15 July 2011

Alan Sonfist, land artist

The summer 2011 issue of Art news has an article by Ann Landi on Alan Sonfist. I loved walking by his garden of native plants not far from my apartment in Greenwich Village, New York City. Sonfist grew up in the Bronx and contemplated a life as a farmer but discovered that modern farming was more real estate and finance than working with the earth. He discovered, during his student days at the University of Illinois, a book by Hoyt L. Sherman, a professor of fine arts at Ohio State. Sonfist "went on to study under Sherman at Ohio State before returning to New York with a changed perspective on his calling."

14 July 2011

nature and art, before and after

We went on some expeditions to seaside places when I visited CDS in Maine. After exploring some neighborhoods in Portland, we went down to see the Portland Head Light and then on to Two Lights Head. It was pretty exciting as the tide was coming in and the waves crashed ever higher. We went out to Georgetown Island the next day. It's one of the finger points along the coast between Portland and Rockland, South of Bath. The landscape is lovely. The water wasn't too rough either day but the waves are relentless.

I went to the Portland Museum of Art on my last day to see the Marin and Maine modernists shows, along with the permanent collection. Marin really paints the spirit of the ocean and I could feel the ocean as well as see it when I looked at the works. It was wonderful to have the natural and painted worlds so close in time and space.

The Maine modernists show was, however, the reverse. The show included considerable documentary material about the various artists who had worked in Seguinland. That term was then used for several communities South of Bath, including Georgetown and named after Seguin Island which is at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Artists in the show included several that I am fond of, such as F. Holland Day and Marsden Hartley, as well as others with whom I am familiar. I wished that I'd been to that show beforehand. I took a picture near where Day had his house and studio, and where he took some of his romantic pictures of naked young men. Another picture was of a cove, more or less across the road from the Lachaise house.

Hartley used to visit Gaston Lachaise and his wife at their house in Georgetown Center and moved permanently back to Maine soon after visiting Mrs Lachaise after Gaston died in 1935. If we'd seen the show and had the catalog in hand, perhaps we could have wasted a lot of time to find the actual locations and poked our noses into someone's private space. We just got the aura.

There's a wonderful small Hartley in the show that has splotches of rock and water. That was great to see after having stood on the rocks, watching waves.

I'm not sure why Seguinland is so named but I couldn't help but wonder if it was related to Seguin, Texas. Wikipedia tells me that the city in Texas was named after Juan Seguín, veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto and later a senator. I didn't check the Moderns catalog but the web hasn't yet told me the source of Seguinland in Maine.