November 16, 2017 3 min read
Doug Lew is featured in our video workshop: Painting Motion in Watercolor with Doug Lew
We contacted Doug Lew, recently, and asked him for some recent images and thoughts about his art. Here is what he sent back.
Paintings of pollution comments by Doug Lew
“Twilight of the Gods”
When I first began to think about the project the most immediate picture that came to mind was what struck me when we first moved to Los Angeles in 1968. I was inching along slowly on a multi-lane Los Angeles freeway in heavy stop-and-go traffic. All I saw were the red tail-lights of cars lined up ahead of me slowly disappearing into the smog. My heart sank with a chill and I wished I were back in the Midwest, (Columbus, Ohio) where smog was then hardly noticeable in the city. The sight made such an indelible picture in my mind it stayed with me all the years since.
I knew what I had to put down in paint, I also knew what I wanted to say in the title. “Gotterdammerung” or “ Twilight of the Gods” from Wagner’s opera “The Ring of the Niebelung” which dealt with the death of the gods. I thought it was fitting to borrow that term in this metaphor, that despite all the magic of human ingenuity we seem to be helpless as we march willy-nilly into oblivion.
“ Planet Earth…It’s Worth Saving”
Since this is also an art exhibit I was conscious of the obligation to strive and portray the subject with as much aesthetic consideration as possible. Short of that, at least to give the paintings some impact, some drama. I don’t think it’s enough just to show beautiful landscapes without an inference to the purpose of the exhibit; nor to let the political, social, historic and danger of the message overpower the painting.
That’s why I offer this additional painting of the beauty of the earth as a contrast and reminder of the preciousness and perils of our wonderful and fragile dwelling place, the planet earth…it’s worth saving.”
I have done a similar kind of painting problem before but on a different subject. It showed a group of modern day Indians on horseback braving the cold and snow riding to the site of the massacre to commemorate the incident referred to as the Wounded knee Massacre”
On December 29, 1890, on Wounded Knee Creek in Southwestern South Dakota, a tangle of events resulted in the deaths of more than 250, and possibly 300 native Americans. These people, including many women and children were mainly of the Miniconjou band of the Lakota Sioux Indians, they fled the South Dakota reservation for lack of food and clothing. They were guilty of no crime and were not engaged in combat, they fled only to seek refuge in the Badlands. The soldiers intercepted them and tried to force them to return to a new reservation. They refused and fighting broke out. Wounded Knee became and remains a potent symbol in the history of the treatment of Native Indians by the US government policy.
The title of the painting was “100 years Anniversary of Wounded Knee”, painted in 1990. I tried to depict the incident with authentic details and I also tried to give, as much as much as I could, the elements and principles of a good panting. I did four versions of the painting, all in full-sheet size, one of them sits in the City Hall of Pierre, the capital of South Dakota.
I have seen too many art exhibits where the message, whether social, political and religious overpowered art…two exhibits came to mind: The Martin Luther Exhibit by the Minneapolis Art Institute where the historic and religious significance simply overpowered any artistic merit. Another one by The Walker Art Museum showing the scaffold on which 38 native Indians were executed. The incident was tragic but the scaffold, as a piece of fine art, was to me, dubious and, at best, debatable. The local Indians objected to the idea of displaying it in the museum’s sculpture garden. It has since been dismantled.
OTHER INDIAN PAINTINGS
MORE RECENT WORKS by DOUG LEW
Locked in or Locked open by Doug Lew
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