Monday, April 30, 2012

Baby Beluga in the Deep Blue Sea

I don't know if you ever consider where your art is going to wind up. I do. I'm constantly worried that it will wind up, dusty and scratched, with a fluorescent green sticker that says "$25," right here:

I've seen it happen.

Where I would like my work to wind up is one of two places. Here:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Or here:

The Hall of Justice

Most of the time, though, I actually have no thought in mind about where my work will come to rest. I just paint. Recently, however, I had an interesting project: I was painting a painting for a couple expecting their first child this summer. The painting is for the child, not the couple. Although the couple is welcome to look at it, I guess.

But I was making a painting for a baby's wall.

As I was working on it, I began to appreciate what kind of project I was working on. When I was a baby, I had a poster of Noah's ark on my wall. My memory of this poster is one of my earliest visual memories - I've verified that it dates to under a year. I can recall the orange color of sunset light coming in the window startlingly eradicating its blues. I remember the circular black dots of the smiling Noah's eyes.

For me, this poster had always been there. It was a default part of the visual environment. It was only when I was much older that I thought, "Huh! That was a specific thing - it was about a specific thing - and it had its own particular weirdnesses." I'd love to show it to you, but frustratingly, it is perhaps the last graphic on Earth not yet findable on the first two pages of a Google image search.

Anyway, what I was painting here was going to be something with the character of my Noah's ark poster - one of the initial experiences of an infant as his senses of sight and self form, recognized as a particular idiosyncratic image only years later. For him (it's a him, it turns out), it will always have been there.

What a wonderful opportunity! One wants to bring delight and comfort, happiness and safety, whimsy and a touch of peculiarity, and enough visual sophistication to challenge the initial cognition and reward its development.

Not all of these are qualities one might think of when describing my personality as an artist. But I set about doing my best. The solution to the problem, as any raffi in the street could tell you, was a beluga whale. Here's what I came up with:

Beluga, Daniel Maidman, 2012, oil on canvas, 16"x20"

Better things have been made for infants, but not by me. I feel privileged to contribute to the always-been-there of this soon-to-be boy. There's no big moral to this story. I just thought it was kind of an interesting anecdote. And I hope the bean enjoys the beluga as he grows.


  1. You just went up a few notches on the Coolometer.

  2. Oh, awesome! As you know, everything I do is in the name of Cool.


  3. You may just make it to chambers of The Hall of Justice!

  4. Thanks Jim! That's very kind of you to say. And as you can see from the picture, they could use a couple paintings around the place.