Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Returning Landscape

Everyone knows we've been slogging through a recession for a while. Art sales are down, along with every other kind of sale, and just about everyone has been tightening thier belt. Which, of course, explains why art sales are down, but I won't dwell on that particular circle!

In Nashville, on my way to the art supply store, I drive by a
container yard. A couple of years ago that yard had a few of the boxcar-size steel boxes sitting around in it. Now they're stacked four or five high. Inventory is piling up everywhere. Real estate sales are not rebounding, due to the changes in banking. Rentals are up, due to the people who have lost their homes.

Pretty bleak...for most people.

But we're not most people. We're artists, and although we need the cash to flow just like everybody else does, we have this other odd need: the need for beauty. And beauty is abounding.

My new studio home is situated on the edge of a town which grew monstrously during the last decade. I remember one day driving through an area of new construction, and watching with horror as the bulldozers laid bare acres of blood-red clay, stripping away the topsoil like flesh from a fresh kill. Paving paradise.

Last week I took a walk through another area of development just outside of town. Someone had put some thought into this one. They had laid out roads and sidewalks, nice little street lamps and
signposts. Some of the big trees had been left standing in pleasant clumps. Pretty little gardens graced the street corners. This was going to be a really nice neighborhood.

But no one came to live here. No houses were ever built.

The graded clay has collected a little drift of black soil here and there. Grasses have taken hold, their untamed swaying brilliant green flowing like waves across the housing lots, spreading in pools of green over the asphalt. Thistles follow, reaching high thier dramatic globes of purple. 

And now, acres of Queen Anne's Lace drift over the land, gracing the earth, healing it and blessing it. To the artist, this is a miracle, a reprieve. The artist stands at the easel alone in the midst of the singing wind, the rustle of wildflowers, the call of a red-tailed hawk which has returned to the landscape...