Gulf Beach Dreams

Hazy dreams of a day at the beach. Blue skies, family and friends, wrapped in the warm Gulf air and waters.

But then comes the runoff after the rain, the oil, the dead fish and other Red Tide detritus, reminders of what else that warm water holds.

Gulf Beach Dream
Morning Footprints in the Freshly Raked Sand
Just a Ripple at the Shore
Keeping Watch
The Pier That Used To Be
After the Rain
A Colorful Death
Red Tide Detritus

Horizon Line

White Birds at Siesta Key

White Birds and the Sea - 2011

Looking out over the calm gulf waters at the distant horizon, the bands of colors across sky and sea are gently meditiative. Objects in the foreground may come unglued and seem to float. It can be worth a few minutes to let them.

A light at the end

A Light at the End - 2011

Bayside Shallows

Gulf shore beach

He Walks on Water -- 2011

By coming to Florida, we’ve traded the stunning Caribbean blue for a new emerald green. Each place has it’s own palette. The brilliant white sand, the sunlight shining through clear water, and the pure white snowy egret with his yellow feet stridng along the sugar-sand shore are part of the palette here.

What matters is not the colors or the subjects before us, but rather how we respond to them.

Anna Maria pier

Bayside Shallows - 2011

Soft Landing

The beach at Siesta Key

Siesta - 2011

The transition from island life to mainland life is underway. These images also suggest the beginnings of that transition reflected in my art. Nature has always been an inspiration, and that theme is carried forward here with the soft pastel interpretation of the famous white sand beach at Siesta Key, and in the colors of the morning sun slanting through the trees in a local park.

Of course, much of Florida is more urban than St. Croix; and the authentic quaintness and decay of the Caribbean is often imitated in quaint venues newly manufactured for tourist consumption. The visual evidence of authentic decay and disorder is different here — and sometimes is appalling, rather than appealing like the old ruins of the Caribbean. Awareness of these and other differences has only begun to gel, but likely will be reflected in some of the images to come.

Spanish moss in Arlington Park

Morning in the Park - 2011

What the Sea Dragged In

Rusty Tank on the Shore

Rusty Tank -- 2010

Even when storms pass hundreds of miles away they can send large waves that leave surprises on the beach. The rusty tank above was most likely a fuel tank from a boat, washed away from one shore, and deposited here in front of the red fort in Frederiksted. The bold geometric blocks of color seemed to call attention to what the sea had left behind.

Rocks also seem to shape-shift and come and go from the shoreline, although in many cases they have not moved at all. It is the sand that is brought in by the waves for a while, and then carried away again, revealing the rocky remains underneath. The constant change is the only thing that really stays the same.

Living Rocks

Living Rocks -- 2010

Life and Death on the Beach

ghost crab hole

Hole of the Ghost Crab -- 2010

Sandy areas of the beach are riddled with the holes of ghost crabs that scurry in and out, leaving their trails in the sand. While the dismemebered crab remains near this hole is not a ghost crab, its proximity to the trail of the live crab was poignant reminder of the rhthym of life and death on the beach.

The colors and shapes of the rocks along the shore tell the story of another, much slower, rhythm. As inevitable as life and death, this is the rhythm of the earth itself as rocks are thrust up and then worn down over the eons by the sea.

rock rhythm

Rhythm of the Rocks -- 2010

By the Sea

Offshore reef at Boiler Bay

Offshore Reef -- 2010

Much of St. Croix is fringed by an offshore reef. On windy days or when there is a swell running large waves will crash on the reef. While the inshore waters remain relatively calm, the usual dark line at the horizon becomes snowy-white. On this afternoon some low clouds were drifting nearby, echoing the colors of the shallower water near shore.

Illusions can creep up while standing quietly on the shoreline. The lone palm tree in the image below dwarfed the few chairs and sunbathers on either side. When the sun ducked behind a cloud softening the shadows, the otherwise bald beach seemed a fairyland in blues.

Palm and sunbathers at Carambola

Fairyland in blues -- 2010




The two old Danish forts on St. Croix — one in Christiansted and the other in Frederiksted — were defended by cannons aimed seaward. The irony is that the real threat to the planter’s culture of that era came from the land in the form of the changing economics of the sugar trade, the end of slavery, and rebellions by workers against the oppressive conditions they endured.

I’m not sure if the cannons were ever fired, but many of them have now found their way to emplacements around the island where they are mounted barrel down on street corners and elsewhere to act as guardrails or barriers. This one, however, was placed into the rock at the ocean’s edge where the salt water and air is taking its toll on the old iron. It’s purpose is a mystery.

Just a few feet away from this relic of the past is a much larger relic of the future, the new clock tower built in the renovated plaza that greets cruise ship passengers as they disembark. On the rocks below the plaza were a pair of jeans and shirt with no owner visible in the water or elsewhere nearby. Perhaps he simply melted away, or even scampered away nude.

Where'd he go?

Where'd he go?

For the Ghouls and Goblins


Green Ghoul -- 2009

A creature was lying on the beach, dead and half covered with sand and dried seagrass. I tried to breathe some life into him and he opened his eyes and looked at me sadly. Or was that just a dream?

A bit further on was the shell of a sailboat — someone’s home — that had blown ashore. Holed by the coral stone at the water’s edge, its bones had been picked clean by human vultures in search of anything of value. As the waves washed over it’s keel, I shuddered with the old boater’s fear in the night of losing one’s bearings, or of the anchor losing its grip on the bottom, and being shipwrecked on a reef or a rocky shore. Here was proof that it happens.

Blown ashore - 2009

Blown Ashore - 2009


Contact -- 2009

Contact -- 2009

Two large rocks along the shore just barely touched, bridged by a few small stones and had a thin channel of seawater running between them. The shadows and colors reminded me of a bruise radiating out from where the rocks made contact.

For contact of a different sort, I had an opening reception for a show of my work last Saturday night at a small gallery in Christiansted . Even though this is the off-season here on St. Croix, we had nearly 100 guests and over 20 sales. I was thrilled with such a positive response. I guess I’ll keep working!

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