Widow’s Walk (Leviathan)

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June 8, 2014 by smithartonline

Widow's Walk Mixed media on paper 15 X 22 inches

Widow’s Walk
Mixed media on paper
15 X 22 inches


I am producing a series of works, which I call my “Widow’s Walk Series.” The widow’s walk was common in early whaling days in the United States. Popular myth says it is a railed area on the peak of a roof for people to observe the ocean in hopes of seeing a whaler coming into port after a long voyage. Since the wives of the whalers generally used this, it became know as the widow’s walk. The truth is less romantic, it is a popular Italianate style of architecture…but it makes for a good story.

I went through a phase years ago where I employed an old European Renaissance tradition of displaying figures in pairs reflecting the same pose opposite each other. ( A good example of this can be seen in Antonio del Pollaiolo’s Battle of Nude Men and his Martyrdom of Saint Sebastion. Another more contemporary example can be seen in the opening moments of Akira Kurosawa’s movie Ran. ) In this piece I present the same figures utilizing this system, with the patterning and coloring as opposites – black line over blue and blue line over black. The figures may be read as two different individuals or as one reflecting itself. The viewer is left to decide which is true.

The whales are, like the female figures, reflected and reversed. The same patterning and coloring is used with them as with the human forms. Again, it is up to the viewer to decide the relationship between the whales and the human figures…I might hint that they are all bound in similar fashion, indicated with silver Dutch gilding…just a hint from the artist.

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