The Ghost of Tom Joad image 1
I am painting this Bruce Springsteen song because I like the music and the words. The name in the title ‘Tom Joad,’ comes from the main character in the book Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck that is set during the Depression. Springsteen updates the struggles of Tom Joad through his ghost. He expressed his feelings for this music at a Madison Square Garden Concert in 2009, “…..If Woody Guthrie were alive today, he would have a lot to write about, high times on Wall Street, and hard times on Main Street.” This music is still relevant today, with the worker that punches in struggling to stay in middle class, still believing that hard work, with determination, and effort will result in success, and a prosperous life. Bruce might have said it best about the American Dream in his music, “Is that you baby, or just a brilliant disguise.”
The Ghost of Tom Joad started out as a simple single canvas artwork 20 inches by 40 inches, which was chosen for it is a nice standard rectangle artwork they would be easy to frame. The first image shows that rectangle with blends of Burnt Sienna and some basic striping. Soon after I realize that the way I had mapped the music left little room for the words. All I could picture was a crowding of words, and music in small parts of this work, while leaving large expanses of canvas with little interest. I also could not avoid the inescapable conclusion which was that this canvas looked boring. It looked like I was trying to cut corners. I am thinking I, at first, wanted to speed up the process of creating that was so drawn out with Fine & Mellow. I halted that thinking, and that is what you see in image two.
Here is another version of this great Bruce Springsteen song:
I have painted, in the past, a few other protest songs. Two early, earlier, works are For What its Worth, and Fortunate Son. These two artworks represent the sixties, Madison Wisconsin, and Vietnam.
For What’s it Worth:
I received an Interesting comment about this work. A long time ago I was using an image of Fortunate Son as my background on my computer, when another worker saw my screen and commented that it look like a picture of a watermelon with seeds. No no, I said, but to this day I am still surprised that Fortunate Son has not sold considering that it appeals to not only the artsy elite but to the food crowd.Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, is a small early later work. This one was to protest our invasion of Iraq.
Since The Ghost of Tom Joad is also a small work, next up I am going to push my technique of spreading different layers of color to see what look I can create. Also, if I can figure out, what I want to try is paint dripping. This is going to be an experimental work, that I am not in a rush to complete, for things are bound not to go right the first time.
Scott Von Holzen