Mount Arikaree and Arikaree Glacier are the subject of this painting. I’ve summited this 13 thousand foot peak more than 20 times. After the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the glacier retreated into its cirque. Glacial meltwater passes through the talus field to emerge on the low shoulder of the mountain with only 1 part per billion of sediment- some of the cleanest water imaginable. Colorado State University’s Alpine Research Center is based in this glacial watershed, and last year they predicted Arikaree Glacier would be gone by 2025, with the sister valley’s Arapaho Glacier meeting its end soon after. I was the protector of these glaciers and their watersheds from my 18th birthday though to my 30th; I kept individuals from leaving physical footprints and infecting the watershed with giardia, but all the billions of humanity’s footprints are stomping it into oblivion now. While painting I’m streaming interviews with arctic / antarctic scientists, biologists documenting the 6th Mass Extinction, investigative climate journalists, climate activists such as Extinction Rebellion, Dark Mountain poets and authors; keeping my head in the game of reality while memorializing the heart of the mountain, already so much smaller, and ever smaller, and gone. Climate Collapse is finally obvious in everyone’s back yard, and if your back yard is alpine wilderness, it is already over. There is a white-hot place in my mind now that wasn’t there in my patrol days, a spot the glaciers kept cool, and now with them dying- it is a strange inescapable light, an ultraviolet long wavelength, a wave form of oblivion.
The book sale at the downtown SLC library is what sparked this. Two identical Remington books with oversize fold-out prints and dust jackets of “A Dash for the Timber”, plus a 1960’s era book on Remington with a small bland print of the same, and a fat coffee-table book of Impressionism.
Romanticism was the European stylistic period of painting prior to and somewhat contemporary to Impressionism; the middle east and India were often the theme of mythic manifest destiny of proto-industrialization serving the same appetite as the American West across the pond. Nature as sublime and overwhelmingly destructive, ruined civilizations, inescapable human cataclysms (war, slavery, revolution), immersions in lust, and inescapable death were also thematic of Romanticism.
The modern Anthopocene, or Pryocene; an era of collapse and consequences e.g. the Sixth Mass Extinction due to direct human pressure on local ecosystems coupled with a world wide collapse of the environment via human forced global warming. Portraying the inevitable future of now via Remington’s fantasy images of a West that never was, running roughshod over a landcsape created from images that titillated European culture with a proto-industrial remembrance; this is what sparked at the library sale: an Epiphany for an image of Epiphany (sacred manifestation) to Epiphanize a complex of art historical memes and ‘isms that grappled with industrialism v nature, culture v the individual, the individual v death, the present v inevitable. Shifting this perspective from the sentimental view of a past era, to a contemporary future of collapse already written that cannot be undone is the aesthetic driver for the recontextual use the of art of Romanticism, coupled with the gentle and genteel escapism of Impressionism from the reality of 19th Century industrialization, married with the jingoistic American West of Remington.
I built a new oven for plastecine clay. I have hundreds of pounds of medium red (mixed with some hard red) that needs to be warm to be pliable, then cools and firms up. Warming it up with hand friction was how I worked the clay for years, then a friend in engineering gave me a unit he had thrown together to melt hard clay that I used ever since to warm my medium clay (shown at the end of the post). I often forgo using the old problematic heater, and my hands can’t take the abuse of creating friction to warm the clay, so I needed to get creative with a custom design. This oven is a great improvement over my old unit, as it will evenly heat the clay and hold it at a workable temperature, and with a 24 x 24 inch shelf I can load in a lot of clay.