Monday, December 18, 2017

Anchor & Oar Commission for Hyatt Place Hotel

Andrew Saftel, Anchor and Oar, 2017
Acrylic and collage on birch panel, 72x96 inches

This painting, commissioned for the Hyatt Place Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee, is loosely based on the life of David Farragut, for whom the original hotel was named. However, it is more generally about all people and how we move through time together and share a common history.

The anchor represents settling down and staying put and the oar pushes us on our way through our lives. Guests in the hotel will be dropping anchor for the night and then employing the oar as they move forward in their lives.

Farragut, born in Knoxville, was a career naval officer, a Union  Navy commander during the Civil War and the first Secretary of the Navy. I used his signature on the top of the painting and included two views of his ship, the USS Hartford, which he commanded in the battle of Mobile Bay, where he famously said “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Half way down the left side of the painting are the words from a letter Farragut dictated and signed in July 1862, which said, “Sir, The Department informs me that no reports of firing have been received
from the vessel under your command since the first of January last, and requests me to call your attention to Art. 14 Page 5, Ordnance Instructions.” I like the sense of humor Farragut employs here.

The Knoxville postmark and the words “Got Here O.K.” were from a postcard in 1937 written by my wife’s grandfather, who served in the Tennessee General Assembly, to his wife in Clarksville, letting her know he had arrived in Knoxville safely. I changed the date on the postmark to bring the painting into the present.

Below the postmark are the words “East Tennessee Marble” where written by William Strickland, the architect of the Tennessee state Capitol. The marble industry in East Tennessee from the 1850s to
the 1930s, produced marble that was used all over the country, especially in Washington, D.C. There is still marble being quarried south of Knoxville today.

I often have references to time in my work and the words, “High Tide, Sunrise, Sunset, Days Full and April has Thirty Days,” refer to our shared time together on this planet. Time passing is what we all have in common. The musical staff is also a reference to time.

The horseshoe I found hiking in the Smokies. It is a symbol for good luck and also a part of the Farragut family crest. “Arrival” and “Departure” on the top of the painting come from my passport and symbolize how our lives (and hotel stays) have a beginning and an end.

The small man on top of the little book on the bottom left of the painting is taken from an East Tennessee folk art carving of a miner. The piece of wood and stone on the top of the painting I found on the beach in California. The two pieces of marble on the bottom center of the painting were from the original floor of the Farragut hotel. The raft of refugees represents all families who came to this country as immigrants including my family and David Farragut’s.

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