Alligators as Archetypes of Fear

I’ve been making art featuring wolves and their connectedness to humans for decades. For me, and many others, wolves symbolize the wilderness, freedom and a connection to nature that we all need and at some level, always crave. This connection keeps us in harmony with the earth, with other animals and our very selves.

But now I am painting alligators, animals that humans do not usually feel connected to. The main response they stir up is fear, and I was drawn to explore that reaction and how it fits into ancient archetypes that influence us. Here are some of my thoughts on alligators and two of my new gator paintings.

Swimming Near Gators

Alligators address our centers of fear. We cannot look to these animals for tenderness as we sometimes can with other fierce animals, such as wolves. Ancient people faced their fears by worshiping the fiercest animals, making them part of them in some way. By living with fearsome images, we pull up our warrior selves, as sometimes we must.  I am exploring fear and its ancient roots in these paintings from my ongoing series that I call Swimming Near Gators. Alligators have been on the earth over 200 million years, outliving dinosaurs by 65 million years. They were here to greet some of the first humans when they arrived a mere 200 thousand years ago. The fierce uncaring faces of alligators have been scaring people for a long time.

They fit perfectly with the idea of an archetype, a universal image that is deeply imbedded in the collective unconscious.

Only Watching copy.jpg
Fear copy.jpg

Muse

Over the years, my partner, Debra, has posed for wolf spirits, Egyptian animal goddesses, a Madonna that gives birth to butterflies, and sometimes just as herself. All of these paintings and more will be in Muse, an art show at the LGBTQ Center, 300 Wall Street, Kingston NY. The opening reception is April 1, 2017, from 4 to 6pm and the public is invited. 

Below are some of the works in Muse and a picture that Debra took of me with our friends, Erik and Vince as we installed the show.

Winter Bliss at Art Omi

As snow continued to fall late into Tuesday evening I grew excited, guessing there would be enough coverage in the morning to put a long desired adventure into play. The next day was sunny, no wind, around 45 degrees. Perfect. Debra and I threw our cross country skis in the car and in less than an hour pulled into the parking lot at Art Omi, the international arts center in Ghent, NY.

Is there any other place in the world where you can ski on sixty acres that are the setting for extraordinary large scale sculptures by world class artists? We skied down rolling hills, in and out of wooded areas, stopping to view works that were outlined against sparkling snow or merged with dark branches. It was a wonderful dream-like day, and there was no charge for anything, including an art show at the visitors center that we took in before we left. Art Omi was founded by individuals who love Art and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts which needs our protection from the current anti-art, anti-environment administration.

 

 

Trans-Jesus

This Cut-out “Trans-Jesus” came about after reading Suzanne Dewitt Hall’s blog suggesting that Jesus was the first transgendered man (born to a virgin, which would result in XX chromosome pairings, yet trans-formed to male). Hall’s ideas bring to mind mythologies that ascribe gender variance in humans to the actions of gods and include transgenderism, along with homosexuality and bisexuality as symbols for sacred or mythic experiences. Cultures that are open to these variances practice acceptance and kindness for all, which could be part of any religion or spiritual path.

 

The Blue Heron


my heron model.JPG

 

Recently on a clear sunny day I went to the creek near our home to paint rocks and water. When I climbed the ledge to the place where I planned to set up I saw a large blue heron standing still, looking down at fish trapped in a small pool of water, one that was created from the streambed drying up.

The heron saw me and took off, flying low over the creek, but it stopped further up, not too far away and stood on rocks. I moved as quietly as I could to a large flat stone, sat down and took out my paints, palette, brushes and small sheets of watercolor paper. Keeping my eyes on the heron I sent it a silent message that I admired it and was only there to paint. Slowly, I put water from the stream in a plastic container and began to make a quick wash drawing of the heron before it flew off.

Surprisingly it stayed around, changing its position occasionally, but not too often, as obliging as any professional model could be. It was lovely there with the sun on my back, in communion with this wonderful bird who posed for me, outlined against a dark woods.

There was a gentle breeze that grew into a strong gust of wind and although I’d weighted each painting with small stones the wind picked them up. Three of them tumbled face down in a nearby pool and a fourth blew high into the air and tumbled out of sight. I chased after them and put fresh paint on the ones diluted from being in water. Through all of this the heron remained. Later I took a break and lay on my back on the warm stone and watched clouds gather over the creek. When I sat up the heron was gone. I’ll look for it again, maybe later today.