Tom McGrath
New York, NY


Artist’s Statement

I have a few notions about the potential of this residency that don't yet have a place in my artist's statement, and as a studio painter I like to place my practice slightly ahead of any planning or research. That said, I have a few interests in my practice that would seem to be well realized in Miami. One of the issues I have been dealing with in the last few bodies of work is painting's uncanny ability to create a sense of place out of the generic, and the connection between landscape painters and tourism.  

First, a little context- landscape artists were once the producers of local myth and nostalgia of the grand tour, which connected the aristocratic right of travel with the experiential values of education. Later, in America, the Romantic landscape painters served as both a propagandistic arm of the tourist and railroad industry while paradoxically their work became the transcendental iconology for the reaction against that industry, the naturalist movements.   They created forgeries of arcadia in places where trees had long since been clear cut. Today, the artist plays a role in authenticating the tourist experience, taking part in the mélange of services, real estate and global opportunism that reshapes entire cities, often forfeiting the "authentic" character that provided the cities' very image of itself. 

In many cases, to stay a destination, and to counter the fact that tourism can transform a unique place into a generic one, a city chooses the simplest way to stay unique during a face-lift; it chooses cultural contradiction - the city opts to become an anomaly. I like to make landscape paintings from the perspective of an outsider looking for where that anomaly breaks down.

Miami is one of the most glaring examples of this phenomena of "re-theming". Obviously the effects of this process of re-creating a fantasy of past and present is readily visible in the pastiche of 1920's deco architecture in Miami Beach. I am not interested in postcard views, per say.  Finding an interesting Miami landscape would require a longer stay, some time spent looking and participating, some time to experiment. 

Artist’s Links


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