Spanish Jesus, 2004 Oil on Linen 48 × 36 inches
Spanish Jesus, 2004
Oil on Linen 48 × 36 inches

I taught fine art at NYU for many years, and one of my best experiences was being able to chaperone a group of their best, dean’s list students on a trip through Andalusia, Spain, where we saw many delights in an area of Europe that still many tourists don’t travel. We were in Ronda, as one of our first stops, and I hadn’t ever really encountered the incredible religious wooden statues they have all around in churches and cathedrals throughout that area. There existed this statue at a church there that was so lifelike it really moved me—it was designed and carved I’m sure for this effect, as it really seemed to be watching and communicating something when you stared into its eyes. I had glanced at it in passing, but it stuck with me, the experience being really stirring that I had to go back to take a photo of it before our group left to go to another town. I ran to the church, which luckily was still open, and in my rush took this shaky shot, before running back to the bus where the students and teachers were waiting in the bus. When I got back to NYC I created this painting, one of the first created from my own photos, and it has always moved me, I see new things in it, in the backgrounds and foreground, and depending on where I am in life it means different things to me. In some ways its great that religious art sometimes doesn’t sell, and we have always had this painting by our side as a sort of protector and good energy device—it has also appeared in the background of other paintings, significantly in a portrait of my dog Julian (and my recently passed Rosa!) that I painted right after he died—hopefully he is being watched and cared for wherever he is, along now with his constant companion Rosa, and I love that this painting could be a talisman for that thought and more.