Freshness of Perception – a summer show at Fika Coffee
“I believe this need of wilderness is inherent in most of us, even those seemingly farthest removed from it by civilized living. The cities may cover it up, make us forget temporarily; but deep underneath is an inherent urge for naturalness and simplicity and a way of life different from the one we know.” – Sigurd F. Olson
You’ll find my first body of work after a year’s pause, Freshness of Perception, at Fika Coffee in Lutsen, Minnesota, during the months of July and August 2021. As I wrote the show’s artist statement, I was glad for the cohesion of so many ideas I’ve been ruminating on this year. Not only have I not painted this past year, but I have also taken a year’s break from social media and the “hustle.” What spaciousness. ( I’ll be writing more on that to be sure. )
The new show’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness imagery and the paired quotations (from Minnesota conservationist Sigurd F. Olson) work in tandem, as you’ll see. I hope you can make your way up the lovely north shore to take in these artworks, 16 new paintings in all (!) and taste the goodness that Fika Coffee serves its community.
AND if that wasn’t gift enough, Fika asked the director of the Grand Marais Art Colony, Ruth Pszwaro, to write a piece on the show for their blog. I had the pleasure to sit down with her and chat about the new work and much more. Pszwaro’s gift of writing is inspiring. You can read about our interview and soulful conversation here.
FRESHNESS OF PERCEPTION
new encaustic work set to the wisdom of Sigurd F. Olson
There seems to be an amorphous spirit in the air these days that gets quite agitated when it is not able to quantify the things of this world that can only carry human sensibilities. Take for instance a trip into the wilderness or a sit to watch the extraordinary horizon of our big lake. There is no data to be mined from a weekend of woodland play, joyful sunset watching, or the lifting of mist from silent waters. Whatever things cannot be easily quantified in our human experiences are being ever so subtly suppressed. Have you noticed?
I propose that the work before us is to enter into our very human experiences of adventure and feeling which cannot be counted, measured or monetized. Together, may we resist all that strives to strip us of our humanity, all that works to convert the spirit into something quantifiable. Cold data we are not. We are living beings – created to be in harmony with the natural world and with one another. Enjoying, being, resting and playing alongside whatever our good labor may be.
This is why the work of local nature writer, conservationist, and advocate Sigurd F. Olson continues to call to us even more so today. His prophetic work and perseverance in the face of opposition is why we are able to enjoy our north country today. He reminds us of our need to be “nourished again” by the natural world, without which we lose our dignity and purpose, especially in light of the ever shifting demands of our data-driven and technocratic societies. Deep within nature we will always find true meaning. As a former canoe guide in the BWCA, I know firsthand what the unquantifiable things of the wilderness can gift us with. May these paintings bring you a “freshness of perception” as you consider delighting in all that cannot be quantified. Here in the quiet woods, where value is placed on your presence alone.