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eARTh: a Celebration. May 2014 at the State of the Art Gallery

This month, the State of the Art Gallery presents eARTh: a Celebration. The works examine the state of our changing planet and our role as artists and citizens. My three paintings respond to issues of climate change caused by our life style: over-consumption of fossil fuels and misuse of our land and water resources.   Swamps Burning
Swamps Burningacrylic on canvas, 20x20"$600

Swamps Burningacrylic on canvas, 20x20"

Drought, draining the swamp for agriculture, and over demand for water consumption are destructive forces. On my recent trip to Florida I saw these forces at work. Thick clouds of smoke obscured the highway as we drove through a wild fire, grass burning on both sides of the highway. I visited the beautiful Everglades and learned that it is being sustained by artificial irrigation and periodic flooding. Michael Grunwald. Why the Everglades is Burning, and How We Sucked it Dry. http:grist.org/article/fortune-and-flame/ 22 May 2008   Fire and Ice Robert Frost wrote “How will the world end? Fire or Ice…” Perhaps the answer is both, in a paradoxical way – Global warming could plunge North America and Western Europe into a deep freeze. The melting of the polar ice caps can destroy one of the feedback loops – the Gulf Stream- that helps the earth maintain its temperature equilibrium. “Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver--comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants--Europe's average
Fire and Ice16 x 20 oil on canvas$550

Fire and Ice

16 x 20 oil on canvas

temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F), and parts of eastern North America would be chilled somewhat less. Such a dip in temperature would be similar to global average temperatures toward the end of the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago.” A Chilling Possibility. NASA Science News. http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/05mar_arctic/   Discontinuities In “Discontinuities” I was thinking about the need to reverse these devastating greenhouse effects. This painting started with the same colors and initial composition as “Swamps are Burning”, but I turned it with every succeeding revision. I had never done that before, and it gave me a fresh perspective on the painting at every turn. I made changes that I wouldn’t have thought of had I stayed with my usual habit of painting in one orientation.  
Discontinuities20 x 20 Acrylic on canvas$600

20 x 20 Acrylic on canvas

A quick google search on the internet uncovers scores of articles and lists of things we can do as individuals, as well as things we need to urge our government to enact to reverse climate change. We know what we need to do, or do we? Even though we may believe that we are destroying our environment and need to do something different, we struggle to keep our way of life unchanged. From the point of view of being immersed in our daily lives, it can be very difficult to imagine how life could be different, and yet very satisfying. We need to do a radical shift in our thinking and our way of life. Having unlimited quantities of invisible energy that we can just plug an appliance into whenever, how often, and for as long as we want does not let us imagine that energy is anything other than infinite. If we relied on wind or solar energy, there might be days when we would need to be willing to put off vacuuming or doing laundry until the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. Our water materializes seemingly from nowhere, and disappears after it is used and becomes waste. It is so hard to imagine water as being a precious and limited resource, easy to contaminate and difficult to clean. Our garbage disappears in the middle of the night when we put it out on the curb. We don’t get the chance to see the mountains  of landfills that grow far away from us in someone else’s backyard. It is hard to imagine what people did before the availability of plastic to wrap our food, and paper towels and tissues to clean up with. “Will we look into the eyes of our children and confess that we had the opportunity but lacked the courage? that we had the technology but lacked the vision?” (a quote from Greenpeace: Energy (R)evolution). We don’t have all the answers to the questions, or all the technological pieces to put together the solution. We definitely need some adjustment to our vision –by  looking farther down the road beyond now, and casting a wider glance beyond here. It is ironic, though, considering how we were exhorted in the 60’s to try to just “be here now”. We need to re-envision what life could be like as we go from thinking about where we are personally and locally in the present  to where we could be collectively and globally in the future.   Greenpeace: Energy [R]evolution 2010A blueprint for revolutionizing a broken energy economy. http://www.scribd.com/doc/34601288/Greenpeace-Energy-R-evolution-USA-Energy-Outlook-2010  Naomi Klein. The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External. The Nation. April 22, 2014 Michael Grunwald. Why the Everglades is Burning, and How We Sucked it Dry. http:grist.org/article/fortune-and-flame/ 22 May 2008 A Chilling Possibility. NASA Science News. http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/05mar_arctic/  

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