SUSANNA BLUHM – The Wedding Party, 2015
oil and acrylic on canvas

Susanna Bluhm, The Wedding Party, 2015

Last summer my uncle mowed a spiral in his field in rural Washington and married his husband in the center of it, surrounded by loved ones with a lot of balloons and some Brazilian drummers. Just a few weeks before, my wife’s and my eleven-year-old Canadian marriage license was recognized as legal and valid in our own country when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality across all fifty states.

These paintings are a celebration of love, life and justice.

As semi-abstract landscape paintings they are anchored in a physical environment, while also suggesting a new “painting” environment. Their specific landscape is Acme, Washington, a rural town two hours northeast of Seattle. On the day of my uncle’s wedding, this rural American landscape was claimed as a meaningful part of the day. The less recognizable, more abstract elements could suggest that a new environment is being created, with its meanings generated by the act of looking. There might be evidence of sensations that might happen in a place, such as weather, touch, temperature, sex, or noise. Abstract marks interact with more recognizable shapes, and a kind of narrative ensues.

Painting in this way is, for me, a three-pronged effort. I am considering what it means to be a part of this landscape, and on this occasion. I am trying to spend more time in this place by painting it. I’m using paint to not only portray my love (i.e. the landscape) but to make physical contact again. In this intimate way, the paintings explore landscape as a lover and loved one, enmeshed with the paint, and without the safe distance usually afforded by the sublime in traditional Western landscape painting.

I think of both painting and looking as pleasureful experiences.