Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Messenger

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art

George Clair Tooker, Jr. (August 5, 1920 – March 27, 2011) was a figurative painter whose works are associated with the Magic realism and Social realism movements. Tooker did not care for this label. He was one of nine recipients of the National Medal of Arts in 2007. Working with the then-revitalized tradition of egg tempera, Tooker addressed issues of modern-day alienation with subtly eerie and often visually literal depictions of social withdrawal and isolation. He died of kidney failure at the age of ninety with a life's work of over 150 paintings, many of which sold for $300,000-400,000. Even so, because he shunned publicity, not many know of him or his work.

Poem written for Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales *click here*

The Messenger

I did not come here
for lunch, though it is that hour.
I have a message
for one of you here.
Will J. D. please stand up now?
That's John Doe perhaps?
Why are there only
two women here? That's crazy
in this day and age.
I feel funny, strange,
not a good way to feel in
this hazy brass light.
Where in Hell's Hall can
I be? And where is that guy?
I have this damned note.

written December 4, 2011 10:45 AM


  1. Nice take on delivering/getting the message, especially in the context of Tooker's painting, which underscores a dulled, unacknowledged sense of identity and, as I mention in my post, recalls the '60s lunch-counter sit-ins. The African-American, even more than the woman, stands out in this painting; he has been given, as it were, the center "pride of place". I like your use of "J.D.... /That's John Doe perhaps?"; how it imputes that anonymity that comes across, except for the African-American and woman facing toward us.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting on my poem.

  2. I love that you refer to all of them as John Doe. Thanks for including the bio on Tooker. This piece is one of my favorites at the Columbus Museum of art.

  3. Awesomely eerie!

    Thanks for the info about the artist.

  4. I really like this! Especially your ending:

    "Where in Hell's Hall can
    I be? And where is that guy?
    I have this damned note."

  5. personalized statement is cool,

    why two women,
    sharp observation of the image.
    a pleasant read.

  6. This is a fine response to the painting Christopher. Yours is the first I've read and I was wondering how people would respond (as I slacked off and linked to an existing poem). Your poem made me go back and study that picture again.

    I liked the dry and slightly wary voice.

    Isabel x

  7. i love this. and thank you very much for sharing that info about painter...


  8. Thank you for telling us more about the artist ... your poem is awesome.

  9. break down the pic nicely...touching each element and the message, is a great way to touch on the depth the painter is trying to relay...

  10. Thanks so much for the info re Tooker, and loved your take on the prompt. Very clever, very intriguing. K.

  11. George Tooker is a new artist for me. This image can conjure up numerous emotions, unfortuntately grim and gloomy ones. This place needs windows!

  12. Fuck! Christopher I wont cuss on your blog often, but this is one of those times . I more than liked this...nice piece of work my friend!

  13. Love that you added info about the painter Christopher.....great work!!

  14. Here is what happens, I get someone I know little about, like Tooker. So I do basic research, then I post a little of what I find, first because no one is authorized to tell me direct copy is cheating, and second because now I can refer to my own blog. In the meantime, I keep learning by doing, and learning is important to me. I am of the age that it matters to me who I am sharing and have shared the planet with.

    Thanks to you, all my friends, for liking my work.

  15. Christopher- You have captured the essence of this painting. Thanks for sharing the info about the artist, too.

  16. Ah, the details. I didn't notice the black man, until I read the comment above, and I only saw one lady, until now. And it is painted as if someone, unseen, is in the room!

  17. Excellent, informative Magpie as well as an intriguing poem.


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