Conversations with Joseph

Oil, mixed media on panel

…. in primitive societies, the thing and its image were simply two different, that is, physically distinct, manifestations of the same energy or spirit. Hence, the supposed efficacy of images in propitiating and gaining control over powerful presences. Those powers, those presences were present in them.

“On Photography” Susan Sontag


A Doll House, Act VII

Oil on panel

My daughter is getting her Ph.D. in literacy and social justice (I haven’t asked her what the actual degree will read), speaks to me about privilege. Walking into a school that competes with any country club, and seeing all the beautiful kids being picked up from Sunday activities by their beautiful parents in their beautiful SUV’s sharply contrasts with the urban community college where I work.

But Paula’s work, which I believe are extraordinary, speaks about the pain of growing up. Something is not quite right in the childhood presented in these oil on panel 12” squares. Sometimes we see bright local color, and other times the secrets hidden in foggy translucent overlays.

Based on Ibsen’s Doll House from 1879, these paintings echo the speech at the end of the play when she (a woman for all times) finally says she has had enough.

And Paula’s “ghosts” are represented not of her mind, but as paintings of discolored and aged Kodacolor prints. We view her self-psychoanalysis in these most poignant and compelling images.   2/11/07


Act I, Seen But Not Heard


“…The oldest standing in the background who knew too much but could not control, the next oldest who hadn’t all the pieces, the youngest in left foreground who still enjoyed a bit of innocence with the burden falling on the child in the foreground – left, who stood protective and defiant. It’s a big job for a little girl. She however has the strength. She loves her sisters and wants them to see even when they refuse because she believes that once they see they will be safe.

The little painting with the little red heart – hole pressed into it – hurts too deeply.”   (2006 exhibition “The Doll House Paintings”)

Tom Brady,

Death Has No Dominion

Oil on panel

“Six Plays by Henrik Ibsen”

With an Introduction and Notes by Martin Puchner

Ibsen is the playwright who dared more than any of his contemporary writers to do away with old proprieties, to invent new forms, to break with the past. At the same time, however, his plays are everywhere haunted by this past; even as they announce their desire to escape the past, it always returns – for example, in the form of the character’s childhood and formative experiences. Ibsen’s plays are psychological plays in that they proceed by analyzing characters, by taking them apart layer by layer until these characters’ actions are fully explained.