Jim’s epic journey

Jim Mott recently returned from what had to be his longest itinerant painting project, spending months on the road, and driving across the country, nearly coast-to-coast, and back again. He had lined up homes where he could stay, in exchange for paintings, all along the way, in his usual mode. This time he stayed with some interesting people, and picked spots in a canny way: Ferguson, Missouri, for obvious reasons, and Ojai, California, where Krishnamurti lectured and where the Krishnamurti Foundation is now located. Jim and I spent several hours talking about his trip and going through a stack of paintings he did on the road: I’ll do a post on it when I have the time. He stayed with people like Theo Gray, in Urbana, a fellow who created a fresh and imaginative book on the elements, and he had arranged to stay with Mick Fleetwood’s daughter, in California, but instead had a meal with her. More to come. Here are Jim’s comments on the paintings. The first one of Urbana brings back strong memories of graduate school there when I used to walk from my apartment along these streets to get to my office at the University of Illinois:
The first one is from Stop #2, Urbana, IL, where I was hosted by Theo Gray. He was one of the last hosts on my 1st tour in 2000 (my only longer tour – 11 weeks), and I was happy to reconnect. He said that one thing he really liked about Urbana was the tree-lined residential streets and the canopy of leaves. I did two paintings of tree-lined streets, and he got the better one. He has not yet sent me the scan he promised, so this is not the better one (later note: all the other images are scans. attached is a photo I found of the other Urbana street scene). But on my first tour he spent most of one day photographing all the paintings I’d done on the tour – about 100. He said it would be terrible if something happened to me on the drive back to NY and they weren’t documented.
The rest are from St. Louis. The first two depict scenes around Ferguson.  The third is an unfinished study; a painting I haven’t finished. The car belonged to a female friend of Michael Brown and had messages of outrage, grief, defiance, and despair written all over it with multi colored paint sticks (I think). The cross sketched in white paint that divides the panel in quarters was a composing device but I just noticed it resembles cross-hairs. Hmmm. The 4 year old boy in the car was the only person in Ferguson who said hi to me, but not the only one I talked with. Ironically I was staying on the other side of town when I did the Ferguson paintings. My St Louis hosts had one of Theo Gray’s periodic table posters proudly displayed on their wall but had no idea who he was.
And this was the start of a trip blog that I never followed through on: http://jimmott2015.blogspot.com/ The project seems perfect for blogging, except that I find the degree of immersion and attention required for getting to know new people and paint new places does not leave much room for standing back and reporting on the experience.
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