Paoli, Art Noveau

I ended up in Paoli yesterday. I randomly chanced upon the opening weekend for a new art gallery in the little country hamlet. So, I stopped in for a few minutes to check out the works.

One piece in particular caught my eye. "Now" by Christian Andrew Grooms, a Madison artist who splits time with New York, struck me as one of the more bracing artistic expressions of our Post-911 time.

Pictured above, it's almost as if Baghdad and Brooklyn are morphing into one another, black helicopters hovering as ominous tokens of both U.S. actions abroad and domestic surveillance. And yet the panorama never quite hits cliche, its central figurine speaking a universal dumbfounded, speechless silence for all as bits of brimstone rain down, almost searing their way out of the canvas. The ambiguous cityscape burns off in the distance and she, the archetypal American in her comfy Adidas hoodie, is no longer certain about crossing the street, the white walk looming out into dangerous half understood traffic.

The rooftops are ablaze. And yet she holds a tiny bit of the flame in her own hand, a dark artist awestruck by what she never realized she had wrought as it comes home to roost.

Perhaps you get something different out of the painting? I could see Ron Paul getting into a spat over the meaning of the piece.

If you happen to be in Paoli, stop by and browse the tiny gallery. While there, Grooms, who has some great portraits of musicians on diplays as well, discussed "Now" a bit over coffee; it definitely drew on his experience with 911. He was kind enough to permit me to take the photo.

Oh yeah - stop by the Paoli Cheese House across the street, too. Three out of five roommates agree: the leek and morel cheese is damn tasty.