"That's my middle-west -- not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns but the thrilling, returning trains of my youth... I am part of that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters, a little complacent from growing up in the Carraway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family's name. I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all..."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
This is an idea that's been brewing for a long time. I was always a bit hesitant to begin for some unknown reason, but now, after a month of considering different -- and unrelated -- topics from week to week, I feel like I'm finally ready. Ready to settle into one thing for a while. Ready to explore a subject that is both personal and broad. Ready to explore where I'm from, and this place where my ancestors -- so many of our ancestors -- chose to settle. Ready to walk down more main streets and drive down more country roads. Ready to capture small towns, like the one where I grew up, and the city where I live. Ready to look closely at things from the past, but also consider and embrace the present.
Coming out of a winter like we just experienced, you question what made our ancestors choose to settle here in the midwest, and in my case, in the upper midwest. It's a harsh place, and some may call the land uninspiring, monotonous, uninteresting. But there is also beauty in the open spaces, and there is something hopeful about the changing seasons and and the uninterrupted view of the land and sky. There is a constant cycle of change, which is sometimes good -- crops rotate, spring finally arrives, families grow -- and sometimes bad. Farms disappear and small towns become shells of their former selves. But yet here we still are.
F. Scott Fitzgerald called this place the middle west. And I'm going to take some time to explore it with paintings and photographs. This won't be a rigid thing with a specific number of paintings each week, but my plan is for it to still be consistent, while also allowing room for other things along the way. I don't know how long I'll stick with this subject, because frankly it could be something I do for the rest of my life or I could tire from it after only a few months. But it will be a consistent theme I come back to here, and whether you are from here or from far away, I hope you enjoy this peak into my view of the middle west.