Unlocking the Gate of Dreams —

Our recent trip to the newly expanded and renovated art gallery at Yale University proved a treasure trove of images and impressions, and they haven’t quit yet.

A dear friend who combined dual professions of artist and monk once said, “No painting is worth owning unless it opens the gate of dreams.” A magical phrase, isn’t it? To open the gate of dreams —  Sure enough, the visit to Yale provided me with several such “keys.”

The Gate of Dreams?

Here we go, then, through this sculptural gate —- into the world of Edward Hopper, stark and sunlit and lonely, realistic and abstract and surrealistic all at once. Yale is rich in Hoppers. There are three hanging together in one room. Here’s the one I entered into this visit:

Edward Hopper's Western Motel

A motel room somewhere in the American West, mountains, a car, a bed, two bags, a shaft of sunlight, a woman gazing — at us? into her thoughts? her memories? No numbers on the clock, no bulb in the lamp, what is going on here? Such bright sunlight, and yet the room — to me — is haunted.

Kerry James Russell

Another painting, by a painter of whom I’d never heard before, simply riveted me. Kerry James Russell, her name is. This is a detail of her large self-portrait, Untitled. Brilliant colors lighting up a blinding whiteness, stark velvety black of skin so powerfully there, a beam of energy emanating from the whites of the artist’s eyes transfixing the viewer — A photo can’t do justice to that effect, it has to be experienced. A strong woman, an intense woman, what would it be like to meet Kerry James Russell? What is she like? A wonderment.

Life is short, eat dessert first

But my dreams are not only about profound and serious matters. They are also often about food, which I consider a profound and serious matter as well.  Wayne Thiebaud has become famed for his portraits of food, especially of cakes, pies, pastries and candy. If there is a theme to Thiebaud’s work, I might describe it by the well-worn saying, Life is short, eat dessert first. And yet his paintings, like Hopper’s, combine realism and abstraction and surrealism all at once. Clearly that combination is really powerful for me,  so often unlocking the gate of my own dreams.

Perhaps one of these works provides you, too, with a key to the gate of your dreams. Perhaps they don’t, but there are others which do. Perhaps you’d comment on what painting or artwork does that for you, even post a link to it, if you like. I’m curious to learn about your gate of dreams!

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28 Responses to Unlocking the Gate of Dreams —

  1. Patti Kuche says:

    Where to start on the Kerry James Russell Untitled? Two women, two very different paintings, both women sharing an intense wonder, are we coming or going? Do you know who I am? Do I know who I am?

    I love the words of your friend about no painting worth owning unless it opens the gate of dreams, sadly I cannot afford to have on my walls such keys of my dreams desire but I shall always have the comfort keys of music and literature.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Profound question, Patti. Beyond, Do you know who I am? is that most important, Do I know who I am?

      You never know about paintings or drawings — they can enter your life in unexpected ways, not necessarily coming from fancy galleries. Again going beyond — beyond lie your photographs, many of which fulfill Brother Eric’s criterion, at least for me. You have opened the gate of dreams again and again — not just for me, but I suspect for many many others.

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  2. visiting an art gallery always seems to me to be wandering through a gate into a realm of dreams, of magic, of the deep consciousness we all long for. These are wondrous examples of such awareness. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Sharing dreams is sheer pleasure. So happy you’re here for the visit, Joss.
      And speaking of realms of dreams — I wonder how the fulfillment of one of yours is coming along, Madame? Ca va?

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      • oui, ca va tres bien meme. Busy packing, sorting, selling, getting passports and International Driver’s license and so on. Will be on the plane in September. It’s getting pretty exciting although we are sort of beyond tired right now.

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          Not a time, perhaps, to hint subtly that your viewers hope you won’t under pressure be abandoning your blog. This viewer hopes that at some point you’ll take us along!

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  3. xties says:

    I’m intrigued by Kerry James Russell’s utilisation of particular significant references: “painting by numbers” was the first of these to strike me; she also seems to have clothed herself in a “tailor-made” garment cut from a painting; and her black is very black, contrasting strongly with all the white in the painting – after all, she is a woman of colour. Do we know who she is? Does she know?

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I don’t know who she is, and so far have resisted googling her because the mystery heightens my ongoing encounter with her self-portrait. I’ll tell you one thing, though — when you meet that cool level gaze on the gallery wall — SHE knows full well who she is! Glad you’re enjoying it.
      (That effect of stark white and the very black black is many times more powerful in the actual presence of the painting.)
      ((Meant to tell you we finally saw Whale Rider, and were pretty well blown away.))

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Magnificent works………I so enjoyed seeing them and your beautiful narrative. Thank you!!!

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  5. I like Hopper. I think that woman is looking at the door, waiting for her husband, or perhaps a lover. The look of longing and expectation tells me more likely this is a clandestine meeting. I’ve always liked this Georges Seurat painting. I found it in an encyclopedia in the 50’s and have liked it ever since. No explanation. Just do. Maybe my dream is to travel to another time. Don’t know. http://www.georgesseurat.org/Sunday-Afternoon-on-the-Island-of-la-Grande-Jatte–1886.html

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Interesting interpretation of the Hopper, Gemma. In my more pessimistic moods I think she is waiting for someone who is not going to show up. But then again, there is a car outside —
      You certainly have a lot of company in admiring the Seurat! You may already know this, but the painting is in the Art Institute of Chicago, HUGE painting, people almost life-size as I remember. You only have to travel as far as Chicago, not all the way back to the 1900’s, to stand in front of that gate of dreams.

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  6. I want to meet Kerry Russell too.

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  7. I ALWAYS feel like I am dreaming when I visit an art museum. The images and colors and creations of others wander in and out of my thoughts, like odd puzzle pieces of a dream. You have to wonder, though, what Hopper would say to Russell, or what Russell would say to Thiebaud! Would they talk about cake? : )

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Oh, my, what a provocative comment. I find I cannot imagine that those three would exchange even one word! And yet, who knows?
      To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, let them talk cake!

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      • Touch2Touch says:

        A great question to bring to all self-portraits, maybe. Patti strikes again! Maybe that’s why the portraits in her photo journalism are always so satisfying; they’re asking questions (and not just of us).

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  8. rebekah says:

    The first one kind of tickles the mind … especially when you start looking into the details, like you said. Patti Kuche brought up a really interesting question there … ‘Do I know who I am?’ 🙂

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  9. Pauline says:

    I’m more the Hudson River School of Art than I am impressionist or modern, and works by artists like Mary Cassatt or or the Wyeths can rivet me. And I’ve always been able to enter the gate of dreams through Monet. I’m not as educated in art as you and your readers; I’m too busy out of doors, but I do know the feeling of being transported by a painting. I tumbled right into Edward Hopper’s Cottages at Wellfleet.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yes, I can see how we definitely Meet at Monet!
      The Hudson River School doesn’t do it for me (why are you not surprised?) but I found out on our recent trip to the Brandywine (PA) Museum just WHY I love Wyeth so much. I always thought of him as strictly a realist painter, but this time (thanks to the current exhibit) made the discovery that his work is also abstract and surrealist as well, which trifecta makes up the key to my own gate of dreams.

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  10. 2e0mca says:

    I have always been a great fan of Ed Hopper’s work – such loneliness depicted in so many of his paintings of people. Yet his landscape / architectural works are so vibrantly full of light.

    That painting by Russell is very clever on so many levels – I’d like to see more of her work 🙂

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      One of the three Hopper works hanging all in the same room was one that was nothing BUT light — a lonely room, filled and vibrating with light.
      Russell was brand new to me; my reaction was exactly the same as yours!

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