Turning Point
48" x 96"
acrylic on canvas
Private Collection, Houston, Texas
Bering & James, Houston, Texas, Filament, November 8 - 24, 2008

At first glance Turning Point might seems like a history study of the 60's in America.  The dominant elements of Marilyn Monroe and the Saturn V rocket launch would make that a pretty good first reading.  This work is not an investigation of history at all. 

The first and most accessible element is the title.  A turning point is literally a point of revolution.  My work tends to walk a fine line between the actual meaning of a title or image and the underlying implications.  The center of the work is the turning point.  Lines surround the center and rotate throughout the painting.  There's an actual rotation or turning.

This work is an investigation of a singular moment of change.  There are a lot of different kinds of change in the world.  Some are historical, some personal. 

Let's start with Marilyn Monroe on the left side of the canvas.  She is instantly recognizable as a movie star and celebrity.  More than that, she has over time transcended the very concept of movie stardom.  Most people will recognize Marilyn immediately, even if they have never seen one of her films.  She has become something greater than the sum of her career.  She has become an icon. 

But she wasn't always Marilyn Monroe.  She was Norma Jean Baker.  There is a personal aspect to the idea of changing one's identity so entirely that people forget that Norma Jean ever existed.  So there's the first turning point.  The second for Marilyn actually comes after her death and continues even today.  She has become more than Marilyn Monroe, she is simply Marilyn.  An idea, not a woman or a movie star.  That's the second turning point. 

So in this instance, a person become something greater and then evolves beyond that to an abstract. 

The second major element is the Saturn V rocket launch in the center of the canvas.  The Saturn V rocket carried three astronauts to the moon for the first lunar landing in 1969.  Kennedy challenged America to be the first to the moon.  America met that challenge.  What was once thought impossible was made into reality.  An abstract that becomes a solid monumental thing.  There are thousands of turning points involved in this endeavor.  Every time a person working on the lunar landing made a breakthrough and thought, "this really might work!"

The grand, beautiful idea (Marilyn) and the physical incarnation of an idea made into reality (the Saturn V) are connected by two elements, the running man and the scuba divers.  The running man is based on Edweard Muybridge's Study On Human Locomotion photographs that would ultimately lead to the invention of the motion picture.  It is a literal reference to man in motion to bring and idea into being.  Above the scuba divers are the wheels of a locomotive, a reference both to motion and technology and a nod to Muybridge. The scuba divers reference the psychological aspect of this drive, exploration and investigation into a strange and unknown world.

The right side of the canvas is bracketed by three natal charts.  Natal charts are the positions of the celestial bodies at the time of one's birth.  The charts here are for Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, Bacon and Stephen Hawkins.  The charts are surrounded by solar coronas to represent their eternal effect on the way we view the world and the universe around us.  Moments of great thought and scientific breakthrough are turning points for the entire world.  They broaden our horizons and allow us to see beyond ourselves.

The Saturn V rocket and the natal charts are connected by bars of music.  The music here is Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode To Joy, his 9th symphony.  The Ode To Joy is universally recognized and its power transcends language and culture in our world.  It was written late in Beethoven's career when the composer was entirely deaf.  Here again is an idea made concrete brought forth from the impossible.

The blocked area at the center right contains the mouths of men pictured on American currency.  They represent the building of history and the cost of invention.

 I have been told by many who have seen this work that the image of Marilyn and the rocket fill the work with a massive sexual tension.  In retrospect I can see this pretty clearly, Monroe as the sexually alluring female and the rocket as a powerful and massive phallus.  There will always be room for interpretation in my works, and I hope that viewers will always find their own meanings in the images and ideas I present.