Title: Lester in Love: Portrait of Lester Young and Billie Holiday
Material: Oil on canvas
I’d been studying the microphone for a dozen years, and I suddenly saw what I’d been doing wrong. I’d been singing too loud. One night I was listening to a record by Lester Young, the horn player, and it came to me. Relax, just relax. It’s going to be all right. – Marvin Gaye
In this painting, I explore a successful “musical romance”, which are rarely romances in a traditional sense, but rather ones in which the energy between the two parties squares itself so their combined result is far in excess of the sum of their individual talents. That club is legendary: Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrill, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gourmet, Mimi & Richard Farina, Sonny & Cher, Lennon & McCartney (bromance), Prince & himself, and numerous others.
In the case of Pres and Lady Day, the romance was purely creative and ended whenever the music did, as both parties suffered through numerous disfunctions and were both bugled to Jesus way before their time. God Bless the Childs. Some of their art found its way into mine with Pennies from Heaven pouring in from four vanishing points creating Polka Dots and Moonbeams. (These are songs of theirs.) My Funny Valentine is a broken heart, tilted to one side. Lester Leaps In and lines and colors plow through the painting somehow as in an improvised leap of faith. I toy with scale, perspective and feigned double-exposure, as I do in other paintings, to add some jangle and deliberate contradiction. Or not.