Monday, November 13, 2006

Anti-Travel

Eighty-nine year old, Andrew Wyeth is one of my favorite painters. Maybe it has something to do with my photo-realist training. Perhaps, I am intrigued by his continuous fifteen year obsession and secret paintings of the model, Helga Testorf. Then again I find the fact that he never really “went” anywhere as fascinating as my own selfish desire to travel everywhere. Wyeth has basically spent his long productive life in two places: Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Cushing, Maine. Rembrandt was equally notorious for never traveling very far from his Leiden birthplace. Can an anti-travel approach be just as strong of an inspiration as the immersion travel ideal?

I admit I have long collected fantasies of holing-up in a smallish cabin somewhere such as the Yaak Valley of Montana or some break-away outpost of the Alaskan interior; a place where my books and paint are the only opportunities for entertainment – living within a time when perfect moments are more important than responsible actualities.

The question is would it be enough? It wouldn’t take much to live on, if I were to eighty-six my lust for good cuisine and material entertainment; convince my family that new clothes (and everything else) are no longer necessary. Would a home/studio full of books and family be sufficient to keep one’s mind from straying to “grass is greener” clich├ęs? A daily regiment of chores to keep the homestead operating, while still allowing time to read, write and paint; but I suppose this is becoming more of a description of self-reliance than anything else.

Although I practice my immersion travel art movement as a path to understanding the cultures, landscapes and societies encountered along the journey; I wonder if the same philosophy can be applied to a permanent stay in one unfamiliar location. A lifetime of dedication consigned to that one perfect place. An eternal moment that gives birth to an unending idea. Wyeth and Rembrandt seemed to have found some secret path or routine to satisfaction. Is that clandestine truth as elusive as it often seems? – DN

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