I came up from Union Square subway station and her painting was the first one I saw. Even now, it brings a smile to me just thinking about it. Bright pinks and purples and other color splashes, expertly woven together into the whole. It is roughly three by three feet, but I'm guessing at the dimensions. It is the most buoyantly, joyfully feminine painting I've ever seen. It celebrates feminity without being cloying or sticky sweet or a female caricature. The paintings in the "transcendence" collection also convey (to me) a reverence and affection for the city. The artist's name is Juliana McKeel. She has a website: http://www.julianamckeel.30art.com/. Go there and experience it all.
A little further uptown, on Sixth Avenue near 55th Street, I met a different kind of painter. A street artist, painting on canvas board with quick drying acrylics, in a neighborhood populated by the well-to-do. He paints them while standing at an easel, and sets them on the sidewalk to dry, propped against the towering stone buildings at his back. A writer, drawn here by the childlike quality of these paintings, commented: "They look like they were painted by kids."
The artist's name is Dan Stuart. He said he started painting "late in life." This past June is when he got started. He explains, "I done a lot of stuff. I was a writer, and my health got worse." A friend of his who happens to be an artist--a fairly well known one--gave him the paint and brushes. He reasoned that "somebody walking by is gonna like what you paint." It's evident that Dan doesn't take himself too seriously. He is content to sell enough to pay his rent and eat. And clearly his paintings are not in the same category as say, the aforementioned Juliana.
Still, there's something endearing about the guileless pictures of cows in a pasture, and red barns and trees, and bright flowers. They make you smile.
A doctor from the neighborhood supplies Danny with canvas board. He buys the more whimsical of the paintings, gives them to his patients when he presents them with their bills. "It makes them laugh," he says.
Do New York's finest bother him when he's selling his sidewalk art? he was asked. Not a problem, said Dan. He can sell anything, as long as he created it.
One neighborhood resident, he pointed out to a writer, walks her tiny dog past his street studio every day. If he's not vigilant, this dog will--as it has in the past--relieve itself on his paintings. No dog hater, Dan interrupted his painting to chat with an acquaintance who was walking a large female dog on a leash. The dog's name is "Pooch," and the owner rescued her from a shelter.
"It's like 'primitive art'," mused an observer.
"I ain't Grandma Moses," said Dan. "I'm more like Grandpa Danny, but it's working out."