The Joy of Painting With John

John Lurie as featured in Painting With John (HBO)


I really enjoyed the first episode of John Lurie’s new show Painting with John, which debuted last night on HBO. Lurie’s sideways sensibility is charming, and I can't say enough about the wonderful quality of his low rumbling voice. Like the brief but brilliant late night radio he hosted in 2014, it’s a laconic and playful but also deeply warm, pairing Lurie’s captivating experimental blues and jazz with nature footage of his Caribbean home and closeups of his intricately colored paintings.

As evidenced by the episode, Lurie is playing the anti-Bob Ross, irreverent and discursive. But like Fishing With John before it, there’s a meditative ease to the program that isn’t unlike The Joy of Painting. John jokingly insists his trees aren’t happy——they're miserable, he sneers archly——but it’s invitational nonetheless, exuding an energy that makes me think about some afternoon in my mother’s studio apartment in Chandler. Bob’s soft murmur on PBS Channel 8. Mom’s oil paints, a burning incense I thought stunk. Soft pushes of brushes on canvas. 


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