This fall, I was part of a group of 17 local artists that each made 23 non-identical prints or individual works on paper for an art exchange. The pieces were collated and each participating artist got a complete set, leaving several extra sets for exhibition. Based on an earlier theme, this was one of my initial works for the exchange. Read more about the New City Arts Artist Exchange here.
1What can I
say? There’s nothing to say about
trees. That’s the point. More significantly, it seems there’s nothing to see about trees either. Not any more. We
have seen trees. But as it happens, “the hardest thing of all to see is what is
really there” (J. A. Baker).
find a major publisher for A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean was
told by way of explanation, "These stories have trees in them” — as if trees
could ever lose our interest.
makes me feel my time like the corkscrew willow in the backyard with its short
life. Now the shoot from the stump is nearly as tall as the sapling we planted.
Nor does anything make me feel my time more than the weeping cherry beside the
willow or the ground beneath its large canopy covered in a tiny forest of weeping
cherries that will never grow. And nothing can make me know my time the way two
barren hillsides do, now forested on both slopes.
say, “Ah, what an age it is / When to speak of trees is almost a crime / For it
is a kind of silence about injustice!” (Bertolt Brecht). And you would be
5On the other
hand, as I round a familiar bend in the road, I meet the ghost of a beloved sycamore.
The profile of its absence stands out like a phantom limb. Anticipating the low crook in its
trunk, its gentle tilt back toward the bank, it is not there. I never
photographed or painted it, though I meant to. Where could I park my car?
have taught us how quickly our horizons can be altered, how the vertical
becomes horizontal. The sugar maple and the black locust are also gone.
famously claimed, “the inner element of the work is its content.” His
non-objective Parisian canvases isolate and distill the graphic elements of
form in order to compose an affective symphony for sight. Lauded and condemned
for his immaterialism, it’s sometimes forgotten that he thought the principle
of art was the principle of the cosmos. The reduction and abstraction of visual
phenomena is not a matter of preference for geometry over biology but of
attention to the way the visible mark — a line, for example — impacts us
interiorly. If we bracket the objectness of the object for a moment, if we stop
seeing things as this or that,
according to use or convention, we might perceive inwardly — perhaps for the
first time — the lilting vertical of the black locust in the open pasture with
its loose shock of centric lines. “The world
* Vulture Sunning (I)
* To Dwell in Breadth (Airport Oak) (IV)
* Hagiography (III)
The World Sounds (II)
* Hedgerow (II)
* Mondrian's Tree
* The World Sounds (I)
* To Dwell in Breadth (Airport Oak) (III)
* Ingleside Sugar Maple (I)
* Vulture Sunning (II)
Part I of a diptych, Black Locust of My Heart (I-II)
* Potomac (I)
All work: gouache, ink, pen and watercolor pencil on paper (2010-2012)