Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eastern Shore Artist

“The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Occasionally, I will throw in a cat or two photo, and even a "me" or family photo. My cats always demand it, and some viewers like to know a little about the person on the other end of the blog. Ialways give my husband a spotlight on Veteran's Day.

I would like to take a moment to introduce my husband, a unique artist who moves people with his visionary art. Whether you call his art folk art, outsider art, or visionary art, it has a style of its own. Linda Anderson, who discovered Aurence in 1994, says of his art, “Aurence paints from the gut, very real and totally honest. I love his works. They just pull me in. There is absolutely nothing contrived about his paintings.”

Last week my husband was honored to be the guest artist at a private auction held at the Delmarva Discovery Center in Pocomoke. A few of his paintings are now offered for sale there.

A little background: My husband was a Marine doorgunner in Vietnam in 66-67, flying numerous combat missions. For you Marines, his Combat Aircrew Badge bears three silver stars (not silver Silver Stars, combat air crew silver stars-if you were in the military, you know what they mean), as noted on his citation. He received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained around the time he was to rotate back to the states. My husband joined the Marines on the buddy program with his high school friend Danny Dean McGee, who was killed in Vietnam. The two had played sports in high school together.

When Aurence began painting, he added fireballs and a white dog to each painting. Also, after signing his name, he painted a squiggly with two hatch-marks in the form of a "D" in honor of his fallen friend.

The icons are a very important part of his art. Collectors look for them. The fireballs, he calls, "Messages from Nam." The white dog, his most famous icon, came from a white dog, his name long lost to time, who used to hang around Aurence's hooch at Marble Mountain. The white dog was one of his many lucky charms.

Aurence sometimes adds a special Huey Helicopter, tail number 091, in his paintings, even in his non-Vietnam paintings. People who commission non-Vietnam paintings often request that he paint the now-famous Huey 091 in the skies.

In 2002, a film crew flew the helicopter into our backyard in Georgia, as part of a documentary. I believe I mentioned the documentary over Veteran's Day, so I will not bore you again with the details. For those of you who did not read the post, Aurence was asked to paint his famous icons, along with the POW emblem, on Huey 091 during the filming. The helicopter is now the largest item on display at the Price of Freedom exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It will be there for many years to come. As you go around the corner, if you peek up high enough, you will see a photo of Danny that Aurence pinned inside when he co-piloted the Huey at Quantico in 2004, one of its last stops before arriving at the National Mall.

Although Aurence's "memory" paintings of Vietnam are popular among collectors, they also cherish his rare "memory" paintings of his time growing up on a monastery in Georgia. In his early years, his family was poor; they were given shelter at the monastery for over a year where Aurence helped the monks with their daily chores. It was there that he garnered his love of pottery. Aurence also worked on a cattle farm and picked cotton and peaches before joining the Marines. Those years are also documented in his paintings.

Born in Pensecola, where his father was a Navy man, Aurence has always had a love of the water. Seascapes and bay scenes are favored by all of his collectors. He loves to walk around Crisifeld and the surrounding area, taking photos or using my photos as ideas for his art.

Oops.I fear I began to sound like a brochure several paragraphs back, so I will stop here and give you a little visual insight into the world of outsider art.

Aurence and Linda.

A mix of Vietnam and bay art on display at the Delmarva Discovery Center.

Numerous articles on Aurence and his art from various publications including the Atlanta Journal and VVA. I wrote the article for Georgia Magazine (shown center) - yes, I am a good writer when not on a deadline (blogs don't count). Above the magazine you will see Huey 091 after it landed at the National Mall. My husband is with the welcoming committee shown behind Huey 091.

A kind person took our photo.

A Vietnam painting.

One of our favorite places to visit - Clarence Town, Long Island. That's in the Bahamas, folks.

A memory painting from his cotton-picking days. An early piece in our private collection.

Many people commission Aurence to paint their homes or events from their lives. This was painted for a collector who built a vacation cabin in the woods.

Our river cruise down the Rhine inspired Aurence to paint this colorful scene.

Small Boat Harbor in Crisfield.

A local scene. Sorry. I shot it without a flash.

Aurence's icon artwork as it appears on Huey 091 at the Price of Freedom Exhibit. He is mighty proud of that. White Dog, still on watch - protecting, and his friend forever a part of Huey 091.

Oh, if you are in the area, take a drive over to the Delmarva Discovery Center on the Pocomoke River, and get a taste of how life used to be on the Eastern Shore. The exhibits include Native American culture, river ecology, an aquarium, touch tanks, early trade, the Steamship era, shipbuilding, market hunting, the history of commercial fishing on the bay, decoy carving and sailing.

The great thing about living in Crisfiled is that we are not far from a variety of places to visit and things to do. You want mountains? Just a few hours away. You want the ocean? You are there in an hour. And everywhere in-between, you will find little jewels to pick up and play with. And coming home is always the best part.

All you art collectors, be sure and put Crisfield on your list if you are looking for unique art. We have some wonderful artists in the area. I hope to highlight some in the near future(Terri, you are next). It's the time thing, you know? Blogging is fun, but the pay ain't' so good.

There is no must in art because art is free.” ~ Wassily Kandinsky

A big "Thanks" to Linda and Rico. It was fun.


Ann said...

what a vibrant artist, all that colour.

Chef E said...

wow you two look like an artist couple...I always thought I might marry an artist or chef, but we are a good balance...

Beautiful work! Beautiful! feel like writing it over and over...

Barry said...

Just an amazing post Patty. Aurence's paintings are extraordinary and so vibrant they are a celebration of life.

You've posted copies of his work before but learning more of his background and the honors he has received deepened my appreciation.

It was great to see a photo of you as well.

J9 said...

Wow, what a hugely talented couple you are! I really like Aurence's art!

Si's blog said...

Great blog entry. Really interesting.

I was of an age to miss both Korea and Vietnam. Cold War Navy. Glad of that. do not think I would have done well.

Bagman and Butler said...

Ah, Patty -- this might be my favorite of all your posts! You are I are synched this week, sharing the greatness in our lives with the world. Thank you so much for introducing us to Aurence. Knowing his background adds a personal element and insight to his work -- although it absolutely stands alone without it. I loved each and every painting and spent a long time on this post, going back and forth and looking at each one. You are married to a great man and a great artis.

Marilyn said...

Oh Patty.... Your husband is a very talented man. I am certainly no art expert but I would consider this style folk art. Nevertheless it is rare to be able to "paint your memories". After what he went through in Vietnam it probably proves still to be a good outlet!!
Thank you so much for sharing....
Happy Holidays!

Linda said...

I love the expressive use of color, movement and detail in Aurence's work. His canvases sparkle with life! I can see the wind in some paintings, reflections in others and community respect in all of them. I think you could own an Aurence painting for years and notice something you hadn't noticed before. A beautiful blog tribute, Patty. It is so full of life and love. Thank you both for sharing. One of your best shoots, dear Patty.