My Home Is My Castle: The Schlossgeist Series, an ongoing body of mixed-media triptychs, began in Vienna when I worked as the first American artist in the "Artist-in-Residence-in-Vienna" program, sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts, now under the umbrella of the Austrian Chancellery of Art, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Following an initial one-person exhibition at my Atelier Davidgasse in Vienna, selected triptychs were included in solo shows at Amerika Haus Berlin, sponsored by USIA, the German Fulbright Commission, and CocaCola Deutschland, and in Eichhofen Palace's 10th International Kunstforum near Regensburg, Germany, among other venues. The first triptych in the series is now held in the Austrian federal collection, the Artothek des Bundes (Austrian Art Documents), in Vienna.

Research for The Schlossgeist Series included on-location painting, drawing, and photographic studies at castle sites during my two years as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and residencies at the International Kunstforum, the Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus in Schwandorf, and the Deutsche Burgenvereinigung (German Castles Association) at Marksburg Castle, home to one of the largest international archives on castle history and preservation.

Within The Schlossgeist Series I propose a relationship between the contemporary home and the historical castle. The series explores the concept of the home as fortress, private domain, symbol of power, sanctuary and romantic ideal. Anonymous, iconographic American suburban tract-house shapes are placed before backdrops of the home ideal, represented by German castles in four archetypal forms—urban palace, baronial country residence, fortified hill-top castle and castle ruin. The miniature toys or childhood "artifacts" not only stand as visual metaphors for early memories that haunt adulthood, but also become formal manifestations of the popular legends, ghost stories, and histories unique to the ancient sites.

The historical castle and the modern suburban home share a common raison d'être: the sequestration of the dweller from the problems of an external environment. The fortified walls, which protected earliest castles from ever-present danger, and the impressive, though less defensive, façades of subsequent castles and palaces served as buffers to the outside world. Although exteriors often projected a statement of power, architectural and cultural expression were highly internal. Notable in later urban palaces, nature was invited on the residents' own terms into the courtyard, the fountain, and the garden. The powerful could achieve privacy in the midst of the public domain. Privacy was the ultimate urban luxury.

Centuries later the suburban dweller strives for the same ideal: the privatization of life. As with the castle and palace, the American home is an internalized affair: life is lived on the inside. Behind a decorative exterior commonly derivative of romantic interpretations of historical European architecture, the resident escapes the discomforts and insecurities of the urban fabric within the sufficiency and safety of an environment complete with lawns, swimming pools, game rooms, utilities, household appliances, and elaborate security systems. Through the ubiquitous medium of television—a type of technological "periscope" or "castle tower" to the outside—the suburbanite becomes, in a sense, omnipresent. In the world, but not of the world," he or she is spatially, but not culturally, separated. Within the borders of the home the dweller has attained privacy and power. The home has become the castle.

The Schlossgeist Series incorporates three distinct art-making approaches. The primary castle imagery, based on the preliminary on-location studies and documentation, are created in my studio in oil on primed paper—thus "distanced" two steps from the original landscape subject. The center panel's Geist/Spielzug figures, handheld children's toys, are drawn directly from life in raw pigment and pastel—thus "distanced" one step from the subject. The third and abstract panels, painted in hand-mixed pigment and acrylic medium, are, in a sense, not "distanced" at all, but expressed directly and intuitively by characteristics suggested by the Geist images, related domestic patterns found in the home and garden, and the respective legends of the project sites.


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