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The Milwaukee Road (Hiawatha)
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Painting: Oil on Wood.
From my recent series of paintings - "Mystery Train."
I grew up with the rails of America in my blood. My grandfather Arthur Desch, worked as a fireman stoking coal in steam engines before he advanced to train engineer on the Jersey Central Line. Parties and family gatherings in my grandparent’s home brought the rhythms of the rails home. In their clean but Jersey dank basement, the sounds of railroad workers echoed in the music my aunts and cousins played in the shadows of the train lines outside. From Junior Parker, to Elvis Presley, to Bob Dylan, to Johnny Cash, to The Band, to Bruce Springsteen, to Michael McDermott, to arts writer Greil Marcus, to film writer and director Jim Jarmusch, the enduring mythos of America and its legacy has been wrapped in the blues notes of the song Mystery Train. Recently, while flipping through my mom’s carefully tended scrapbook, I found black and white memories of my family’s yearnings, struggles, and triumphs. Whispers of cellar mysteries found their way back into my thoughts and dreams. Today as I paint, a current song by Gary Clark Jr., When My Train Pulls In, propels me back into memories of earlier sounds of passion and propulsion. My current series of paintings, Mystery Train, is steeped in these powerful echoes of those machine days.
Currently on exhibit at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan from December 17, 2018 - March 8, 2019
Note: In honor of the new Expo Line from Metro Los Angeles which began service on May 20, 2016.