Earth Day 2020, Planet of the Humans, and what’s wrong with us?

Perfection, 2020, Archival Digital Print

The new documentary is not for the fainthearted. Planet of the Humans is free on YouTube. See it at your own peril. You won’t get through it without being changed and sobered.  And very saddened. Don’t watch it alone.  You’ll need comfort after it’s over.

Now that I live on the land, I am more sensitive to the sacredness of the planet.  I expect if we continue our greedy consumption and yearning for more and more, we will just be killed off. Fairly quickly, too.  This may be only the first of more coming pandemics as we destroy swaths of forests and deserts and gobble up more and more for our energy needs.  In the big picture, humans just aren’t worth it.  We are too greedy, out of balance and let’s face it, too destructive.

 

 

 

So it’s Death

Hans Holbein, The Miser, The Dance of Death, Woodblock, 1523-5

Underneath all of our anxiety, our food and gun hoarding, is The Grim Reaper, his insistent trod, scythe in hand, plucking souls as he goes.  It’s what none of us say aloud: you or I could be next.  We have always known it was in our future, vague, general, but way, way out there in the future. Now our reckoning may be around the corner.  We aren’t worried about getting sick any more than we are about getting a cold.  We’re afraid we might die!  Dead.  Over. Gone.

One of my favorite little books I studied endlessly as an art student was Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, a series of woodblock prints.  It is a marvel of drawing and composition illustrating Death’s harvest at every level of the social order.  No one is exempt.

I was so inspired I started my own series, the studies are lost somewhere in a pile of old sketchbooks.  Then I forgot about it until now.  Like all art, Holbein’s work remains timeless, waiting for us when we’re ready and scared to death.

9/11 again

Untitled Proof, 2019, Linocut on Newsprint, 12″ x 12″

It’s 9/11 today and the scorched memories return as always a few weeks before until they are fully formed on the anniversary of that awful morning and its aftermath.  I have been working on a linocut series all year but this weekend decided to take a rest from it and do some other plates which were more severe and geometric.  This one was the first.  It pleased me.  This morning, though, it looks to me like a memory of that day and those maimed towers.

 

The air has changed

Adolescent Turkeys, 2019, Archival Digital Print

The first whiff of Autumn came last week. Now in spite of the high temperatures and the violent thunderstorms and drenching rains on many nights, the summer’s end nudges at us.  Another sign is the young Turkeys who long ago fledged and are now long-necked and adolescent.  The flock is big.  Here are a few stragglers.  Their sibs already crossed the road and were safely hidden in the grasses.  These two had attitude and risked the on coming car.

 

Illumination

Field of Sunflowers, 2019, Archival Digital Print

On Saturday I saw thirty acres of Sunflowers just coming into bloom.  I was reminded of the moving scene in the film Everything Is Illuminated when the three travelers find their destination.  She is an old woman living in a small house surrounded by blooming sunflowers.  How radiant is our world if we can See.

 

Debate Night I

Morning Magic, 2019, Archival Digital Print

What a strange experience to watch the Democratic Debates tonight and the flashy production of the set, more Jeopardy or a World Wide Wrestling match than the serious process of a debate for the highest office in our democracy.  We have become so accustomed to visual overload that few may have noticed.  It’s all part of our pinball-light-up-and-win world.

Here, though, I can bring a slow eye to what I see.  This photo, another fortuitous find, was shot in the hours of early light.

 

 

 

I need a plan

I need a plan while hoping the Giant doesn’t climb down that beanstalk, 2019, Archival Digital Print

It dawned on me last week that what makes The Homestead magical, or put another way, what my land elicits in me, is the sense of magic and wonder I felt when I was six or seven. It is the gift this place gives me. Everywhere I walk, explore, see, I make finds I hadn’t expected.  It’s quite preposterous, I know, and I don’t expect anyone to believe me though anyone who has walked it when visiting feels it, too.

The beanstalk in this photo (actually a Wild Grape Vine) is an example.  It is growing in the lush green of the ravine behind the dog pen.  It is a steep drop down there where Deer, Fox, Raccoons and Nicky, the feral cat, run and travel. The Wild Turkeys, too.  The pond is lower and to the right of this photo so this area teems all year ’round with comings and goings.  There is a density here as well, so every day there is a new surprise, a new animal, a new sound, a new flower.

It isn’t a stretch to think that one dusky evening, I’ll be out there with the dogs and hear what I first think is thunder, the dogs will look up and stand perfectly still, my eyes will follow as the ground starts to shake and we’ll see those huge hairy legs start to descend from high above. I’ll open the gate and we’ll run like hell into the house.