This piece was sold yesterday to a couple of guys who will hang it in their home in Houston. I was not at the gallery at the time, so I didn’t get to meet them. Hopefully we will eventually connect. I want to know what it was about the piece that touched them – and I want to tell them what was on my mind when I painted it.
It’s funny when you sell a piece of art. Sometimes it’s simple: celebrate and on to the next piece. But sometimes it’s a little bittersweet. I am delighted to see this piece going to a new home, AND this is one that hung in my own house for almost a year. I enjoyed it more than I probably should. So I’m a little sad, too. (But just a little!)
‘Blood on the Dancefloor’ was painted the week of June 13, 2016. I was thinking about the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. It happened on the 12th. 49 people died when Omar Mateen opened fire in the nightclub. It wasn’t a big burst; he went from room to room, systematically executing people. I remember the text messages one victim exchanged with his mother as he hid in the bathroom. A moment later, Mateen was there . . . and he was gone.
As I read the list of victims and looked at their pictures I was struck by their ages. They were almost all under 30. Many were under 25. They were mostly latino. Young guys out for a fun night dancing and drinking with their friends.
I’m old. I haven’t been club dancing in 20 years. And clubbing at 1 o’clock in the morning? Please! I find it hard to stay awake past 10! But I know these guys. I’ve seen them and danced next to them – though years ago. They are everything young, hopeful, innocent and exuberant. Though often loud, frivolous, even obnoxious, they can grow up to be the best of us. Except these 49 never will.
The painting is about that club, those kids, that bathroom. But it is also about the powerful Phoenix rising from all of that destruction: the beautiful bird that grows stronger with every attack.