows & present the expectations after the realities. I don't think I need to explain myself beyond that.


sThree Kids Playing, 1961

Every time I look at the v-shaped birds I used to draw, I think of Van Gogh. Here they wheel above children enjoying their halcyon environment & its appurtenances: sunshine & ice cream. Is that a strawberry cone or a bouquet of flowers for the young lady skipping rope? Puberty is along way away, but the earth's fecundity is apparent all around.

Skipping Rope Park, 1961

Back then we didn't know that lost balloons kill aquatic birds. But at least the kids are getting exercise. When I was 6-12 years old, I'd play football, baseball, cowboys & indians and other war games all over the neighborhood until the streetlights came. And we didn't wear bicycle helmets.

Skip, Kite & Birds, 1962

I was never a rope-skipper, wasn't good at it, and can't remember hanging around with any rope-skippers. Looking at the drawings in this post, you'd think I had a thing for rope-skipping girls. Maybe I did, but I don't remember it. I went to Catholic schools, here in Djakarta where these were drawn, and later in Virginia, until 8th grade when I went to public school, so I did imprint on those plaid uniform skirts. In elementary school I had crushes on Bonnie Shipe, Elise Quasebarth & Meridee Orndoff.


Mom Waves Goodbye, 1962

Mom seems to be waving goodbye to her daughter, who's staying at home alone. There must be something else to this story but I don't know what it is. I could invent interpretations but hey so can you. It's funny how those birds are so innocuous here & so ominous in Van Gogh. Anyway this drawing is one of my more dynamic, design-wise.

Tree, Sun, People & Dog, 1962

There's something I find fascinating about abject drawings of the sun. I bet the sun is the first thing that a human tried to draw, and the first object that a child tries to draw. And for both, possibly the first experience of coming up against the complete impossibility of representing reality. I think everyone comes very quickly to the understanding that the sun is unrepresentable, and that this is a lesson that infiltrates our subconscious completely, informing everything we experience, and yet is pretty quickly consiously forgotten. But I think we all appreciate a drawing of the sun more the cruder it is.

Even without the sun, this would be a pretty interesting & dynamic picture, with all the inter-linked characters (and the off-camera one.)

The Shop, 1962

You can't buy love but you can buy just about everything else. This was 1962 and things were still looking pretty good for Americans.


Mountain Cabin, 1961

I think that the only mountain cabin I might have seen at this age would have been the one in Sirnagaleh, Indonesia. This drawing was done in 1961 & the earliest I might have been to Sirnagaleh was early autumn of 1961. And Sirnagaleh is not known for redwood trees. Here are two photos of Sirnegaleh that Brian Walsh sent to me. Brian & his family lived very close to me in Djakarta, at more or less the same time. He was a couple years older. We didn't know each other then but connected recently via internet. His family also vacationed in Sirnegaleh but in a different cabin. But pretty close to the cabin I went to. Anyway these photos are from him & were taken in roughly the same era in which I made my drawings:

Sirnegaleh view

Cabin "Carioca D," Sirnegaleh

This drawing of mine seems pretty clearly a picture of a northern climate, so I'm not sure where this imagery comes from. Some movie, I suppose. I don't think I'd seen much television yet. Just some Garfield Goose with Clutch Cargo & Scott McCloud, Space Angel at my grandparents' house in Chicago.

In any case this is an early version of a scene I drew many many times again & which takes up an inordinate amount of space in my imagination: the isolated mountain cabin hideaway. The later drawings on this theme, all of which I am pretty sure have been destroyed, omitted the rollicking adventures of this drawing's native americans & bush pilots. The mountain hideaway of my imagination is just that: a hideaway, a place of retreat & refuge, a safe house. I have a lot to say about this, but here is not the place & now is not the time. (ps. cool sun)

Village Life, 1961

This one has a strangely rectangular formation of v-shaped birds in flight, a mediocre sun & combines elements from Currier & Ives, Norman Rockwell & Dutch landscape painting. There is a lot going on in the drawing but all pretty mundane activities. This reminds me of living in Virginia, specifically of Virgina summers. I am getting sleepy & a little bored just looking at it.

Forest Dinner With Birds, 1962

Looks like mom's back with a gorgeful of worms & grubs. Even the sun is singing with joy.


Sandcastle & Speedboat, 1960

Superficially inocuous & lazy, this drawing nonetheless makes me think of Meursault on the beach. (Where's the sun?)

Blue Ocean Beach Scene, 1962

This drawing has really grown on me. Its composition is kind of dynamic, it has a Basquiat-like quality. I like the contrasts between the blue, the black & the white. A Chinese junk, a battleship, fishermen, coconut trees & a netless beach volleyball game: what's not to like?


Dark Red Butterfly, 1962

Tropical Fruit, 1962

Regina Pacis, the Catholic elementary school I went to Djakarta, gave us religious workbooks. This drawing of typical Indonesian fruits is similar to this page from one of those workbooks:

Bears With Umbrellas, 1962

This picture of two bears in the rain makes me happy. Seems like a nice picture to leave you with.