I mounted “Urbanity,” an acrylic on panel board, in a recessed frame which sets off the dimensionality of the piece. It’s headed for shows in both October and November. More on those events later. Urbanity began as a journey into doodling. The beat felt, though spontaneous, had a rhythm that seemed to lack all cadence while I was doing it. It reminded me of Jake Saks, a character in Mercy in Masquerade, one of my novels. Jake stepped into a moment of squalor in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The Norfolk Hotel to be exact. He spends a restless night after flying for what seemed like days.
Here’s the excerpt. “Jake fell in and out of sleep tracing the slow walk of a gecko across the ceiling and listening to the interruptions of street-side clamor. His first step the next morning cast him into a bustling crowd of black faces in the middle of a traffic jam. Instead of zebras, lions and elephants stretching as far as human eyes could see, he smelled diesel fuel and gasoline mixed with sewage. Jake was now part of an alien culture; the only thing that fit was his sweated brow. Boys repaired potholes on the roads with rocks and begged for payment from passing drivers. Girls sold newspapers, giant tomatoes, small bunches of bananas, and themselves at street lights. Street children and people maimed from disease, life circumstance, or horrific accidents begged at every corner. He caught an alleyway glimpse of displaced skeletal figures hunched over cooking fires lit inside large LIDO milk cans. Suddenly, a man who must have sensed his newness approached. “No, this is not good, bwana.””
Maybe this was my subconscious attempt to capture that feeling in just two dimensions and with paint. Impossible? Perhaps.
“Heartache.” On display during “RED” …. a JULY exhibition at Gallery 360focused on the color red running from the 5th to the 31st in downtown Vancouver, Washington at the Esther Short Park.
Longing has a force. After a beloved life passes there is grief and hearts that ache. The beat felt, though spontaneous, has a rhythm that seems to lack all cadence. “Heartache” is an attempt to capture that feeling in just two dimensions and with paint. Impossible? Perhaps. However, I know this piece is one I couldn’t produce again no matter the effort, something resting at the edge of human comprehension, like departed souls and the residual longing for them to be once again. Heartache is an example of what many painters know: the struggle, and the inevitable war waged against the limitations of a given medium and the emotions working inside the mind of the one attempting to express them.
Hiding in the Scraps. This simple piece had a most unusual outcome. The idea came last winter. A blackened backboard. Some Scraps from my bin and … Voilà! Then an April surprise. “Hiding in the Scraps”won third place at the Society of Washington’ Artist’s Show and Sale at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, Washington in the category “Water-Media-Under-Glass. Take a look at some of other winners among the 85 artists and 208 pieces on exhibit. I’m humbled and honored to have participated.
Friends in any Weather. This simple piece received a lot of comments from followers as it developed. In fact the title chosen came from a viewer suggestion. The idea for this started last winter in the midst of ice and snow. Juicy watercolor was brushed on paper and place outside to freeze. The color did it’s thing and the result sat in my studio staring at me until spring. Then, Voilà! Enjoy.
Preparing for spring with two shows back to back. Three entries in the Society of Washington Art Show April 27 – 30 at the Vancouver Water Resource Center and six (6) show for the month of May at the Three Creeks Community Library in Salmon Creek. Each venue is different and the art displayed will be specific to that venue. All original art shown is for sale and reproductions are available upon request.
Society of WA Artists
Vancouver Water Resource Center Community Room
4600 SE Columbia Way,
Vancouver, WA 98661
May 6 – June 1
Three Creeks Community Library
800-C NE Tenney Rd.
Vancouver, WA 98685
Running Before the Storm, gifted to Art for the Life of Elephants in the summer of 2015 by artist and teacher Mary Ann Harkness, is this month’s pick and dedicated to the memory of Satao 2 who was savagely killed by two poachers in the Tsavo National Conservation Area in Kenya. Mary’s watercolor, one of my favorites, is her painting from a photo she took during a safari through Tsavo National Park in 1967 when she was in Kenya with World Campus Afloat. The piece depicts just one occasion; a day when she came across an elephant herd. “The piece shows exactly what we saw,” she told me, ” By the end of the day I had stopped taking photos of elephants because we had seen so many roaming across the park.”
Now there are only 6 of the big tuskers left within Tsavo reserve (twice the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park) is home to the highest population of large-tusked elephants in the world, the ‘super tuskers’, and a devastating blow to their gene pool. There are now approximately 25-30 these magnificent creatures – the super tuskers – left in the whole of Africa and only 15 emerging tuskers (young bulls who have the genes and potential to become tuskers).
When Mary Anne heard the news she said, “It’s very sad to think they are almost gone. Unimaginable. Wish I had taken more photos.”
ALE’s hope is to gift this piece in exchange for a direct donation to Save the Elephants in Kenya via the Wildlife Conservation Network in San Francisco. Our fear is these elephants have nowhere to run or hide. It has been very difficult in the US to draw attention to any cause these days with trumpets of another kind dominating the media. And to be truthful, ALE is not at all optimistic about the future of elephants in the years ahead. Nonetheless we must confess the difficulty we feel in letting go of our desire to help those on the ground in Kenya trying to the largest of mammals on earth.
Goodbye Satao 2. We hope you can find peace now in the memory of those who once witnessed the runs you once made for the joy of living and from storms that were short-lived.
Art for the Life of Elephants has three entries in the March 18 and 19th Annual Spring Art and Craft Show hosted by the Battle Ground, Washington Art Alliance. The theme for the 2017 show, which has become the largest judged and juried show in Southwest Washington, is “Flights of Fancy”. The ALE entries are: “Potential”, “Orange Star” and “Enchanted Forest” by Gary Watson.
A Point of Simplicity. Sometimes you see things differently. After about a year of rest in my “art study bin” I re-discovered this piece, made a few touch ups here and there and decided “simplicity” can be revealing.