General 8-11-2002

L.A. to Minnesota

When I lived in L.A., I did ink paintings on thin Chinese paper of the plants in my back yard. In arid Los Angeles, plants were organisms that had to be tended–each one deserved care and attention; each one was testimony to one’s presence as a caretaker and observer. The plant world was an artefact of human presence. So I did portraits, you might say, of the eggplant leaves, the tomato plant, the magnificent acanthus.

When I moved to Minnesota, I remember walking up along the steeply rising bank of a creek, following its course up the hill towards its source. When I turned, I was struck–I mean like a blow–by the swarm of green, the thousands on thousands of ranked trees, wild and chaotic, the original occupants of this place, none of whom owed anything to me. A tribe, a great nation.

I could no longer paint plants until I found a way to present them as a visual field. It’s only now, 10 years later, that I finally am developing the ability to see individuals in that deep complexity.

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