I recently spent a week attending a Visual Storytelling class with Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in New Mexico. My subject was a local artist named Lawrence Fodor. Apparently everyone in Santa Fe these days is an “artist.” According to publications such as The Atlantic, Santa Fe is the most artistic city in the USA. Well, I will tell you that Larry is the real deal. He has a sound background in the foundations of art gained while studying at Otis College of Art and Design in California, and guess what folks, Larry is a painter. Fodor is a financially successful, well placed, and well represented modern-day abstract painter that has been practicing for the past 30 years.
A what you say? A painter? What’s a painter? You mean those guys that use oils and brushes and a canvas? Yep. I’m making a distinct point about this painting thing because whilst in Santa Fe, Larry and I went to several galleries and museums and 90% of the stuff on the walls consisted of video, audio, and written installations. I will even go so far as to say compared to the stuff I saw Larry doing and compared to the guys I’m studying about in my Art History class, modern artists these days seem entirely occupied with the conceptual and display ever decreasing levels of skill. People want instant gratification these days and art is going down the tubes – look at Damien Hirst.
Where are the great young painters of today? Is painting too hard? Do works these days take too long to complete? Are present day artists afraid to get dirty? Larry had permanently green-ringed fingernails during the week I spent with him by the way. His heroes – Monet, Turner, and Rothko – are of legendary stature. Larry has been on both sides of the art court – having been a gallerist and an artist, he knows the business of art intimately. It was refreshing and satisfying to see someone so dedicated to painting that I almost felt I was documenting a dying breed.