Great Gulf. 2014.
Oil on Canvas.
24” x 36”.
The two larger landscapes here depict areas on the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. I have made paintings in the White Mountains for many years, but these are the first above the tree line. There are several wonderful Homer paintings of day-trippers on the mountain, working with easels erect and palettes in hand. Outings of that kind are possible on the best days of summer, but when fall arrives the Presidentials transform into a treacherous place. It is a place characterized by extremes. The second highest wind speed on earth was recorded on top of Mt. Washington in 1934. And the mountain remains in temperatures well below zero through most of the winter. Its geology is essentially a great pile of broken granite, but despite its inhospitality, it is an environment rich in lichens and rugged plant life. And there is actually a species of butterfly unique to Mt. Washington: Oenneis melissa semidea.
I believe in some ways my engagement with this place parallels scientific activity conducted in extreme environments, including superfund wastelands. There is in both the potential for secrets and knowledge to be revealed. These paintings represent an aesthetic and spiritual exploration of a world that for all its barrenness has a uniquely powerful and mysterious emotional gravity.
By contrast, Palms in the Jungle is a painting made on site in the lush forests along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. There is a cacophonous array of flora in this distinctly different bio-diverse region.