Posted in Paintings in Progress

A summons to set out

At ebb tide the water swirls  toward a North forever receding beyond the gray headland.   Shadows of cedars stretch along the foreshore where tanned humans tourists roast mammals on spits; their gaudy shirts billowing like the capes of  fishwives on a storm-wracked shore.  Otters writhe on the grassy bank.port madisson images 018

I hear the north wind as a  summons to set out.  From the wheelhouse, my eye is led toward the harbor entrance where it opens into Port Madison Bay.  Knowing such an expanse of open sea lies just around the bend gives me a  sense of spaciousness and freedom.  The immensity is continuous with the confined space of the harbor.

I suppose it also has to do with the long history of this historic mill town and shipyard where lumber schooners were built on the west shore in the late 1800’s.  The 1906 tug,  Noreen, lies at Halvorson’s dock just off the mouth of Salmon Creek, her high pilot house tilted back haughtily as if in defiance of the steep waves of the inland sea.

Vickers Memorial by Craig Spencer
Vickers Memorial by Craig Spencer

I’ve been working on two versions of the Vickers memorial, trying to get that feeling of expansiveness the sculpture seems to generate. I wonder how much this has to do with the harmonious distribution of masses and voids, and how much is due to her angelic status-what she represents.

There is too much emphasis on the precious object in art-on its monetary value, as if that were the sole end of art. The art scene is a big Antiques Roadshow. This fixation doesn’t see beyond the material product to the more ineffable virtues of what art does, how it feels and whether it confers upon the environment a greater sense of spaciousness. For greater spaciousness is always a virtue, and good art amplifies that poetic space which is continuous with the spaciousness inside ourselves we find in moments of revery.

Author:

I am an artist, writer and sailor in the Pacific Northwest.

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