Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

The Other Day…
January 12, 2013, 9:42 AM
Filed under: art, Confessions, Paintings -Inspiration, Paintings-stories | Tags:


Back in the days when I was an undergraduate studying art at Chico State University I did a series of three mixed media paintings on paper that I called “The Other Day…”  I used watercolor and gesso and some kind of resist, which, at the moment,  my memory resists bringing to the forefront.  I developed the concept for these paintings in a watercolor class taught by my favorite instructor, Ann Pierce.

One semester her class, usually full of  female students, included two young guys. Working close enough to their table to hear them talking among themselves, I overheard one guy say to the other, “You know, if there weren’t guys like us, there wouldn’t be guys like us.”

I laughed out loud. I immediately thought, Now isn’t that just like a guy! An ego as powerful as God’s peeking through and taking responsibility for the whole damn (male) human race. No matter the woman’s role! A couple of guys thinking they were god’s gift to humanity. And yet I thought, Yes of course! It’s so true. We couldn’t have men like them, and women like me, if man had not come together with woman to procreate. And only a man would have enough hubris to think he was the only source of that creation!

The content of this series is the absurdity of their statement and yet the absolute truth of it.  I was clearly dumbfounded by their conversation and couldn’t resist using their words in my painting process, so I incorporated some of the text in each painting. The meaning of these works is not obvious, but that didn’t matter to me. I knew the story. I enjoy the contrast of visible text in artwork as part of the design and surface texture, whether or not it is legible or the meaning of it is clearly understood. 

A few weeks ago I began rereading, again, one of my favorite books, Art & Physics, Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light, by Leonard Shlain (1991)In it he explores the idea that much of art, particularly visual arts, down through the ages explores and/or reveals many of the basic  ideas subsequently discovered in the science of physics.  According to Shlain, there is a binary or complimentary relationship between art and physics, such as with Mind and Universe. Art is subjective and physics has not been, at least until the 20th century.


I write this because, in the very first chapter Shlain quoted something from the Talmud that struck a chord with me and added a whole new dimension to the series I call “The other day…” as seen above, although I didn’t read Shlain’s book until after I did these three paintings in 1991-1992.  It was one of those Ah Ha moments for me.

Shlain writes, “According to John Wheeler, (student of Niels Bohr) Mind and Universe are inextricably integrated. The Talmud expresses this subtle relationship in an apocryphal story of a dialogue between God and Abraham. God begins by chiding Abraham, ‘If it wasn’t for Me, you wouldn’t exist.’ And after a moment of thoughtful reflection, Abraham respectfully replies, ‘Yes, Lord, and for that I am very appreciative and grateful. However, if it wasn’t for me, You wouldn’t be known.’ 

You’re probably familiar with the adage, “Behind every great man there is a great woman”? Or in other words, there is a woman who makes his achievements possible, who makes him known, who provides the egg without which his sperm cannot become a guy like himself. And don’t most women feel powerful in achieving this incredible feat?

7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Susan, your latest writing has stretched my brain~ which is a good thing! Thanks for the stimulation. Much to think about.

Comment by Jan W.

Hurrah! the thing did work Jan. Thanks for trying it again. I have that book if you want to read it. It stretches my brain every time I read it!! Learn something new every time.

Comment by Susan Canavarro

rich, textural images

Comment by Geo Sans

Took a look at your blog. The textured surface of your photos is exciting, I like texture!! Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Susan Canavarro

thank you too

Comment by Geo Sans

Susan, you write so well about these things. Gordon Wood, who did the cover for Terminal Weird, is in your tribe about mind and universe. This is a good post. Keep on crackin’…

Comment by Jack Remick

Aw shucks! Some improvement in writing I guess. Thanks Jack.

Comment by Susan Canavarro

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: