29 DC Ground Swell Interview

As I stood looking at it, up sidled a flaccid-cheeked woman about 50 years old. She was decked out in plastic rose glass frames and a T-shirt sporting faded flowers and a teddy bear. Behind her stood a man her age and an older woman who might have been her mother. I approached the teddy bear woman, hoping to include the others too, but they shrank back, and she seemed less than thrilled to have been singled out.

"Are you from DC?" I asked.

"No, we're visiting from upstate New York. We live on a lake so I know water, and the sky is perfect for how it looks over water. The buoy is exactly like buoys look. And look at these lines trailing away." She pointed at two pale blue stripes perpendicular to the dark blue waves, and suddenly I remembered seeing similar tracks whenever I stared out over water.

"Do you know what a ground swell is?" I asked.

She pursed her lips and shook her head. "No idea. Did Hopper live on the water?"

"He and his wife had a place on Cape Cod."

"Yeah, this reminded me of the Kennedys' on Hyannisport. Was water a specialty for Hopper?"

"Yes. He was also known for city scenes. He did the one of the people in the late-night diner."

"Oh, the one with Marilyn Monroe?"

"Yes," I winced because there is just such an adaptation of Nighthawks by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein,
, a poster titled Boulevard of Broken Dreams, in which Hopper's cultural icon is peopled by four other cultural icons: Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Elvis Presley. "There is a version like that. I'm studying him because he's considered one of the most American painters."

"When I think of American painters," she huffed, "I think of someone more like Norman Rockwell."

"Norman Rockwell does everything from photos," Hopper moaned, and added, "They look it, too."

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