——-Posted by Tom Gardner————-
I guess I’m fascinated by the Amish. How they can live side by side in this world and stand by their convictions without wavering. I remember talking to an Amish fellow in Lancaster, PA., years ago. We were out by his barn and somewhere in something I had said, I must have inferred that they were out of touch with our world. He said, “Oh, we know who Mozart was and are farmiliar with his music, and the Beatles too ! We know whats on the news and the wars America is involved in, and yes, we do know about all the latest electronic gadgets that are out there, too. We just don’t care to take part in them for the most part, where does it get you ?”
This conversation is never far from the front of my mind.
WhenI was in Valparaiso, Chile last year, I kept seeing graffiti which was obviously by the same artist. I was so impressed by them that I took a lot of fotos and was determined to use them in a painting, someway, somehow. So as I started painting one of them, I realized how well they were done, considering they were half a block long and over 10 feet tall, done with a can of spray paint, on a step ladder. It was so urban- American influenced, but well thought out and executed, that I had to admire the mind that did them. So as I worked on it, in the early stages, I kept thinking of how someone from the opposite end of the social spectrum might react to them, lets say the Amish. In conversations I’ve had with some Amish folks I’ve worked with ( in Sugarcreek, Ohio,at the brick factory, while making the brick sculpture for the Rt. 86 project) I know that they are very aware of the American saga playing out on the evening news each night. Although they appear to come from another century, don’t ever think they aren’t up on the latest trends and global goings-on. So there, as Gary Myers observed, the juxtaposition was set,all I had to do was paint the darn thing. All I was wondering is what would happen if these to worlds were to brush by each other. I can’t answer that.
So when I saw the graffiti on the walls of Valparaiso, Chile, the question simply leapt forwar: how would an Amish person react to this? Forget that it’s 10 hours flight time (at 600 mph ), due south of here, in the same time zone we are in, except nearly on the other end of this planet. So I set about to see. I can only wonder what effect ( no, impact )that extrodinary image may be having. I remember running into 4 or 5 young Amish folks in Watkins Glen once and they were ecstatic over the thought that “Gawd”s own hand has made such a beautiful and vonderous places as thees!” one of them exclaimed to me in his German accent. Well, that was an easy reaction to expect, Watkins Glen will do that to you, but what about this graffiti ? Hell, I can’t decypher that image, much less penetrate the meaning (if there is one ) of it.
But as I tried to reproduce that particular work, I realized what a beautiful mind it was that concieved it and THEN PAINTED IT, 10 FEET TALL, ON A WALL, WITH SPRAY CANS OF PAINT, FROM A STEP LADDER !!! Forget the message, just the ability to do such a thing staggers me. It has to impress you on some level.
The first girl just drives by, ……the second…..looks