George Widener once explained that “calendar dates have rhythm, they have motion, they reflect, they balance each other.” His search for balance resonates as well with his frequent use of symmetry to structure his cityscapes, and his use of palindromes (for instance, 21.12.2112.21:12 and December 21, 2112, at 9:12 p.m.). If his drawings appear to be encoded, he nonetheless argues that in a “very dramatic technological future,” intelligent machines will be able to “read the subtleties of [his] art works,” and then fully achieve his ambitions for a more “holistic kind of environment.” Here, TGIF stands for “Thank God it’s Friday,” a common expression of relief at the end of the workweek, in anticipation of the weekend. This piece, like many others, is drawn on glued-together white paper napkins that he stained beforehand with tea.
Valérie Rousseau, “TGIF Booklet,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.