By all accounts, this week’s cover by Jim Gingerich seems to represent an iconic image of a pretty field in the Hamptons. Yet when we consider the title, “Flowers to Be Plowed,” we realize that there’s a message here that goes far beyond the painting’s physical appearance. When we learn more about Gingerich, we also realize the potency of the cover. Thus, the artist’s interest in the preservation of our local environment plays an important part in the image and its title. Simply put, plowing of the land is destroying nature. Gingerich features other themes and subject matter as well, but his work has consistent qualities: they are filled with movement, narrative and open-endedness. For example, there’s his image of a woman on an urban street: tall buildings are in the background, suggesting sexual symbols; a fence-like configuration signifies entrapment. His beach scenes often feature couples cavorting; in another piece, a woman lies on the sand. We wonder if she came from the sea. In Gingerich’s interior scenes, a woman in a gown moves among the furniture, where stuffed animals and a stripped chair evoke a post-modern atmosphere.
How would you describe your open-air landscapes?
I try and integrate a sense of whimsy and reverence for my natural surroundings. After all, I am from Texas.
How is being from Texas relevant in your landscapes?
The vast space in Texas is important; landscape is dominant.
I understand you swim a half-mile almost every day in the ocean. Why is that?
I do it for the medicinal benefits of joining the largest living organism on earth. I always feel better when I get out of the water than when I go in.
I sense a kind of spirituality in your landscapes as well as in your other work.
My studies of the Paleolithic Indians and the philosophies of Eastern religion have merged to form what I call a kind of mongrel, user-friendly spirituality, which can be honored by simply opening your eyes or drinking a glass of water.
Your paintings also have a great sense of movement. Where does that come from?
My lifelong interest in film can be seen in my figurative paintings. A sense of aliveness and movement springs off these canvases. Animation and dynamic gestures also show deep psychological stories.
What kinds of movies do you like best?
How about your favorite directors?
What about your latest project, your graphic novel? What is it about film that you find in your graphic novel?
A film’s sense of movement. Film is also such a powerful kind of storyboard.
Are you inspired by the Hamptons in your novel?
Yes. The characters end up in the Hamptons and New York although they start at the Lascaux Caves. I use Gibson Beach here as one setting.
What’s your purpose in writing the book?
My intention is to bring a fine artist’s sensibility to both the images and the text, which sets the work apart from the ordinary comic books. It’s more of a thinking man’s graphic novel, a graphic novel for grown- ups.
View Gingerich’s works at jimgingerich.com.