Do you know the way to Ed Ruscha?
Trolling around for art the other day, I found this Ed Ruscha painting. To me, a newspaper reporter, it’s full of symbolism about the freshness of each morning and looking for golden joy in the world and the empty whiteness of a blank page.
And then I fell down the Ed Ruscha rabbit hole, and discovered it a mighty brilliant place to be. Ruscha is a contemporary artist who lives near LA — a photographer and a painter who shares my penchant for the beauty and insousiance of words.
Ed explains this one in an interview with Eklextx:
“I grew up in the Bible Belt, the Dust Bowl, and I felt it was the perfect name for that part of the country – for someone to name a girl Styrene. I never heard of it. I just made it up.”
I could try to explain to you why I love these so, but I couldn’t explain it to myself. Peter Schjeldahl inThe New Yorker, as ever, does it best:
Ruscha’s paintings are “a tantalizing standoff, in the brain, between looking and reading.You can’t look at a word and read it at the same time, any more than you can simultaneously kneel and jump. You may think you can, because the toggle between the two mental operations is so fast. Graphic advertisers play that switch back and forth. Ruscha learned to freeze it in mid-throw, causing a helpless, not unpleasant buzz at the controls of consciousness.”
Most of his work is just sold as $$$$ prints, but you can find this card at the Tate Modern in London.
We have this painting here, in the Katz contemporary wing of the Phoenix Art Museum.
More of my favorites:
And finally, evoking the flickering end of an old film, Ruscha’s version of “the end,” which I’m smitten with, particularly because you see the image reflected twice — a hint that the end is never really where you think it is, and often a fluid thing.