This is the beautiful flower of a common beachside bush (Thespesia populnea) called the haiti-haiti tree here on St. Croix, also known as seaside mahoe, portia tree, and often mistakenly called beach hibiscus. *
Haiti-haiti flower - 2009
Despite the common name sometimes used, the beach hibiscus is actually a different plant (Hibiscus tiliaceus). Still, the flower does look hibiscus-like. I was attracted by the filmy, creamy translucence of the off-white petals when the flower is fully opened.
While the short-lived flowers are beautiful, the tree itself is scrubby with multiple woody stems. Invasive and salt-tolerant, it can quickly dominate a shoreline. The fruits or seedpods are a favorite of the local bright red love bugs, one of which is featured in my gravatar. More on those guys later!
This rusty barstool has been down at the beach the last few months. It was joined a few days ago by a white plastic garbage bag.
The salt has eaten away at the chair’s metal frame, almost the same way termites eat away at deadwood, returning it to the soil. This scene of decay told of good times past, evidence of someone passing through this way.
There was a hint of a rainbow in the eastern sky. I wonder now, was that white bag the pot of gold?
One of the visually stunning aspects of living on St. Croix is the nearly constant view of the ocean and the shoreline. The colors and textures of the transition from land to water inspired this image.
Buck Island View - 2008
This was sold at a benefit show for Haiti Community Support, a local non-profit dedicated to helping a small Haitian community. It has also led to the beginning of a “shoreline” series.
It would be easy, working with the color fields of ocean and beach, to venture off into purely decorative abstraction. I like to think “Buck Island View” is enhanced by the natural elements in it that help ground the image and evoke some of the wonder that the sea is due.
I enjoy producing images that are a pleasure to look at. But it is also important to me for a piece to have some meaning beyond pure decoration. Balancing these elements is one of the things that makes the artistic endeavor endlessly challenging and exciting.
There was this pile of bright yellow-orange egg fruit on a red table at St. Croix’s St. George Village Botanical Garden last summer. The jumble of shapes lit with an intense swath of sunlight across the front was irresistible. So I took it home with me.
Occasionally I will go to work immediately on a photograph to produce a final image. However, just as common is the months-long gestation that this one required. Several times I worked on it, was dissatisfied and put it away — only to bring it out later, delete a layer or two (a little like scraping the paint off?) and move forward. That start and stop process sometimes produces an image that is over-worked. But in other cases, it is the only way.
Egg fruit - 2009
The painting-a-day discipline of carrying a painting forward to completion each day is different from the luxury of allowing an idea to gestate, going back days later, and reconsidering the strokes of the brush (or in my case, the stylus). Not better or worse, but different. So does that different process lead to different results?
We no longer trust beauty as a serious means of investigation. But it can be ... In fact, beauty can be incendiary; it can be subversive; it can make us cringe.
-- David Maisel, Photographer
"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it." -- Anais Nin
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders of the universe, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.” -- Rachel Carson