Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lovely Lady in Boracay, Phllipines Reading My Book

Old friend of mine took this picture of her reading "My Steamboat" while vacationing in the South Seas.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Dot Gallery's New Ambassador, "Red Dotty"

Red Dotty will make her first appearance at Magic City Art Connection this weekend.

Magic City is an art festival held in Linn Park, Birmingham, Alabama, April 24-26, 10 to 6 daily.






Monday, April 19, 2010

My Garden This Week

Japnese Iris

Japanese Iris

Japanese Iris

Cutleaf Japanese Maple, Azaleas in foreground

Same as above

Clematis

Baptisia

Creeping Phlox

Sedum in foreground, then Phlox, then Barberry

German Iris

German Iris

Azalea

Mexican Sage

German Iris

Deciduous Azalea

Variegated Solomon Seal

Baptisia

Japanese Iris

Smoke Bush

Baptisa and Japanese Maple

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gay Wan Nesah: Stonetalker’s Wall

Tom Hendrix began constructing a stone wall decades ago on his property 15 miles north of Florence, Alabama. His intention was to build a monument to his great great grandmother, a member of the Yuchi Indian Tribe, who was sent on the Trail of Tears. Once she arrived in Oklahoma, she escaped, and walked back all by herself to her home waters on the Tennessee River in Alabama. It took her five years, and she is the only person known to have done it. Her amazing story was passed on to Tom through his grandmother, and inspired his colossal undertaking, a winding rock wall that rivals any environmental project done by a single person.

Little known to most Alabamians, Tom Hendrix’s wall is known to people all over the world, especially in the spiritual community. The heartbreaking and uplifting nature of its inspiration, and the knowledge that one man dedicated himself to such an enormous task, offers a powerful, indescribable experience when visiting the wall. People of many faiths and nationalities come to the wall to experience that which can only be felt by going there. Describing the wall or showing images of it conveys little of what is important and amazing about it. One must visit it to understand why people say, “You just have to go there.” Gay Wah Nesah means “a spiritual place.”

Rocks sent from people all over the world have been incorporated into Tom’s wall, including rocks from the top of Mount Everest, the bottom of the ocean, from the Arctic and the Antarctic, from space and from the mines of South Africa. People give stones they have cherished their whole lives, and many of the rocks have incredible and moving stories that accompany them. I have depicted some of those stones on the outside layer of my painting.

The “tiles” of this piece are not real stones, but are made from clay. The next layer represents a segment of the wall where naturally formed rocks with holes form an eerie spectacle. And finally, in the center I brought in patterns from the Yuchi tribe in the background, and used the Red Root plant, or New Jersey Tea Plant, as the centerpiece—the sacred plant of the Yuchis.

Before my Exhibit A project I’d not heard of the wall or Stonetalker (Tom’s Indian name, given to him when the Yuchi tribe adopted him.) My work on this piece started a friendship with a gentle and genuine man that exemplifies the best of the benefits this project has offered me. I spent afternoons at the wall just sitting, spellbound, listening to the wisdom, humility, and humor of someone I’ve come to refer to as my idol. I’ve seen a lot of art in my lifetime as a painter, and Tom’s great work rates high among my favorites, although he blushes to hear himself called an artist. He truly is one.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Falling Awake: Sipsey Wilderness

The Sipsey Wilderness area is one of only two designated wilderness areas in the state of Alabama, and is the third largest East of the Mississippi River. Its topography is formed by the Warrior Mountains, the western terminus of the Appalachians. Numerous streams have eroded this part of the Cumberland Plateau forming lush canyons and wooded ridges. There are over 400 miles of canyons in this small area. Rocky bluffs from 50 to 200 feet in height drop away from the ridges. Some of the coves are so rugged that they have never been logged and are home to virgin and old growth trees. Sometimes called “land of a thousand waterfalls,” Sipsey hosts large cascades from 35 to 70 feet as well as hundreds of smaller ones.

As evidenced in my piece, my every visit to Sipsey has been in the fall (with no complaints from me.) I included imagery of many of the trees and plant-life, all drawn from brilliantly colored photos of my hikes. The two trees that stood out to me as being unusually prevalent were the evergreen Eastern Hemlock and the Big-Leaf Magnolia. Even with my complicated format, I found I could not include every visual aspect of the place, and so left out the rock outcroppings, dark canyons, and rushing creeks that signify the place as much as the beautiful forests. Perhaps in another painting…

Sipsey Wilderness is a part of Bankhead National Forest, maintained by the Forest Service. WildSouth is a non-profit organization that works to restore and protect the Sipsey Wilderness and other Southern ecosystems. For more information go to wildsouth.org.