On a sunny June day in 2012 I was walking around the Finley Wildlife Refuge for the first time. Up at the top of a meadowed hill stood a stand of oaks silhouetted against the some thunderheads. This simple composition became a subject for many small paintings and now this larger one. With only three sections I could play with my abstract expressionist impulses yet still have a credible landscape when I finished. I learned definitively, a couple of years ago with pandemic abstractions, having a recognizable subject gave me the most freedom. To see what I could make paint do.
Now that I`m making progress separating the act of painting from the importance of presenting it, the promotional aspect of my blog is gone. I don`t want to stop it, I`ve heard many times that people want to read it. However, I forget about it. Sorry I`ve been away so long.
I finally got the train trip to Calif in late April after it was cancelled by Amtrak in January due to atmospheric rivers. So worth the wait! I have never seen Calif. look so lush. Everywhere! There was evidence of flooding all around as well. I also saw near every single town and city, homeless encampments. Maybe hitching rides on freight trains is coming back? Or do train tracks inspire congregating somehow? I tell you one thing, it is not just Portland and San Francisco with this vexing issue. It`s coming for the rest of the country too. With low unemployment even, this population just keeps growing. It is clearly evident that the working poor cannot afford housing. How the United States tackles this matter will determine the kind of country we become. My political instincts tell me we all will pay more taxes to ease this catastrophe and hopefully we will make the rich pay proportionally more. That`s if we want humane solutions. We can look to India and Brazil and see what happens if we don`t.
Growing up, I never thought I would fall in love with California. I couldn`t wait to get out. While I was away, the state got its act together. Because the state Republican Party came down hard on illegal immigration in a nakedly racist way, generations of Hispanic voters swept them out of power long ago. There is no utopia anywhere, much less Calif., but I have never seen such racial integration anywhere else. My brother is one of only two old white men on his Orange County street. I had low expectations for my trip because it had been delayed among other reasons and that is the exact condition necessary for the marvelous. No great events just beautiful food and the comfort of being loved. I even had one whole day with an old friend thinking I had covid. Yet we still had fun. She was certainly sick and testing positive with the home test. Then negative. I was trying to figure out what I should do with my vacation. Finally we realized we needed real information and went to a clinic. Negative for covid, strep throat, and RSV. Eventually she was treated for a respiratory infection and I was unscathed and went on to see my family further south. My homestate feels like it recovered from a terrible war and every time I visit I am amazed and grateful. Just walking through the neighborhoods I encountered smells that took me back in an instant to being a boy in the sunlight.