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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tree’

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“The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets by it but what he becomes by it.”

–John Ruskin

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John Ruskin (1819-1900) was yet another of those 19th century British jack-of-all-trades. He was an accomplished artist, social commentator, philanthropist and the leading art critic of the Victorian Age. He was also a prolific writer on a wide variety of subjects, from archaeology to ornithology and everything in between. He also wrote stinging polemics calling for needed social change in Britain at that time. He was the British equivalent of a renaissance man.

Born into a wealthy merchant family, Ruskin may not have experienced much physical labor in his life but he obviously toiled in other ways to have achieved so much in his time on this planet. I think his words above on how we are changed from toil have a certain ring of truth.

I believe there are rewards for hard work that go far beyond the immediate material compensation we receive. It forms our behaviors, our tolerances and our perception of our place in the world. It teaches us what is important and what is not. It gives us focus and discipline and the experience that may one day transform into wisdom. It gives us identity and  purpose.

And it applies for everyone, from clerks to plumbers to scientists to housekeepers. Even artists.

Hard work has been a recurring theme in some of my work over the years. It’s definitely the theme of the painting at the top, Toil’s Reward, which is included in my Moments and Color show now hanging at the West End Gallery. There’s a richness and warmth in the colors of this piece that feels like a reward in itself.

If you come out this Saturday, August 17, to see it at the West End Gallery, say around 1 PM, you can take part in my annual Gallery Talk. I promise you I will be working hard. Maybe even sweating profusely. But hopefully, you will be the one being rewarded, maybe even taking home the original painting that will be given away. Even if you don’t win the big one, there are some other smaller prizes that you have a pretty good chance of getting. And besides that, it’s usually an entertaining time.

Like they say, it’s not hard work if you like what you’re doing.

See you Saturday!

 

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“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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The painting shown above is Light and Wisdom, part of my show, Moments and Color, that is currently on the walls of the West End Gallery. It’s a personal favorite of mine and one that I think sometimes get overlooked by other work that is larger or brighter. Maybe it’s just that I see a lot of personal symbolism in it. The background of the sky resembles a maze which symbolizes the search for something, for example. And it has my recurring symbols of the Red Roofs, the path that runs toward a distant point, the guide trees that frame the scene, the far horizon and, of course, the Red Tree arriving at a moment of realization in the form of the light from the rising sun.

It’s a meaningful piece for me and my hope is that others will see that in it as well.

I love the lines below it from T.S. Eliot, feeling that they express so well what I see in this painting. Life often feels like a constant search for some vaguely defined object– knowledge, wisdom, love, experience, etc.– that will make us somehow whole. Yet, as is often the case, we only reach wholeness within ourselves, in that place where the journey began. Maybe that is why I chose this painting for this bit of verse from Eliot– it has a sense of wholeness that has been ultimately fulfilled by realizing that the answer was in itself.

The answer, the light that illuminates our meaning, is always near, always just waiting for us to really see it for what it is.

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You can see Light and Wisdom at the West End Gallery where I will be giving my annual Gallery Talk this coming Saturday, August 17, beginning at 1 PM. As mentioned here before, the Gallery Talks always features some great conversation, some laughs, occasional tears and the pièce de résistance, a drawing for an original painting — or maybe two?–along with some other pretty neat prizes. Hope you can make it there!

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Joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass: in the blue serenity of the sky: in the reckless exuberance of spring: in the severe abstinence of grey winter: in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame: in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright: in living, in the exercise of all our powers: in the acquisition of knowledge… Joy is there everywhere.

 

—Rabindranath Tagore

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The painting at the top is part of Moments and Color, my solo exhibit currently on display at the West End Gallery. It’s titled An Exuberant Life and is a 24″ by 24″ canvas.

I don’t know that we are living in a time of joy at this point in history. At least, not in a way where one day we as a people will look back and remember it as a golden age filled with good will and There’s certainly an abundance of anxiety, ignorance, anger and about any other negative attribute you can come up with.

I believe that in times like these, we have to actively seek and identify the joy and exuberance that exists in this world. We take so much that surrounds us for granted as we bounce along the bumpy road we’re on at the moment. We find ourselves often blinded by our outrage or so inwardly turned in a defensive pose that we lose track of our surroundings.

Forget to see simple things. A ray of sunlight. The beauty in a tiny paused moment of silence. Tasting the pleasant bitterness of coffee on the tongue.

I could do a long laundry list of my own small pleasures, things that give me a sense of the joys in this world. But they are mine alone. You must find your own. Your list of joys must be your own sanctuary in these times. You’ll know them at once from the feeling of peaceful satisfaction they instill in you.

Maybe finding the exuberance of your own life will influence others to seek their own.

That would be a good thing.

And that’s kind of what I see in this painting– finding one’s joy and affecting the world with it. That is certainly something we could use in these times.

 

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Received a small package the other day. On my first glance at it, I couldn’t tell where it was from. It was in packaging that was reminiscent of those used by my longtime friend in Northern Island but the hand lettering on the address was a bit more legible. The return address didn’t help. It listed a city and a postal code but no country or state.

It wasn’t until I spotted the lettering on the affixed stamps– Kiwi Stamp— that I knew from where it originated.

Ah, New Zealand.

It turns out that I had been approached a while back with an inquiry as to whether a New Zealand magazine called Tui Motu InterIslands, an independent Catholic magazine, could use one of my paintings for an upcoming issue. I had consented and had put it in the back of my mind until it appeared on Saturday.

I was pleased to see that this edition dealt with the search for truth. In fact, the title of the painting, Seeking Truth, was the same as the headline used on the cover along with its Maori equivalent, Te Rapu I te Tika. My image accompanied an article that dealt with the use of critical thinking to find truth in the flood of opinion and falsehoods that we are faced with on a daily basis. The author, Paul Tankard, makes a great point in saying that the skepticism that many people hold for journalism of any sort is as naive as those who have a blind acceptance of what they read online or in print.

The name of the American president* was mentioned several times through the issue which was not a surprise given that the subject was truth. Obviously, this manchild’s tenuous relationship with the truth ( and his love affair with misstatements, half-truths and outright lies) obviously has had a rippling effect on the rest of the world, one that has them concerned about the future viability of truth.

As the writer, Binoy Kampmark, of another article on the effects of unchecked lies stated: The tissue that binds communities matters; the untruth tears it. And a community unable to detect lies is, according to renowned US journalist Walter Lippman, one without liberty.

From here in the US to every far point on this planet, we are at a dangerous point in history. The folks in New Zealand understand this. How we see and determine the truth may well determine our future. Real engagement along with critical examination is needed more than ever if we are going to have a future based in truth.

Truth is righteousness.

So, let’s make seeking truth our mission. As my friends in New Zealand put it–Te Rapu I te Tika.

Thanks to Tui Motu InterIslands for including my work in your fine magazine. Nice to see the Red Tree in that context.

 

 

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“You say I am repeating 
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own 
And where you are is where you are not.”

― T.S. Eliot, East Coker

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This is a another painting from my upcoming solo show, Moments and Color, at the West End Gallery that opens Friday. It is called Meditatio and it is a painting I have shown here before. It was painted last year but as it sat here in the studio awaiting this show, I saw things in it that made me want  to change the painting a bit.

I lightened the center of it with a few small additions of new paint to the moon and Red Tree, giving it more light. That very much changed the attitude of the piece but it transformed even more when I changed the plain black band that had surrounded the central image to a bronzed burgundy. This new band color altered the experience of the painting, giving the whole thing a warmer glow.

I thought it was strong painting before, one with a meditative presence that definitely stood out in my mind. But these seemingly small changes transformed it greatly. It still feels meditative, as the title implies, but in a more welcoming way.

I see these words above from T.S. Eliot’s East Coker as part of a conversation between the Red Tree and the rising sun/moon, who points out that it repeats its lesson with each new rise. And though it is repetitive, it is no less meaningful and instructive.

I will let you read into it what you will but I particularly love the last line here– And where you are is where you are not.

That could very well sum up my work.

Hope you get a chance to see this piece at the West End Gallery. The opening is Friday, from 5-7:30 PM.

 

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“And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek . . . And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. ‘You too come forth,’ He will say, ‘Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!’ And we shall all come forth, without shame and shall stand before him. And He will say unto us, ‘Ye are swine, made in the Image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!’ And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, ‘Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?’ And He will say, ‘This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.’ And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before him . . . and we shall weep . . . and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand everything! . . . and all will understand” 

Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment

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This new painting is an 18″ by 36″ canvas that is included in Moments and Color, my annual show of new work at the West End Gallery that opens this coming Friday. It was completed for quite some time before I finally settled on a title for it. Every title that came to mind seemed too trite or too well worn for this piece.

The Red Tree and its placement here give me the impression of someone standing before a group while delivering some sort of moral or spiritual instruction. Sermon on the Mount sort of stuff. The setting here has a placid feel and the location of the Red Roofed houses give the impression that they are rapt listeners.

It all gives this piece a feeling of great serenity.

With this in mind, I finally settled on The Homily as a title. A homily is a story that is often part of a religious sermon that demonstrates a moral or spiritual lesson in practical terms and contemporary settings. And I can see that here. Without it espousing the tenets of any religion, it has a spiritual feeling for me, one that serves as a practical illustration of peace and acceptance. It’s as though the Red Tree is calmly telling those around it to see the beauty and tranquility that surrounds them even in times of chaos.

There’s a sense of certainty to this piece that feels religious to me. It’s the kind of certainty I never had for myself or fully understood in others. But looking at this now, I can almost understand that certainty. Its actually beyond religious. I see it more as an inner belief that one has that allows them to remain calm in dire times, knowing that they have the ability to persist.

That even though the world around them changes, that they can adapt and prosper because their core values remains intact.

And maybe what this, a representation of those core values, whatever it is that brings us inner peace and serenity.

It’s early and my eyes and mind are still trying to focus so these few paragraphs may not be a homily. But they are an attempt, like this painting, to point out our need for peace, for those moments of tranquility that allow us to continue onward in a world that often seems out of our control.

Maybe its the understanding that Dostoyevsky speaks of at the top.

Hope you find it for yourself.

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This painting, The Homily, is part of Moments and Color, my exhibit of new work now hanging at the West End Gallery in Corning. There is an opening reception this Friday, July 12, running from 5-7:30 PM. Hope to see you there.

 

 

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Let the New Day Begin- at the West End Gallery Now

The work for this year’s edition of my annual solo show, Moments and Color, is now hanging in the West End Gallery, all ready for the opening this coming Friday, July 12. I put together a video slideshow of the work from the show which is below.

This was an interesting project, in that it was hard setting the lineup for the images in this video. I couldn’t frontload the video with what I might consider the best pieces because I couldn’t rank them. There’s great consistency across the board that made deciding difficult. Each time I tried to move a piece up or down in the lineup, it didn’t seem to make a difference in the quality or feel of the video. I think you could watch this backwards and would get the same visceral experience from it.

And I like that. That consistency has always been a point of pride for me. I like to think that every piece, from the smallest and simplest up to the largest and most complicated, has the same level of consideration and effort.  After all, big or small, they all represent me out in the world and to skimp on one in effort or any other way diminishes them all.

This show has a lot of facets, a lot of familiar and new looks, but it just hangs together well. It’s a show that gives me a lot of satisfaction on a number of levels. Please take a look at the video and if you’re in the Corning area, please stop in for the opening on Friday, from 5-7:30 PM. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

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