A NOTE ABOUT MY WORK OVER TIME
The visual content of my work ranges from direct observations of the landscape in Vermont, to the quiet, mysterious spaces inside an ancient Egyptian tomb, to the tracks that the smallest subatomic particle leaves in a bubble chamber. For years, my paintings were concerned with the archaeology of lost civilizations, and the fragile and durable surfaces of the past—papyrus fragments, painted tomb walls, ritual Japanese garments, ox bones dug from the base of a tree on a Vermont farm. I read a lot of poetry and am a collector of junk from the streets of the dying jewelry industry in Providence RI, I travel when I can, and what I listen to, eat and smell has influenced my work as well. As a cook, gardener and painter, I trust my senses.
Thirty years ago, as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome, when my work was basically abstract explorations on archaeological themes, I began a serious layman’s study of particle physics. Somewhat surprisingly, the attempt to understand subatomic space and time—particularly the relationship between the observer and the observed— led me back to one of the oldest of artistic impulses, the painting and drawing of the landscape.
These currents were joined in a series of paintings about the work of Renaissance astronomers and philosophers, thinkers whose limited technology rooted them to a particular time and place but whose theoretical models of the universe crystallized their dreams.
During the past twenty years, I’ve rooted much of my work in a specific time and place, namely the changing landscape around my Vermont studio. In a series of works, from postcard-sized gouaches to six by seven foot canvases, I’ve used the traditional form of landscape painting to explore the interplay between the observation of the natural world and the nature of consciousness itself, what Gregory Bateson called ”an essential unity.”
In my large-scale works I continued to develop a study of how the natural elements of a landscape--rock, field, sky and water—can be invested with thoughts, and history and feeling through the process of painting. Paint has always felt like an infinitely open medium to me. For several years, I found myself fascinated with labyrinths; both physical and metaphorical mazes merging mind and nature. Fragments of both personal and historical memory got woven into layered familiar glimpses of land I know well. These pieces opened up new, more sweeping gestures in the works and drove me to try working on different formats and different surfaces as well. Often I found myself needing to work on studies from a particular tree to ripples in a pond surface which generated many black and white drawings as well as large scale (up to 22 feet) paintings.
For years I produced many small (5x7 inch) gouache works on paper each week as a sort of diary of ideas of everything I could cram into those magical little spaces. Now I am working in oil on smallish panels in the same experimental spirit and with a joyous hand. Everything from dragonfly nymphs’ territory to musings on ancient Greek sculpture has found a way into this growing library of works on panel.