This is the only Edward Hopper painting I’ve ever really liked–all because of the collie. It’s called Cape Cod Evening. Hopper created this in 1934. I can go to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. at any time to admire it. NGA’s major exhibit of Hopper’s work ran from September 16, 2007 to January 21, 2008 in the East Building. The West Building’s major exhibit at that time was the British artist J.M.W. Turner. I much preferred Turner because I feel more hopeful and optimistic studying his paintings. Hopper usually makes me think of and feel loneliness, isolation, disconnection, and discord among people. In the painting above, I wonder what the dog’s name is. And I really want the dog to calm down so I can pet it (if the scene were real, of course, and if I were actually there). Most of all. I wonder what’s troubling the people, and who they are. Is it money woes? Have they lost a family member or friend? Will they have to move? Or are they angry with each other?
Recently, I discovered the 2016 anthology In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper. Lawrence Block is the editor. I love what his wife of many years tells him: “You’ve been at that computer forever. Why don’t you go over to the Whitney and look at some pictures?”
Many well-known writers have contributed, such as Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King. A biographer (and curator) of Hopper’s also contributed a story about a little-known incident in the artist’s life. Her biography, mentioned in the introduction, is worthwhile reading for those new to Hopper–or who just enjoy exploring artists.
I have recommended the book often. Be careful to name the exact title, though. Insert “and” by mistake, like I did, and you may confuse it with a book by Mark Halprin.
The painting below is called Cape Cod Morning. The real painting is on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum–another favorite place. Hopper painted it in 1950. It is the frontispiece of the book, and doesn’t have an accompanying story. This gave me some ideas, but I haven’t started writing them down yet. I’m happy that the paintings are included with each story. Even though you might not enjoy Hopper’s work all that much, you still wonder about the people’s stories. Maybe that’s what he intended.
As I find with most short story collections, this one is not an easy read, but one to be savored. However, I also have a favorite already. When I reread this, I’m pretty sure I’ll notice some things I didn’t before in each one.