Brooks Cashbaugh

An America Where This Makes Sense

September 1–October 2 2011

An America Where This Makes Sense flyer front An America Where This Makes Sense flyer front

America needs a new image.

Brooks Cashbaugh

Our national and cultural identity has long been dominated by a selfish and unwelcoming ideology. From a narrowly defined idea of patriotism to the popular stories and legends of our history, an image of America has been championed that resists change, suppresses differences and refuses to fully acknowledge its own failures. These qualities have become so entangled with the dominant portrait of America that at times it has become impossible not to see them as core principles of the American character. But we know that's not the case.

Homestruck Fire Halo Prairie
Homestruck Fire Halo Prairie detail
Street Light Incantation
Street Light Incantation detail
Road Mother
Road Mother detail
Room In History
The Last Sprinkle detail
Room In History / The Last Sprinkle
There is an American identity that is curious and accepting, honest and daring, that does what is hard, that tries something new and challenges tradition where it knows it can do better. It is this spirit of America that my paintings seek to rediscover in the icons and archetypes of the American mythology that has been created.
Joe's Longhorn Grill And Boot Hill Bar detail
Citizen Beav detail
etchings collection
St. Prove-It-On-Me
Sweetheart Sweat And Spoon
Railway Pasture
gallery scene

My work depicts young people dressed up in the costumes of familiar figures as they struggle, ponder and question their surroundings in an effort to breathe new life into these tainted representations of Americana. Using a keyed-up CMYK palette, I paint with an energetic mark that seeks to rediscover the excitement of creating a hand-made image that can sit comfortably with the digital and photographic images that prevail in our era. The paintings begin in a place of abstraction, in love with vibrant colors and kinetic marks. These elements collect around familiar sights and details, working their way toward building recognizable representations that finally make sense as portraits of American landscapes and figures. It is through this that I strive to find something new in the familiar picture of America.

Photos by John Carleton.