It was a cold day back in February that I first approached Grey Lee with some ideas about bringing art to Land’s Sake. It took but a few seconds to realize that something similar was already on his mind, and that using creativity and creative programs to connect people to the land was secure on his agenda. So began the concept of the first Land’s Sake Artist in Residence (AiR) program.
In case you hadn’t noticed, every day, every hour really, brings something new to Land’s Sake. The energy here is amazing, and it is bursting forth all around. In the pre-season, it was subtle—a wildflower poking up at the edge of the last snow, or the sun offering ever increasing warmth as its morning rays broke over the sleepy farm stand. The daily changes are dramatic. If you blinked, you missed the strawberries. And who can even remember the rhubarb and asparagus?
So this is a big part of why I do art—to capture these special, fleeting moments and try to chronicle the magic that this place gives us through the season. For me, it all fits into a broader endeavor: to promote the notion of sustainability. I truly believe that art of the land helps us be more thoughtful and approach our surroundings with a lighter hand. It awak
ens our eConsciousness, as I like to call it, allowing us to realize the power we have to turn natural order and balance into something quite other if we’re not attentive and principled in our actions. In words, no one puts it better than the noted biologist and environmentalist, David Suzuki, who writes in his book The Sacred Balance, “Each of us is quite literally air, water, soil, and sunlight, and what cleanses and renews these elements of life is the web of living things on the planet. These are the fundamental building blocks of sustainable lives and societies.” Expressing this for the left side of the brain is what the AiR program has given me a chance to do.
So, I’m a pastelist, inclined to work in the field–en plein air as they say–as much as possible. That means porting a few dozen sticks of dry, breakable pigment, and my easel, to a spot where the view’s just right and the wind is strong enough to sweep away the dust—but not my paper. I used to think that the oil painters would be envious of the simplicity of my set-up, but I’m not so sure any more. Regardless, both in the studio and out in the field, there is more to capture than I could possibly keep up with.
I began with an image of ‘the bear’, a beautifully rust colored iron and wood sculpture hiding out in a grove of trees (ok, near the bees). One look told me his story. Bearing a fish in his mouth, he became, on my easel, Spring Awakening, emerging from winter rest to grace the land with his offering. An early morning walk past the ‘stand’, shelves bare of goods for not too long, graced me with a sunrise peeking from behind. This was my Awaiting Spring Light. I then captured daffodils saluting, and fields of straw waiting for strawberries to come, and of course an overflowing berry harvest in the hands of a willing farmer. Perhaps my favorite to date was prompted by a flight of imagination combined with a hint from Google Earth—A Farm Point of View. What I like best about this piece is the bird’s eye perspective, which reminds us of the land that connects both country and city, and of our need to tend it well, wherever.
This pastel adventure has allowed me to explore not only the beauty that surrounds us, but also the boundaries of technique, and the vagaries of displaying art outdoors, on a farm, in the rain. I have had fun learning about reproduction processes, and the extraordinary art of giclee printing. Plus, I’ve met some wonderful and dedicated people…like Melanie, and Liz, and Glenn, and Ronnit, and Ben, and Dave, and Dan, and others who’s names I’ve let slip.
Bottom line (sorry, that sounds a bit much like business speak), I’m very appreciative to have the chance to pioneer a program that, for Land’s Sake I hope will catch on and grow. Art can truly help us all—kids and grownups—stop and look. Really look. Which I’m afraid isn’t nearly enough done nowadays as it should be.
To order notecards and originals of Larry’s work, please call the Land’s Sake office at 781-893-1162. Larry will also be displaying his work at the WACA (Weston Arts & Crafts Association) Holiday Show and Sale, December 3-6. A portion of sales of these original artworks will help support Land’s Sake programs.