Edward Hopper lightly sketched an ordinary white house, the one on the hill above Gloucester, the one with the ornamental overhang. Then the artist brushed on watercolors to enliven the sky and shadows, the street and fences, the shutters at every window. The building’s light-washed gaze shuttles your eye to a high wooden pole with its crossarms and insulators. Let’s not speculate why there are no birds on the wires and no people in the street: the picture’s not meaning— it’s moment. At Gloucester, he said, when everyone else would be painting ships at the waterfront I’d just go around looking at houses— structures that became radiant matter-of-fact like the one on the hill with the sun’s weightless palm shining on its face.
Copyright 2005 by Brian Dean Powers