This is the original text of my speech about the exhibition at the Conservation Foundation in 2015;
The Dutch are rich and created most of their own landscape. One of the seven wonders of the modern world are the polders and dikes of the Netherlands. They have for Centuries gained land from the sea instead of going to war. They don’t like confrontation and are tolerant as a culture. To this day they remain universally acclaimed for their marine engineering. Because of this half of the country is below sea-level as a nation they are sensitive to landscapes in any form. The Dutch painters from the Golden Age became famous by painting their environment. Their legacy is part of the greatest masters in European Art.
Rich cultural inheritance
That is where I come from. It is my rich cultural inheritance. When I go out in the woods to paint, the spirits of my ancestors follow me and show up in the wind ruffling through the palm leaves. They hold my hand and from the mysteries of the earth and sky, the paintings are being born.
The art of landscape painting is to contain the majesty of the ever changing earth upon a never changing piece of board, linen or canvas. I believe is is a noble occupation, a serious occupation and a difficult occupation. Making art is not a trivial pursuit.
Art is rich
Art creates cultural cohesion. Without art society cannot share its symbols. I dare to say that the non-verbal communication is stronger than the words we hear and speak every day. It is felt in architecture and in music. Landscape painting uses the order of architecture and the silence between the notes of music. This form of Art makes us mindful of the beauty around us waiting to be recognized. The visual arts have always functioned as an instrument of power.
The theme of my exhibition is Be Rich. I don’t refer to rich as monetary wealth since a stack op paper gathering dust in a dark place is not inspiring to me. We all need financial security, but in the abstract, finances in itself are dead and boring. What is interesting to me is the richness nature brings, a late glow of the sun on a dead leaf: the moving of a cloud through a stark blue sky. I believe I am not alone in my love for shapes, forms, colors and textures of this earth we call home.
The origin of the title “be Rich” is found in the road called Bee Ridge, when you drive up North on I-75 to Sarasota. It refers to Bee Ridge road where at its eastern end is an old landfill, now covered with grass. Behind the landfill is a park called Rothenbach. That is where I found my inspiration for the paintings. One day when I went to a plain air painting class of Kevin Costello, I discovered it. In the car I was repeating the name Bee Ridge over and over again as to not forget where to take the exit. Once I saw where we ended up I changed the mantra fast in “Be Rich” since the most enriching authentic Florida landscape unfolded for my eyes. Five dear looked at me with their trusting eyes. Spanish moss was hanging from old Oaks entangled with vines like garlands at a party.
Manasota Beach Club
I came to this area through the Manasota Beach Club, an old Beach Resort in Englewood. They made me Artist in Residence and I accepted the offer because all I wanted to do is to escape the hectic life in Miami and be quietly surrounded by nature. The idea was to bring color into the cottages through paintings in exchnage for a stay. The soul of the landscape did not reach me, at first. I could not see any color in the grey-ness of dead palm fronds or the barks of the trees. It was totally disappointing and a huge challenge to come up with something colorful. I simply started copying the world as accurate as I could, using a stack of magazines about how to paint. Over time studying the vistas of this part of Florida, I opened myself up to the mysteries as they were unfolding before my eyes.
Learning to paint enriched my world. Be Rich/Bee Ridge is the result of years observing Floridian landscape. But there is no value in the work if it not shared with others. It would be like giving a kiss and nobody to receive it. It disappears in mid air. Who would want that? The result of years observing the Florida landscape with love therefore is in this group of paintings and my love to all of you that share this feeling.
PS.Inspiration during painting was “A Land Remembered” by Patrick Smith