Place of refuge

13

Dear Artist,

Near Zion National Park, in the lower left hand corner of Utah is the Kolob reservoir, where at this time of year, an artist can sit at the water’s edge and paint the turning, trembling aspens and the boulders that tumbled there a million years ago. A friend and I had recently decided that while much of what the world is experiencing is toxic right now, one can still nourish oneself on the wind, a paddle and a steep climb.

Yellow Lantern, 2018 Oil on linen 87 1/2 x 108 inches by Suzan Frecon (b.1941)

Yellow Lantern, 2018
Oil on linen
87 1/2 x 108 inches
by Suzan Frecon (b.1941)

Our guide, Joe, is a guy who has spent his life dangling from a carabiner in Zion. “When I’m climbing the mountain,” he says, “it’s like I’m floating.” He squirts the overflow from his chewing tobacco on a distant rock and slings a hundred-foot rope over his shoulder. There is no internet in Joe’s day. As he jetés, freestyle from foothold to foothold, his dented metal water bottle swinging at his hip, we tag behind like pilgrims in the curious hope of catching what he’s got.

Our party is delirious with yard-time. Lockdown has primed us for a keen ascent and patience with the sap and sand. We call out guesses at the taxonomy of the ponderosa pines and the cause of the mineral sheen that bleeds an iridescent varnish from the sedimentary rock face, before Joe fills us in. The curves and swales of Zion’s canyons cut late September’s cerulean sky into patches of flat form and colour. Paintable and impossible to paint — like when A.Y. Jackson came to Western Canada and denounced the trees as being too close together — we are swallowed in the canyon slots and standing pools, our terrors hushed by the roaring, rushing whitewater. At night, retired under a dome of lite-brite constellations blaring through an ink-black universe, the wind churns through the canvas of our tent, but we are asleep.

Vernal Breath of Plum, 2019 Oil on linen 87 3/8 x 108 inches by Suzan Frecon

Vernal Breath of Plum, 2019
Oil on linen
87 3/8 x 108 inches
by Suzan Frecon

Sincerely,

Sara

PS: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” (Frank Lloyd Wright)

Esoterica: Back at sea level a few days later, Peter and I board a plane to New York. Here, another friend and I agree that the galleries, now open, are one more excellent choice for a place of refuge. “I need this,” he says. I meet another friend for lunch and we cherry pick our heart’s content of fall shows — Carmen Herrera at Lisson, Robert Mangold at Pace, Suzan Frecon at Zwirner — a trifecta of colourfield for a post-lockdown world — New York is diligently coming awake. It is not yet cold. Standing amongst my own paintings, up four flights of stairs in the heart of Chelsea, I once again feel the universe simplify, and remember last week’s mountain. “What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind,” wrote E. M. Forster, “if they do not enter into our daily lives?”

Stone Cathedral, 2019 Oil on linen 108 1/2 x 87 5/8 inches by Suzan Frecon

Stone Cathedral, 2019
Oil on linen
108 1/2 x 87 5/8 inches
by Suzan Frecon

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“My sun sets to rise again.” (Robert Browning)

 

 


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13 Comments

  1. stephan chmilnitzky on

    Places like Zion are too much to handle for the artist and are caught up in the everyday visitor heart beat…rush, rush,look, look. Best to return and just observe and feel the spirit…it will penetrate.

    • Zion became a touchstone to me as a child, the first national park our family camped in, and I have returned. But Stephan, you are correct: it is overwhelming for an artist. The last time I went there to paint, I sat in my room and drew sketches of trees and mountains through window panes to limit the breathtaking views. And Zion has been overrun with tourists who do nothing but rush from site to site.

  2. I appreciate your beautiful words and the rhythm of your writing, Sarah. Feeling stuck, for want of a better description, we to Highlands NC for a few days to spend time with waterfalls. Under Dry Falls the energy of rushing water, “boulders that tumbled there a million year ago” penetrated my body and renewed my soul. Thanks for the quotes.

  3. This is beautiful and healing. I would like to share this on my facebook feed, but I want to make sure that is ok first. So are we allowed to share this article on social media. I have many artist friends who should know about you and your father’s posts.

  4. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” (Frank Lloyd Wright) and “What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind,” wrote E. M. Forster, “if they do not enter into our daily lives?” These quotes are so powerful to me. Thank you Sara for sharing your cohesive, intelligent letter. I love the fact that you appreciate nature the way you do and the way that your dearest dad did. Nature is truly the most fabulous gift we’ve been given by our Greater Power……….Suszanne

  5. Dear Sara,
    thank you for your inspired letter writing I follow since your dad’s days.
    The trees stand close here – in the Viennese Woods – as well. At times, when I am in the groove to depict their closeness, some of them stand out as beautiful slim creatures from a dream.

    Great quotations.
    Zoltan.

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https://painterskeys.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/purple-series1-2285-1-wpcf_300x295.jpgPurple series #1
Oil on canvas with pyrite and amethyst
48 x 48"/122x122cm

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Candace studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Angers, France but it is her travels in the deserts of Africa and Oman, Antarctica and the Arctic, and sacred sights of Machu Picchu and Petra that serve as her true place of learning. A desire to combine these experiences with a deeper understanding of her own spirituality has provided the underlying focus and inspiration for her paintings.

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