2010 Dec 16, 12:10am
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Northbound

It was one of those strange coincidences – you know when you’ve been thinking about someone, and the phone rings, and you hear that someone on the other end? – something like that.

Only days before Ron Dumont called to ask if I would be interested in lending a painting to a show he would be curating, I had been eyeballing these areas with tall railroad beds not far from home. I thought from below they were like great walls interrupting the flow of the summer landscape, but then, they followed the terrain, and had long since become part of it too. Maybe there was a painting lurking in there somewhere.

Ron said the show would be railroad-themed. What a mysterious bit of providence. I told him I would think about it, and see if the inspiration was there.

After sketching out some unused ideas, and waiting for Autumn to set in deeply enough to strip the leaves from much of the trees and to color most of the rest, the perfect day happened. The cloud cover and lighting were just right, and when the sun got low enough, I found it – true inspiration.

For the past twenty years, we have always lived within distant earshot of the overnight trains that run between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids; “Northbound”, for me, conjures not only that familiar, comforting sound of the horns at night, but also many walks along the tracks with Trish.

"Northbound", 2010, Watercolor and Drybrush on Paper, 21 x 28 3/4 in., by David Jay Spyker

“Northbound”, 2010, Watercolor and Drybrush on Paper, 21 x 28 3/4 in., by David Jay Spyker

You can see “Northbound” along with paintings, photography, and sculpture by nearly thirty artists at “Railroad Days”. The show is on display at the Portage District Library in Portage, Michigan through January 27. Also included are poems inspired by trains, railroad memorabilia, and model trains.


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What a great painting.

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