Think for a moment about a painting you love.
How quickly were you drawn to it? Did your appreciation accrue over time, or did you love it the minute you saw it? If the latter, what was it that drew you in?
After Easter dinner in 2018, I strolled through a small art gallery and came face to face with a series of three paintings–“From the 22nd Floor”–by a local artist, Kathy Axilrod. Each depicted a view from the 22nd floor of an apartment building located between 89th and 90th Streets on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. All three were striking, but I was especially attracted to the second one in the series. I lingered in front of it for a minute or so and then moved on. But just a few seconds later, I backpedaled, planted myself in front of it, and realized that I would end up buying it.
A number of things drew me into this work. It depicts New York, a city I’ve loved since I was a child. It includes the top of the iconic spiral of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by an architect whose work I’ve always admired. I love the painting’s late afternoon/early evening palette of blues and grays; it had the feel of autumn or winter, my two favorite seasons. (The artist later confirmed that it was mid-autumn). I love the shimmer of light on the Central Park Reservoir. But the real magic, for me, is the glow of the lights on the south side of 89th Street: a few meticulously placed brush strokes of yellow and orange bring the entire canvas alive.
Shortly after leaving the gallery, I e-mailed the artist and laid claim. It’s been hanging in the entryway of my home ever since, and brings me joy every day.
The other two paintings in the series are below.
What painting brings you joy, and why?
Trivia tidbit: I’ve blogged previously about my love of ‘the golden hour’. Axilrod’s painting depicts another colorful time, the so-called ‘blue hour’. While a day’s golden hours occur just after sunrise and just before sunset, when the sun is just above the horizon, the blue hours are just before sunrise and just after sunset, when the sun is just below the horizon. (Note: while the duration of this phenomenon depends on where you are in the world, it’s generally more a matter of minutes and not a full hour). And the nerd in me has to include this nifty graphic by Oscar Harper.