Maine has its own character, soul if you wish. I felt it the first morning I woke
up in Maine, in an A-frame on Tom Leighton Point in Washington County, lobster
boats droning off shore, gulls crying, the smell of herring bait. A smudge of islands on the horizon. I had arrived from Scotland, and our two souls bonded. It was love at first sight.
As my work developed, it seemed to be formed by those two places: the
white fishermen’s houses of Jonesport and the whitewashed farms of Scotland; the presence of the Atlantic, sometimes moody and turbulent and other times fresh and clean as linen sheets.
So I worked with those visual stimulants, but the depiction of landscape is
never the end intention. For the creative artist it is the vehicle through which he
expresses something more universal, the landscape of the mind, where we all live no matter our physical location.
John Marin’s seascapes are not just about Maine scenery; “The Written Sea”
comes to mind, a favorite of mine. Marsden Hartley’s paintings of Mount Katahdin
are presences that go beyond Maine—they have the grandeur of a Tahitian god or a Greek hero, like Heracles.
So does it matter where we live? I think it does, for each artist finds his
comfort zone, a place he feels connected to. Van Gogh in Provence, Marin in
Addison, de Kooning on Long Island. It is a place that allows us to communicate
with our surroundings. We use the props at hand, be they hills or harbors; in my
case, clouds, islands, and boats. But are they any different from cypress trees, vineyards, and wheat fields? The trail of a lobster boat echoing the horizon is just,
for me, a necessary line in the composition, which strengthens the final expression.
Artists talk to their surroundings, but not in any local language; after all,
artists are forever from away.
The word Ubuntu, meaning “I am myself because of who we all are”, is a call and a reminder that we, as individuals, are connected to all people, especially in an increasingly globalized world.
What has been a core issue in my own work broadens this concept to “I am myself because we live on Earth” and the responsibility this brings. While we each carry on with our day to day lives, the knowledge that gives us is a much larger context in which to place ourselves. Information about the smallest of particles to the nature of the universe is now available to most people with the click of a button. The more we know, the heavier the responsibility can weigh.
The paintings I’ve chosen here, done since 2002, seek to examine our place in the world, what we depend on for life as we know it, and potential threats to this. While there are no human figures in my work, it is all about being human. While the work is representational, it is abstract in concept. The paintings are asking the viewer to think about these considerations. For example, in the painting Origin, I contemplate the nature of fire: what is its relationship to light and color, its use as a metaphor, and more significantly, its role in the maintenance of life on a micro and macro level?
In the end, I’m shouting out to the world, “Please don’t take this all for granted, it is precious and fragile.”
“In times of darkness humor carries me forward. These Sandwiches were all made before this particular troubling time, but all reflect the need to face adversity and lunacy with laughter and art.” – Lin Lisberger
The light in these dark times often needs to come from within as well as from the community. Seeing beauty in natural forms helps us respond as creative people. Out of the deep forest, the entangled garden and the storm light and strength can come. Going to nature is my response to assert the interconnectedness of all beings.
During this time when the world seems askew and inside-out, I turn to poetry.
The Peace of Wild Things By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I created Rainbow Warrior 31 years ago in response to the removal of native families in the Four Corners area of the southwest from their tribal native lands around Big Mountain. They were relocated so The Peabody Coal Company could strip mine coal. The elders were not happy.
Still today, the energy wars continue as fossil fuel companies plunder sacred native lands and threaten our planet. The elders standing, dancing and praying peacefully on the frigid grounds of Standing Rock shine light into the dark drive of these energy companies. In the drive for profits, the Dakota Access Pipeline aims to move dirty oil at the price of harming our water supplies, disregarding native lands and the rights of tribal treaties and agreements and destroying our planet.
May many Rainbow Warriors fight on!
Walking in nature has been the place where I’ve found light in the current atmosphere of political darkness. It is the place where I’m able to breathe and let all the daily political news dissipate from my mind. I’ve recently used my painting to express my belief that nature is not here to be dominated. It is not a commodity to be used to increase our standard of living or to increase our amount of consumption.
There are so many problems right now with water and food production that it is imperative that we begin to think globally about what is happening to the world’s resources. We must recognize and honor our interdependence with nature and realize that we are all connected by it. We must consume less, pollute less, share more, recycle more, protect nature, and create a more sustainable earth.
Selected and edited definitions of “light” from Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary 2nd edition.
luminous energy, electromagnetic radiation to which the organs of sight react
to come into existence or being
the aspect in which a thing appears or is regarded
something that affords illumination
to brighten with animation or joy
the state of being visible
a gleam or sparkle in the eyes
spiritual awareness; enlightenment
to accept or understand
to be discovered or revealed, to begin
The theme of enlightenment is dear to my heart. In art, I attempt to depict the highest level of love and wisdom “i” can conceive of. Routinely, little buddha-like images pop out on small papers; I search for the higher-self in life drawings and portraits; paint plant paintings enthusiastically in the garden; and explore outer/inner space tirelessly in meditation and the abstract realm.
Artwork Included: a recent pastel portrait of a baby doctor-to-be drawn from life; a response to two teenage self-immolations – in Tibet and India – protests on the same day against Chinese rule in Tibet – 3/2016; two light tributes to the Buddha, dharma and sangha.
Inspiring Quote from Leonardo da Vinci:
“You must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
My paintings are an expression of the ironic space between the mundane that i can influence and the BIG PICTURE stuff that remains beyond my reach. Especially in these times, when we’re confronted by powerlessness, dissolving truths, and even the end of our planet, how does one carry on — whether it’s picking-up a toothbrush or a paintbrush? My “Before the Flood” series uses figurative abstraction to embody this disconnect between singular actions and nothingness.
These works explore aspects of cooperation. They explore issues that commonly arise within ourselves and with each other.
Two implicit questions:
1. Self and other—what might we make of them?
2. What is involved in cooperating toward ends that we all seek? Among those ends: peace, harmony, compassion toward each other (in spirit and in deed), shared prosperity, mutual tolerance and respect, equality (i.e., of access to opportunity, power, privilege, liberty, etc.).
“The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Emma Lazarus
Lisa Mossel Vietze
I picked up a camera in 1998 with the intention of making landscape images full of drama with grand, far-off vistas in which I could hope to escape from childhood misery.
But what my images came to reveal is the power and intimacy of smaller landscapes, like that of a flower. I was increasingly drawn to the subtleties of petal, leaf and stem; I stopped chasing the horizon and began to search my own backyard.
A flower is the plant’s highest expression of self, as well as a promise of a new generation, giving of its energy for creating seeds. I’m often in awe of the color or design when I’m making a flower image. In this process, I continue to heal.
Flowers … become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of the physical form and the formless.
[ some words from Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth.]