It is great because I have an aunt and cousins who live in my hometown. During this visit I was keen to go down and visit them, but also walk around the little town of Dividing Creek, NJ. This is really something that I never did. I went on bike rides but never just walked through town. I really didn´t have much to do with town except for going to church and driving through to get out of town. It was always a 20 to 30 minute ride to get anywhere worth getting to. Now after being away for over 20 years, I had a real urge to go home, not just to my parents house which they moved to 10 years ago, but to my hometown.
parked the car at my aunt's house and my cousin armed me with bug spray
because she was sure I would be eaten alive. I set off with my camera,
sketchbook, and a bottle of water. Those nasty green eyed stinging
flies known as green-heads to South Jersey locals, were bouncing off of
me like crazy... I thought I ought to invest money in this bug spray
company because they weren't biting. I wandered around the town trying
to remember who lived where and was in awe of the condition of some of
the buildings and more so of the fact that they were still standing.
Some places were abandoned when I was a kid.
took lots of photos of natural scenes and some of groupings of houses
and buildings. I had painted the Dividing Creek bridge as a child.
Later I took photos of signs on the bridge and made a painting while
living in Leipzig, Germany. That was also a time when I was feeling
quite like reestablishing a connection to home. I found the spot where I
must have made those photos from before. The signs have since changed
but the message was still the same- condemning anyone for stopping or
standing, swimming or fishing, and now you couldn't even use bad
language! I remember when these signs eliminated any signs of life on
every bridge in town. I am sure the mayor at the time, who owned one of
the boat renting crabbing businesses, saw the weekend crabbers on the
bridges more as a business loss than a traffic hindrance.
crossed the Dividing Creek bridge and headed down to Dragston Road
where the house that I grew up in is now the home of the neighbor's
daughter. Most things looked the same but some things seemed completely
different. I left her and her parents postcards in their mailboxes.
Mainly to say hi, but also to let them know that I was the weirdo that
was taking pictures of their houses. A few cars suspiciously slowed
down as they passed me standing along the road with my camera. Snapping
photos while walking along small town roads seemed to make many people
uneasy. I was lucky to be carrying postcards for recently past
exhibitions in order to explain that I was a painter looking for
inspiration for sketches and paintings.
until now, I have not looked through the photos I took on that walk
through my hometown. Shame it was just about impossible to even think
about standing still let alone sit and sketch with all those bugs.
Another cousin I met on this walk spoke wisely when he said that the
folks who live there can't wish away the bugs or they would be chased
out by tourists and fancy resorts. The bugs are the sole reason for
people not to come in and turn the place into a sort of popular fishing
and crabbing resort, if there is such a thing. I hope to use some of
the locations in paintings that visually introduce the beginnings of an
odd narrative or romantically depict the ordinary. I thought a lot
about the local artists who visit these small towns regularly to paint
or make photographs. I thought it would be interesting to try and meet a
few. So that is just what I did.