A Tethys Ocean

Notes on A Tethys Ocean

I began painting seascapes from the high bluffs at the edge of the continent where the vistas are grand and breathtaking. But when I spent long hours at the edge, my spirit felt untethered by the open sea and sky and unraveled by the realization that none of my well-worn narratives belonged to that place. Despite these misgivings, I hunkered down, got to work, and allowed the paintings their own unpremeditated evolution.

When I was ready to write about the project, I asked myself what the images were trying to tell me. There were no easy answers. The question brought me face to face with the non-linearity of experience: a frightful chaos of feelings and emotions that came attached to my images. My mind went every which way and got nowhere, and in the same way that nature secures her mysteries, the paintings held onto their secrets.

After a great deal of fussing and fuming, I decided that the secret-holders supported mysteries as metaphysical attachments: connectors, bonds, and data. As I bent my mind to that idea, the paintings came into focus.

To my surprise, the attachments spoke directly to my deeply held hopes and fears. Therefore, if I was in an expansive mood, I opened myself to an out-of-the-ordinary experience in place and time. When I wanted to believe that nature could win over mankind’s ruinous occupation, I allowed the primordial sea to be the winner and my littoral zones to be cast as environments pregnant with possibilities. And, if my faith in mankind failed me, my scenes unfolded as beautiful, end-time dystopias.

At the edge, I met the sea, indifferent to mankind and driven by its own imperatives, and I met my own instinctive nature — that  self-driven and solitary part of me that was indifferent to community. In reality and in my mind, edge states were fascinating and terrifying. Friends will hear me struggle to reconcile uncertainty, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Given the chance, I’d build a house on a high bluff above the Pacific Ocean and stay put until the elements undid my doing.


* During the Mesozoic era, the Tethys Ocean divided the super continents of Gondwana and Laurasia, until colliding continents displaced its waters. In archaic Greek mythology, Tethys was an aquatic sea goddess and a first generation Titan.

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