Any Act Red – Bruce E. Smith
Acrylic on canvas
This is an acrylic painting done by Bruce E. Smith, titled Any Act Red and, if you so choose, you can find it on the western side of Bucksbaum. There’s a lot going on here. The most identifiable part of this painting is the girl in the left hand corner. She is holding some kind of cup/can in her left hand and painting the headboard of a bed with her right. This is no ordinary bed, however. Alas, it lacks a mattress. The frame is partially painted with white, red, yellow and pink. There is a break in the foot of the bed, as well. The girl is wearing a blue dress with a white collar, belt and stockings. Her skin is also white and she pales in comparison to her wavy black hair and black shoes.
The rest of the image is composed of a variety of shapes, paint smudges, numerals and letters. Directly above the girl, the word “NAME” is printed and he number 10 has been partially painted over with white paint that is dripping on her head. There are many red splotches of paint, including one below the bed. Behind the girl and continuing into the right corner of the painting, there is some kind of structure behind her. Thinking logically, I’m going to say they are two pieces of furniture, because I think she’s in a bedroom. What appears to be a dresser also has a red splotch on the front where the drawers are would be located. Scattered on these structures and throughout the rest of the painting are lots “B”s and “BB”s. There are also the words “OR”, “OVER”, “HER”, “RED”, and “ACT”. “ABC” is painted in large letters on the far right side and in smaller letters, “ANY ACT RED BY HER TEN OR EPERGNE” is painted at the bottom.
So that’s what it looks like. Now I’ll tell you what I think the hidden meanings and secrets are. What comes to mind immediately when I look at this is Color by Numbers. The numbers and letters seem to be instructing someone (the viewer/the girl/both simultaneously). The red splotches indicate to me that those areas will be painted entirely in red at a later point, because in Color by Numbers, you often mark a spot with a dab of color so you’ll remember to do it later. The word “NAME” and the “ABC” remind me school, because we learn the alphabet in school and we have to put our name of every single damn activity paper.
There is one red splotch beneath the bed and for some reason it appears to be blood to me. I don’t find the rest of this painting daunting, so that seems unfitting. But I see what I see - and that’s a little pool of blood.
The girl isn’t wearing clothes that are worn nowadays. I’d say it’s more Victorian era. I’m unsure why the artist chose to depict her in historical attire. Maybe Color by Numbers is an activity more closely associated with their time period rather than present times. She’s also completely oblivious to the paint dripping on her head.
When considering the entire piece, I get the impression that this is a work-in-progress and that it has to do with childhood. I like it because the Color by Numbers thing engages the viewer. It’s like a puzzle that we have to finish. The only thing that bothers me is the unexplained use of “RED”. It’s in the title and on the painting, but I can’t figure out its importance. – Hannah Kelley