Through the Looking Glass

At the beach, in the park, or even in the alley behind the abandoned warehouse, step through the looking glass. You never know what you might see!

Looking Glass

Looking Glass

Salt Flat

Salt Flat

Salt Pond

Salt Pond

Vent Angel

Vent Angel

Advertisements

Bob’s Boathouse

On a stump

Bob’s Boathouse

Along Tamiami Trail on Florida’s Gulf Coast there is a deep parking lot with old derelict boats scattered around between the parking spaces. Some are on stumps, others stuck in the ground pointing skyward. Perhaps they have been put there as decoration, or perhaps to help you find your car after a long day (or night). The sign out front says “Bob’s Boathouse,” and indeed there is an establishment set way back from the road, near the water’s edge.

Some checking revealed that this is a relocated restaurant that has been wanting to reopen for a long time, but has been stalled due to county requirements. On the day I was there, a bulldozer was at work in one corner, so perhaps things are moving again.

Much of Florida has been taken over by the new, the sleek, and the homogenized. In the midst of all this ordinariness, the originality of Bob’s Boathouse parking lot stands out. I, for one, hope it will stay.

stuck in the ground

Hard Aground

Sunburned Canoes

Sunburned Canoes

Sunburned Canoes – 2012

Myakka River State Park is just inland from Sarasota near the west coast of Florida. It is a wide and shallow river basin with two lakes, the river, and a large forested area. The forest is thick and can be dark and damp underfoot, with palms, oaks and a canopy made dense with spanish moss and other epiphytes clinging to the branches.

In the summer it rains a lot, and being inland away from the sea breezes, the Park is often hot and humid. While this may be uncomfortable for us, it is perfect for all manner of plants and animals to thrive — alligators, snakes, fish, birds, deer and more. It so seethes with life, even the canoes seem alive!

Myakka forest

Forest Lights – 2012

Thinly Veiled

Thinly Veiled

Thinly Veiled - 2011

Arriving in Florida after 12 years in the Caribbean, I find myself surrounded by a manicured suburban environment, rather than the inherently picturesque disorder of nature and barely restrained tropical decay more common in the Caribbean. Perhaps it is the difference that makes me notice, instead of take it for granted.

The gloss on the landscape along with the shiny baubles for sale in upscale shops distract from an awareness of the damage done to nature by the energy and other inputs required to maintain the suburban lifestyle. They also camouflage the increasing disparities in wealth and income, with poverty hidden away behind the bushes, in suburban homes, and in neighborhoods no one visits.

The manipulated landscape provides material for attractive imagery. The challenge is to find that beauty and evoke pleasure or a smile when the energy of life shines through — without losing touch with the unease at what may lurk beneath the smooth surface.

metal turtle sculpture for sale

Turtle in Metal -- 2011

[Note: Someone asked why I had turned comments “off” on this post. That was unintentional, and I apologize. They are back “on” now. — May 5, 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

A Modern Shrine

Room to wait - 2009

There is a new shopping mall near the airport in Orlando, Florida. It is called Mall at Millenia and is a part of a much larger mixed use (retail-residential) development called simply, and somewhat ominously, Millenia. These images are from the mall’s interior public spaces dedicated to the further glory of upscale consumption.

For a moment I had a vision of this magnificent public space as a shrine to human creativity instead of consumption, surrounded by galleries, performance spaces, reading rooms, and classrooms for the advancement of creative human endeavors. If only those were our cultural priorities… silly me. Rarely have I felt the tension between the possibilities and the realities of a place so strongly.

A scribe -- 2009

%d bloggers like this: