It's a new year, but the pace of the last few months is the same. On January 6, I opened the third exhibition of my work in three months, at the Blue Heron Art Gallery, run by the Vashon Arts Alliance on Vashon Island, Washington. On February 3, the big Boreal Birch traveling exhibition of my paintings, Barry McWayne's photographs, and Margo Klass's constructions arrives from the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, where it's been since early November, and opens at Well Street Art Gallery here in Fairbanks.
My exhibit on Vashon Island, a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, was with noted Pacific Northwest photographer Paul Bannick, whose extraordinary photographs of birds in their habitats have won national awards, were shown recently at the Burke Museum in Seattle, and are featured in his own beautiful book The Owl and the Woodpecker. The show opened on January 6, and on January 8, Paul and I gave a talk about our work to a sold-out crowd. We had a fun conversation about how we work, moderated by Mike Feinstein, who with his wife Gerry organizes an annual lecture series with visiting artists, writers and others for the Vashon Arts Alliance.
One of the great pleasures of the Vashon exhibition was seeing at the opening and talk many old friends who have settled in the Pacific Northwest--friends who came from all around the Seattle area and as far as Portland. It was especially meaningful that my son Eli and his family--Becca and their daughter Sage--who live in Seattle, were able to come. It was a pure delight to get to carry Sage--my now 4-month old granddaughter--around to look at each of my paintings at her first art opening.
I have resisted, with some difficulty, imposing pictures of my beautiful granddaughter on readers of my blog, but her appearance at my opening gives me an excuse to share my delight in the company of her and her wonderful parents.
It also gives me an opportunity to more formally introduce my companion Dorli McWayne, whom a few attentive readers have already noted my mentioning in posts in the past few months. Dorli and I have known each other for more than 30 years, but until the death of her husband, my close friend Barry McWayne, just two weeks after the death of my wife Missy, I knew her only as his wife, and we had literally never had a substantive conversation. In the year and a half since the almost simultaneous, sudden and unexpected losses of our beloved partners, we have--with equal parts surprise and joy--found each other, and we are enjoying beginning work on the puzzle of melding two large households and two extraordinarily busy lives.
For the Vashon Island exhibition, I included several images from the Pacific Northwest, from the colorful madrone trees which I have long admired and have painted often before to scenes from the Skagit River Valley and the North Cascades.
The new Alaska images in the show are all about light. I talked, in my presentation at the Vashon Arts Alliance, about how lucky we are in this part of the far North to have, even in the depths of winter, hours each day of the kind of twilight that people of all cultures and places find magical. In the high latitudes, the sun wheels around the sky at a shallower angle than in more southerly lands, and both nightfall and daybreak are preceded and followed, year-round, by growing or lingering, ever-changing crepuscular light.
As we once again this year pass by Epiphany in deep cold and begin to hurtle toward the equinox and on toward constant day, I am grateful for new light in the North.