"The Assassination of William McKinley."
This may be my favorite work that I have ever created, and it looks very different to most of the work I have ever created. I love it for many reasons including stylistic and thematic reasons, but most of all, I love it because of the way that it reminds me of the treasured time I spent with my mentor, Richard Merkin.
I grew up artistically-inclined but did not know much about art, and did not spend much time around art either. In my childhood home, we had several works on paper by David Schneuer, which are incredibly beautiful, and then, a work that hung over the couch in the den that arrived when I was eight years old -- for their tenth wedding anniversary, my mom purchased my dad a silkscreen of Richard's painting entitled, "Orpheus and Eurydice." I was drawn to this painting so immensely as a child-- this was basically the only art I ever knew until I reached high school. It was ingrained in my mind-space.
When I received my sophomore schedule at RISD, I was downright giddy when I realized that I had Richard for my Drawing 101 teacher. Richard and his friend of many, many years, David, who was our model, would tell jokes back and forth through class, and played music, and created these wondrous scenes for us to draw David within, pulling large black-and-white striped pieces of fabric and bright pink tulle and feather boas and large top hats from out of these specatuclar boxes and cubby-holes in the back of the drawing room, creating magical spaces all in stride as if Richard had a marching band playing behind him. It was beyond amazing.
Richard and I hit it off from day one. He took me under his wing, and I completed two independent studies with him during my sophomore and junior years, and then I had him again as a teacher during my senior year, which was his last year teaching at RISD.
We talked on the phone every month during the summer between semesters, and after graduation, sent care packages back and forth to each other throughout the years and spoke often on the phone. I will always treasure his guidance, and I miss him dearly.
Richard would give me assignments in this manner: he would give me a sentence, and I would create a work based on it. It was usually something historical that involved me doing some research on the topic, which I loved. "The Assassination of William McKinley" was this sort of assignment. After some research, before I began the painting, I learned that the assassination of President McKinley was also the birth of the anarchism movement. At the time that this painting was created, in 2002, it was at the height of post-9/11 horrible awful things happening with President Bush and his squad, and I was heavily into creating political-based art at that time. Hence, the perfection of this assignment from Richard.
In the center of the painting is Richard himself, sailing a boat with the black flag of anarchy waving, looking off into the distance.