Announcing the first annual Pink Bison Prize. Learn more here.

Learn More
Faith Earl

Faith Earl


In her painting Pacific Coast, Joy Parks offers us the gift of fresh eyes. Parks writes that the Pacific Coast captured here is “so different from the Atlantic Coast,” which is her “home.” When we don’t know a place as intimately as we know our own home, while we may not be able to offer the same intimacy, we sure as hell can offer our unjaded keenness. We can bring, instead, wide eyes that drink in every last detail, from the peach in the thin clouds, to the bend in the emerald tree’s branch. We bring a childlike giddiness and desire to not miss even the smallest stone in the water, or the direction of the wind caught in the boat’s sail. While the scene recreated by Parks offers beauty and serenity, the artist’s impulse offers enthusiasm and fervor. To consume a moment and place and be committed to spending the time to necessary to mix the perfect balance of blue and green for the turquoise waters and the best ratio of grey and blue for the shadows on the stones demonstrates an artist that has been taken with life. Looking at the painting, we understand why: the calm waters and warm sunshine of the painting tells us that the moment that inspired this painting was one of those moments in time where everything is perfect; one of those moments that pulls us out of the frantic stir of life and offers us a stillness that, if we are lucky, we can hold onto for the rest of the day. I see this painting as Parks’s way of holding onto this stillness. I see this painting as a meditation on beauty, and what makes life worth living. I imagine Parks carefully dipping her brush into the shade of green made only for this tree’s leaves and feeling the peace of this moment all over again as she wills the moment from memory and into colors so that we as viewers may feel what she felt. And, Parks, I can assure you that we do. We do.

Behind the brick-bare walls and dark windows, somebody froths the milk for their morning espresso; somebody spreads fig jam on a buttered croissant. The air is still and cool, smelling of the pavement still slick with yesterday’s rain, but today, there is sun. Today, the thin clouds promise to make way for the brilliant blue sky by early afternoon. The canoe bobs like a duck with the canal’s small waves. Beyond this tiny space between these old buildings: an entire world. This is what the artist has done in Morning in Venice: not only captured a moment, but captured a feeling-- captured the possibility each morning swells with. In the stillness, the promise of sun and warmth, fettuccine and wine. In the paint, the promise that we can still know the beauty of a moment, and that some of us have the ability to create this moment in color so that it may be lived, and lived, and lived.