March 12th – April 16th, 2022
I am moved by nature’s brilliant forest forms and ephemeral blur of nature’s uncertainties – but terrified by the clanging alarms of environmental calamity. The comfort of four predictable seasons has disappeared – a fifth season of extremes is a weird new uncertainty.
I am especially interested in accelerating forest wildfires, foreshadowing global change. This collection was primarily inspired hiking the high country of Sequoia National Park in December 2021, in the aftermath of last year’s devastating KNP Complex and Windy Fires that decimated many groves of magnificent giant sequoias. Thousands of these incredible trees perished and many more will suffer delayed mortality. Megafires throughout the West are inevitable.
My December excursion to Sequoia was planned as the first in a project to witness impacts of wildfire largely caused by tragic combinations of severe drought, ill-conceived corporate and public policies, and escalating development into wild areas (the Urban-Wilderness Interface). Fittingly (I suppose) from Sequoia, heading north to the site of the Sierra’s massive Caldor Fire, I was forced back by an unusual “atmospheric river” of extreme precipitation from the Pacific.
As a hearing-impaired kid often cocooned in a private world, I’d squint at light, absorbed in the passing blur of the street. Still today, I find comfort in that place to make my pictures – impressions of light, place, and nature’s grand experiment.
I use a recto-verso process of my own design, combining inkjet-printed images and layers of acrylic paint applied to the back (verso) of transparent panels. I then sand the front (recto) with increasing fineness to the desired finish, the surface floating a few millimeters above the image.
Born and raised in New York, Dan moved to Durham in 1990 to lead planning and design for the North Carolina Museum of Art. He retired from NCMA in 2021, having overseen the environmental transformation of its degraded site to a museum-within-a-park. Dan’s art and design education was at SUNY Buffalo then San Diego State University, supporting himself as a cabinetmaker. During his ten years in California, he explored its remarkable enviorments and began his experiments with alternative photographic processes
As America’s civil society erodes with terrifying speed and facts are re-cast as fake, it might seem trivial to dwell on nice pictures of nature. Or – just perhaps – reflecting on nature’s grand experiment now is more relevant than ever.
My own interest in and appreciation of nature’s ever-changing patterns deepens with the years. Our planet is an incredible laboratory of bio-chemical chance, evolution, and pattern – all in motion. These pictures attempt to evoke a personal view of nature’s fixed and shifting patterns of light and form.
I confess to photographic tendencies of a late 19th / early 20th Century Pictorialist, crafting soft-focus landscapes imbued with a certain romanticism, albeit made with my own processes, and with ample physical manipulation. I’m most comfortable with one foot in photography, one in painting, and a third in design and craft.
Landscapes in 4/3 time: Jazz is so interesting – any good tune has literally endless variations. I think its structure can be an apt metaphor for my perceptions of nature’s cool improvisation: an endless interplay of fixed and variable ingredients. Walking a forest’s shifting light, energy is syncopated with predictable and unexpected variables. A great tree’s awesome form bends in the wind. Leaves scatter in gorgeous patterns. Shadows shift and I walk in rhythm with a 4/3 camera to an upward swing and long exposure. If lucky, a good landscape is composed with the promise of art – and relevance.