What I’m Looking at: Aristea Rizakos

December 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

Merry, merry….’tis the season!

Every year and right about now, I can’t help but feel anxious about the holiday season. I’m not alone on this one, as it happens to be one of the most stressful times for most of us on the calendar. You may not even be celebrating, but are still affected by the surrounding hectic holiday drama.

Was it always this way?

I can’t help but think of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations reflecting on American culture during his time. In the painting above, Santa is depicted as the typical jolly and happy deliverer of gifts…but was he really?

Honestly, even Santa had financial challenges during the season and certainly had to cut costs by shortening the list. There’s certainly more truth in the painting about the expensive pressures we put on ourselves during the holiday season.

Most of his paintings made life look so happy, with it seeming very picture perfect. Remember the one of a Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

Personally, I don’t like turkey. I think it would be a better painting for me, if the main course were a prime rib roast, less people at the table and no wallpaper.

Norman Rockwell was a revered painter depicting the sweet life of the American ideal. His work shifted later on to include more social and political themes – painting the current truth of the time. However, he wasn’t given enough freedom to express his personal opinion without it being challenged by the commissioning publications. Rockwell eventually left the Saturday Evening Post because of conflicting interests.

What is our impression of ‘picture perfect’ that can define our current cultural situation? Do we have one? It would be interesting to see an updated Rockwellian depiction of American culture. If anything, a true rendition of today’s holiday scenario would include a duke out for a parking spot at the mall or over the last bottle of Valpolicella at the liquor store.

Happy Holidays!!

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