Hopper's View, Joel C. Sheesley

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Hopper’s View


Edward Hopper (1882—1967)

American Landscape, 1920


It is hard to say whether I chose Edward hopper’s 1920 etching, American Landscape, as the reference for my lithograph, Hopper’s View, or whether I chose Edward Hopper’s way of seeing things first and then found this etching of his in the National Gallery as an apt example.  But did I “choose” Hopper’s way of seeing things?  At times I think his way of seeing things chose me. 

When I walked into my friends’ unfurnished new condo and looked past their lonely hanging light fixture and out their bay window to see the railroad tracks, and this row of arborvitae casting their long shadows toward the tracks, what could I think but EDWARD HOPPER!  Light and long shadows, bay windows, train tracks, light fixtures, the scrubby edge of a woods. These are all subjects from which Hopper made numerous paintings.

There is often a “right-on” but slightly “off” feel to Hopper’s work.  I think of it as resulting from his attempt to present the feeling of direct experience – what happens when you try to respond to what you see while standing on your feet.  He risks a somewhat unvarnished presentation in order to confront and bring home the big thing that he saw in the subject.  And that big thing is often awkwardly beautiful.

So I stood there in that room trying to draw and draw through a very complicated bay window.  Alas, I only had Hopper’s clumsiness at my disposal, I never came close to the deftness of his hand.

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