I doubt I’m the only one who has ever daydreamed their life into some sort of movie scene just before the ending credits are run. I think it’s natural for a “a dreamer,” a category in which I most certainly belong, to imagine oneself in a story of importance, or at least of narrative significance.  I think of this in being so drawn to the cinematic romanticism in Danielle Mckinney’s paintings. As a viewer, you are able to recognize yourself in her scenes. A record player is subtly heard in the distance, cigarette smoke lingering over you, nothing too loud in this solitary tableau. These paintings slowly stroll through the frame, ever so quietly. That she called her recent solo show Saw My Shadow, is a nod to both existence and individuality, as well as the overwhelming sense that the female characters share the same sounds, drifting into the dream with the viewer. A book critic rightly assessed that Hemingway "impersonated simplicity," and that, too, perfectly reflects Mckinney. Fulsome with details and profound color use, these works also impersonate simplicity, revealing universal moments of respite, veins of religion and the expression of what it is we see in ourselves—importantly, our ideal selves. 

This is a painterly issue and, as it turns out, quite cinematic. Mckinney, Jenna Gribbon, MADSAKI, Hilary Pecis, Cristina BanBan, Khari Turner, to name a few of the artists in the Summer Quarterly, provide vignettes where the stories just flow off the canvas. MADSAKI reveals a world of childhood repression, BanBan weaves in and out of conversations of time, and Gribbon graciously invites you into intimate, personal moments of her life. How interesting that, over the course of the last few months, conversation about selling the digital art of our times has overwhelmingly owned the contemporary art dialogue, and we are nurtured by daydreams and classic cinematic expression. 

One night, like most of us, I was glued to Instagram, transfixed and maybe hoping for inspiration. I admit that, more and more, it rarely arrives in a digital scroll. But one work in particular, The Secret Garden, seen on our cover this issue, emerged onto my feed, almost jarring in its intensity and gaze. The book, the red fingernails, this look of wisdom… maybe even a little annoyance at being interrupted. One of my favorite paintings is Will Barnet’s Woman Reading, and it brought up the emotions of seeing that work for the first time. We've all had the moment, immersed in a good read, when someone voices an untimely inquiry, and you throw that look. It's the essence of that individuality Mckinney channels in her works. Here, that daydream is… broken. And now her character studies the viewer. 

I find this image as the perfect backdrop for these times, this year in particular. We have been in the midst of an arrival of the future that was promised for decades, and over the past few months has become a study in economics and collective consent. We speak of digital art sales more than we speak of the essence of art. But The Secret Garden is the antithesis. Undeniably seductive, that look in the painting is one of contentment with pace and place. That knowing look staring back at you. The soundtrack and ending credits start rolling in this film in my head, and I don't want to forget what a good painting does to the soul. A piercing gaze from behind the fold of a book, it's impersonating simplicity, and that’s damn good. —Evan Pricco

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