Monday, January 31, 2011

Edward Hopper "Nighthawks"

I have always been fond of the painting, "Nighthawks", by Edward Hopper. He painted it before I was born. It was one of the themes one could choose for a personae for Firefox this morning. I bought a book of Hopper's paintings years ago when it went on sale at Barnes and Noble. It was one of three books of paintings I have bought there since coming to Redding. Unfortunately, it is one of the books my ex-husband "liberated" from my house when I was in Korea.

I like all of his paintings, but "Nighthawks" is my favorite. It reminds me of my time in large cities when I was going to college and I lived alone. I was very busy going to classes and working. It was pre-Reagan in California where anyone who wanted to go to college could. All you had to do was find a job that was compatible with your schedule and although that wasn't easy the amount of money it took to pay for college was affordable or it was until Ronald Reagan as governor took care of that and made sure property taxes went down and the cost of college went up. People like me could not afford to go anymore. Still, I attended classes long enough to get most of my education completed.

Most writers who describe Hopper's paintings tell their readers how alienated and lonely their subjects are in the scenes he depicted. I always felt I was in those paintings and I did not feel that. Yes, people were not connecting to others because they were lost in thought. "Nighthawks" was painted during World War II. People had a lot on their mind. When I was living the life that seemed to echo those paintings, it was the Viet Nam War. Many of us had lots of things on our mind as well.

Hopper's subjects are looking out of windows but not seeing because they were looking inward at something else. They were looking at their lives and they were accepting it all in a very calm way. I was not so calm in those years, and if I was a character in a Hopper painting, I would have looked differently or not been in the painting at all. I wanted to move, jump, fly, dream or anything past the horizon to something else although I did not know what was on that horizon. Now, I look out my window and see the Redding Cemetery and know full well what is on the horizon. That is what age does to one. It gives some more information. That can be good and not so good.

Hopper did other paintings such as those at the seaside. He spent some time painting boats and beaches without any people in them. They are very pleasant to look at, but he is most known for the studies of people in the cities, in rooms, on porches and so on.

Am I a healthier person because I can accept my fate on a more realistic basis than when I was younger and figured that I had all the time in the world? I don't know. I am a happier person overall but I never woke up in the middle of the night with the knowledge that I am going to die someday. The first time that happened was years later when I had surgery for cancer.

I was arrogant to be sure, but all young people are. Now, I listen or read the comments of young people and it tires me sometimes. Was I that boring? Probably. I thought I had all of the answers now I know I never even had the questions. Louis Armstrong said that living once was enough until he got older and then he changed his mind. Once is not enough. I think when you get old, it can be. You get tired. I am not there yet. Still, It is nice to wake up in the morning to see the rosy sky of dawn as I am doing now even if it is over the dang blasted cemetery.

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