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This painting, Ghost Wolf by artist Michael Grace fascinates me. It's the kind of a painting I feel lucky to have nabbed at the thrift store. The cookie-cutter horse silhouette and the crude drawing of the rider's face and the wolf's body provide the dull rationalization for some very the weird, anxious painting. The coordination of the horse's frantic markings with the lightning-bolt banks of the frozen stream are the kind of oddball stylistic inventions I adore. The use of a monochrome background shows rare restraint for an amateur. It's basically done with three tubes of paint: blue, brown and white, which is unusual anywhere.

Anxiety screams from evey jagged point. Is the horse jumping like a wolf, or is it jumping as if it were being pursued by a wolf? Or is the rider, dressed in a wolf-skin, imagining himself a leaping wolf?

From an art-historical standpoint, it's interesting that this is the first time I've seen an amateur knockoff of the popular "hidden animal" sub-genre of Western/Wildlife art, as practiced by artists like Bev Doolittle.

Bev Doolittle, Sentinel


 

Michael Grace uses the camouflage gimmick so poorly that his struggles give rise to an animated tension untterly lacking in Doolitttle's more polished work.

also by Bill Davenport
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4 Responses

  1. rainbird

    The ‘nabbing it at the thrift store’ part bothers me some and I’m not sure why. The painting seems to be valued more because of where it was found and for the fact that the writer recognizes the amateur status of the artist. I think Bill must think himself just a wee bit special for recognizing ‘the special-ness’ in that painting…and saving it. I hope he saved it… and took it home and put it someplace nice. I totally understand, which also bothers me some…. this need to save the undervalued and abandoned, to bring to the attention of others the insight that some of us/you possess. ( I wonder what sort of description would accompany that painting had it come from Yale?)

  2. grendel

    I find it disturbing that this is what Bill finds himself able to comment on, and yet is unable to educate himself about, and so dismisses, so many other kinds of art. We know all about Bill’s obvious interest in low-brow art, and how it snubs its low-brow nose at all things deemed conformist or unworthy by him. This just seems to be more of the same, so why expect any growth or wisdom from this uber-hip “arts” writer, posing as the arbiter of what’s cool since he himself is an outsider. Hey, if he really was accepted as a real arts writer, he might have to evaluate art through a lens other than his own. And yet, I’m sure he loves the discussion he has stirred (most assuredly by design), and is rolling in the stink he has raised. See? He is clever.

  3. hdmint

    I love this upper painting, especially the detail of the cloak worn by the wolf, in sheeps clothing perhaps? methinks! I own a Michael Grace painting myself and I hope this blog brings his work to the forefront of Contemporary Art.

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