Wide Open preview 6: swept and garnished

The show had a happy and buzzing opening night at the Chowan Arts Council, whose volunteers pulled long hours hanging art and laying out a spread of refreshments.  People from four counties, two states and three generations enjoyed themselves, which pleased me.  Two people told me how the scene below resembled places they know.  Then they told me about the people, alive as well as dead and buried, in their own places.

field betwen crops

Gates County. 12 x 16.” oil on linen on panel

The last time I counted, Gates County, NC has five stop lights.  It might have six now, but I wouldn’t know because I’m happy with that number.

This scene is not far from the Dismal Swamp, featured in my last post and offers a different sense of lush potential.  This is a field resting between crops when the trees are green.  The ground is not finished–just taking a breather.  Look at those leaves, and you can hear the earth boast, “see what I can do.”

Civilization depends upon this sort of readiness.  How we meet it is important.  When I was a child, fields like this were visited every week or so by the poor, who were paid at the end of the day to tend them.  Even then, their jobs were losing out to machines.

Currently, there is a conspicuous absence of people outdoors here.  I painted this scene in July, and drove by it again just this November.  There were more people visible in November.  Even the autumnal head count is down as deer hunting with packs of dogs–a social activity-has given way to sitting alone in a tree stand and waiting for the quarry to walk by.  I don’t know what that means, but it merits reflection.

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