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Arts / Galleries

Now Hear This — Our Deserted Island Art Picks

When a Masterpiece Will Keep You Company

BY // 04.12.19

Perhaps I am a born worrier. I wouldn’t say I go as far as being a doomsday-prepper, but due to the fact that this week’s question alludes to being stranded on a deserted island some might say I am.

I never saw the movie Castaway, but know the storyline of Tom Hanks’ character living on a deserted island for many years with only a volleyball named Wilson to keep him company.

That would suck.

The chatter here at the office is around the Dallas Art Fair. It’s become an art bonanza that rivals others in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles bringing-in international art dealers and collectors. So, what is this week’s “Now Hear This” PaperCity Dallas team question?

Here you go: What would be the one work of art you would want to keep you company on a deserted island?

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor in Chief

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Presuming I’m given all other creature comforts on said island, the work of art I would bring is an easy decision. 

My late grandfather was a photorealist painter, as well as a talented New York ad man back in the day, and my favorite work of his hangs on my living room wall. It’s a photorealist, oil-on-canvas rendition of the famous Bloomingdale’s Big Brown Bag. 

CG’s grandfather’s painting that hangs in her home. John Geyer’s “Brown Bag” from the 1980s.
CG’s grandfather’s painting that hangs in her home. John Geyer’s “Brown Bag” from the 1980s.

The reason I would bring it is obviously sentimental — as is the story behind how I ended up with the painting. 

Since I was 10 or 11 years old, I spent all my summers in New York City with my aunt and uncle, who I often refer to as my surrogate parents. On weekends, I’d take the train up to Connecticut, where my grandparents had a house in Kent. 

The last time I saw my grandfather was during the summer of 2010 on one of those trips.

Papa, as I called him, and I were sitting around the kitchen table eating breakfast when he asked me to choose which one I liked the best out of all his paintings.

I told him my favorite was the Big Brown Bag painting — to which my grandma chimed in, “Of course she likes the one hanging on the living room wall!”

Less than five months later, Papa died. And, as it turned out, he had left me that very painting. 

A few months after, a large crate arrived in the mail. I promptly hung the painting — and every time I look at it, I think of all the things I learned from my grandpa: his sarcasm and wit, relentless competitiveness, gentle heart, passion for the New York Yankees, creative spirit and passion for art. 

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

I don’t know why I did this to myself this week, but given my many years in the art world, it’s so hard to choose just one piece of art.

However, I will play by the rules of the game that I set up and provide you with one.

I have long loved the work of Abstract Expressionist painter, Mark Rothko. When I first encountered his work as an undergraduate pursuing my BA in Art History, I was a little suspect.

All my professors kept talking about the meditative quality of his work and how viewers were profoundly impacted by his paintings. Blah blah blah.

Rothko was part of the Color Field school of Abstract Expressionism, unlike his peer Jackson Pollock, who was thought of as an action painter, due to the nature of how he applied paint to his canvases.

When I moved to New York City to pursue my MA in Art History, I finally had the opportunity to experience his work in person. It wasn’t until I walked into a gallery at the Museum of Modern Art where four large paintings hung on each wall that I really understood.

The power they had to reach my soul and bring me to a contemplative space was incredible.

There are many artists who work in a realistic style, but something so direct would likely bore me over time — and I might be on that damn island a very long time.

Thus, I think choosing one of Rothko’s abstract fields of color would keep me engaged forever. I would want his Blue, Green, and Brown from 1952. Now, just finding the right palm tree to hang it from for the best light.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

A mirror — kidding!

Perhaps a beautiful film I could play to keep me company? Am I alone here? This is a tough one, Billy!

Instead of one piece of art, I would choose a book with works from the world’s greatest painters along with plenty of paint and blank canvases. I imagine I will have lots of time on this island to create art of my own. Now that I think of it, where do I sign up?

Hillery Stack, Dallas Publisher

Claude Monet’s The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil is one of my favorite works of art. I remember seeing this for the first time when I was 10 years old, and I was transfixed.

I desperately wanted to be the girl wandering around aimlessly through a sunflower garden. I stood there for over an hour, captivated by all the details. This to me is serenity, so if I was stranded on a deserted island, this piece would bring me a sense of peace and calm.

Linda Kenney, Account Executive

This is a simple choice for me. The painting would be A Girl with a Watering Can by Auguste Renoir.

There was a copy of this painting in my bedroom when I was growing up, and I never tired of looking at it. I was so taken with the girl’s dress that my mother made a copy of the dress with handmade-crocheted lace that I adored.

This painting would conjure sweet memories and stave off the loneliness that being on a desert island must bring.

I would also bring this because it is such a color painting with its Impressionist palette. We all need a little hopeful Impressionism in our lives.

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Manager

If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d like to have Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Being deserted on an island sounds very isolating, so having a painting where the subject matter looks like a fun afternoon in the park would almost feel like friends hanging out on the island with me.

I’d also love to imagine myself in the painting with the subjects, enjoying a nice day on the River Seine. Seurat’s color choices also provide a very soothing quality that would help calm me when isolated on an island.

Also, when I’ve been deserted long enough the painting can provide entertainment. I can sit and count all the dots Seurat used to create the painting.

Caroline Lidl, Dallas Intern

If I were on a deserted island with one piece of art, I would first have to take a pit-stop in London to pick it up. 

I found a sculpture at one of my favorite restaurants in London, Sketch. And while most things inside Sketch are masterpieces — from the displayed art and interior design to the Michelin-star food — I would have snatched up its heart sculpture over all the rest.

Hanging on the wall by the front lounge, it’s an all-black, crystallized sculpture that looks like a human heart, pumps like a human heart and touched something in my heart.

It’s not a Monet or a Warhol, but I think it would be the perfect reminder of my humanity while stuck out on my island.

If you ever have something you want our team to address, shoot us your thoughts via social media or email (@papercitydallas on Instagram; facebook.com/papercitymagdallas on Facebook; or yours truly, billy@papercitymag.com). Or, better yet send a message to the office, handwritten on the Smythson stationery of your choice — and feel free to include a bottle of Veuve. Champagne really helps get the ideas flowing.

Look for the next installment of Now Hear This from Billy Fong next week.

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