Posted in Musings, port madison History

Emblem of hope

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It is fitting that the Vickers memorial in Kane cemetery on Bainbridge Island’s north end stands high above the remains of Port Madison’s more illustrious and wealthy citizens.
Engineer Vickers was oiling the shaft on the venerable, paddle wheel steamer, the Politkovsky, when the crank fell on his head and sent him to this early grave.  The local Masons then took up a charitable collection to order a Carrara marble statue from Italy. 
  Port Madison was then a hard working settlement of shipwrights, millhands and  colorful characters who shared a love for theatre.  I seem to recall reading that Edwin Booth appeared here.  While I can’t verify this particular, historical trivia, I prefer to live in a world where America’s greatest interpreter of Shakespeare intoned his lilting, Hamlet soliloquy under the  locally-hewn rafters of the Mason’s Hall.
  More certain, is that their love for the arts resulted in this moving gesture to an unfortunate member of the working poor.
She gazes into the cedar canopy, her left hand elegantly steadying an anchor while, below, carved in low relief on the pedestal, is depicted the venerable Polly, her paddle wheels churning the stone-gray waters of Puget Sound.
  Joseph Conrad once said that to raise an anchor you must first let it go.  I’m not sure what he meant by this laconic statement.  Perhaps it is a salty, zen koan referring to a living paradox at the heart of the human condition. Spiritual progress often involves a conflict between opposing impulses of wanderlust and a need to stake out a permanent domain.  Perhaps such a dynamic led this British sailor across the Atlantic to seek his fortune here.
  Perhaps Conrad’s words also suggest another dichotomy.  More than a tribute to a single, unfortunate immigrant, the sculpture  also commemorates our highest cultural and artistic ideals as translated into meaningful action.  These values are true because they are based on the gold standard of love and charity.
She is an angelic presence whose power of flight seems to be granted by that very stone anchor; as if she were about to ascend loftier spheres by virtue of it’s symbolic weight as a weathered emblem of hope.

Posted in Paintings in Progress, Uncategorized

Mars-An Artwork in Progress

mars 3The paintings have each taken on planetary aspects and this one seems to be heading toward Mars.  I’ve been trying to preserve a  loose, fluid handling, but it always becomes a struggle.

It’s like meditation.  When sitting, my mind wanders into monkey territory and I need to refocus-come back to the breath, mantra or visualization.  And this is Okay.  I’ve heard it said that meditation was about shedding light into the darker corners of confusion and afflictive emotions; confronting obstacles, not avoiding them.  Something similar is being played out on canvas.

Ghostly figures emerge from pools of raw umber, terra rosa and paynes gray as if they wanted to give me tips on technique.  Maybe they want to tell me it’s all good-just chill and take up a new canvas when things get too thick.

And since these posts are a big part of this process, I’ve decided they should also be  more spontaneous-straight from the heart.  Just whip it out without worrying it too much.

At the same time, I’ve continued to grapple with Jerusalem.  I read of Los’s (poetic genius) struggles with Urizen (reasoning power) to re-establish harmony among the 4 Zoas (similar to Jung’s 4 functions) in the imaginative project of building Jerusalem.  There are are verses that, while memorizing them, beguile me with their stunning imagery and painterly use of upper case letters.  Some have all the pithy weight of a zen koan.

  In my Exchanges every Land

Shall walk, & mine in every Land,

Mutual shall build Jerusalem,

Both heart in heart & hand in hand.