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The Stand-Up Comedian Eats Breakfast

Oil on canvas, 2007
6 x 9 ft.

 

For a time, Lochmire experimented with exaggeration as a way to create empathy. Except in the context of art theory, most of the results failed. The Stand-Up Comedian Eats Breakfast is an exception. In this painting, we look into the kitchen of an efficiency apartment. A shirtless man, with his back to us, pours whiskey into a pint of ice cream. His arms, shoulders and back are lean, in the way Holbein the Younger depicts Jesus in The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb.

The squalor is comic: A stack of empty cardboard pizza boxes in the corner resembles the Tower of Pisa. A bulldog lumbers toward the frame. In its mouth, it carries a cockroach the size of a rat. A crayon drawing of a stick-figure family holding hands hangs on the refrigerator door. It is held there by a fist-sized wad of chewed bubble gum. According to a clock on the wall, it is two o’clock in the afternoon.

 

North Dakota Housewife Cleans Silk Roses

Pencil on Paper, 2015
8.5 x 11 in.

 

Even as he matured and experimented with different media, Lochmire filled his notebook with drawings of his wife. Because of their continuity, these studies provide a baseline that help put the artist’s body of work in context. They reveal, for instance, the increasing significance of empty space to the artist’s aesthetic. “Drawing her taught me to perceive the eternal in ordinary moments,” he once said.

In this recent sketch, we see her holding a small pot of silk roses in one hand. With the other, she aims the long nose of a vacuum hose attachment toward the petals.

 

 

The Dress That I Love

Oil on canvas, 1985
6 x 9 ft.

 

Layer upon layer like scales, spangled and semi-circular, each little sequin glints under the club’s low light. A hand touches it tentatively, as if afraid it will slip on the exquisite, slick, smooth-barreled small of the ingénue’s back.

From the motion suggested in this portrait, one imagines that the hand does slip, exquisitely, all the way down. We go a step further and ask, what happens if the hand returns, if it reverses its motion and becomes snagged in the layers folding over themselves, to discover there is no going back?

This is Lochmire’s The Dress That I Love, from a series of speakeasy portraits produced early in his career. To be expected, the lighting is limited, the source undefined.

Besides the hand, the bodies are separated, as if recognizing the distance necessary to appreciate love’s debt to intuition.

 

 

The Banker

Oil on canvas, circa 2008
6 x 9 ft.

 

The banker is tall, bony, pallid—a long-faced man eating a bowl of soup. He sits at a wooden table with a wooden bowl and a wooden spoon. As in many of Lochmire’s paintings, the light comes from an unidentified source—too bright to for a candle, too dim to be the noonday sun.

He wears a tank top and suspenders. Lochmire’s working title was The Usher After Work, yet we know from his journal the portrait was commissioned by a banker. Apparently, the painting was never delivered due to a disagreement over price.

A program for a wedding and all the religious accouterments nearby—the Cross, Rosary and so on—suggest the connection to the subject’s duties. There is also a wicker basket with a long handle for collecting tithes at Mass, and stacks of dollars in front of him.

One wants to say that he looks sad and lonely, but there is no evidence of that. All we can say for sure is that he is old and sipping on soup.

 
  

Andrew Brown is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. He lives online at Poetry Mode and Methodical Writing.

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