Monday, May 16, 2011

Avvenimento #247

Somehow, during the Spring of 1989, I was able to convince my parents to let me spend the following Summer in Alaska working for an extremely remote resort.  My 10th Grade History teacher was also a National Park Service Officer stationed at Glacier Bay in the John Muir Inlet.  Because of his connections with the adjacent hotel and lodge, he was able to offer a handful of us the opportunity to earn some extra money, experience the true wilds of America, and take a giant step towards cerebral maturing.  It was an experience I will never, ever forget only tainted by age yet riddled with emotions I dare suggest I'll ever revisit.

It was in August that the Aurora Borealis began to make their appearance.  My first sighting--while the darkness of night was beginning to return--was when my teacher and I took a kayak cruise into Bartlett Cove towards the Strawberry Islands.  These were spherical mounds of land not much larger than a car that would briefly connect when the drastic tide changes would wane, often stranding overly gluttonous bears that wandered onto the islands in search of fresh berries.  As we slid Northeast, the ripples created by the bow of the kayak and each pass of my paddle in the water would activate luminous plankton that yielded a lime-green glow as they were agitated.  And as if this already spectacular and quiet night of exploration couldn't get any more surreal, across the night sky an orange and yellow fractal began to form and connect like synapses.

The most stunning night I experienced, however, was during my final week of work.  I was out late in the night walking around and enjoying the brilliant display of stars when a large ribbon began to form from the Northeast stretching to the South.  In all my life, I've never seen anything natural, technical, or otherwise able to recreate what nature was unfolding right before my eyes.  It was as if I was granted a view of heaven!  Little, old me!  Staring upwards through a liquid stained glass window as the legs of Angels passed to and fro.

Avvenimento #247 by Edmondo Bacci (1913-1978) is an abstract painting exhibiting the collision of darkness and light, color and shadow.  Using a wide palette, Bacci's two dimensional piece seems to dance in three dimensions.  An Independent Editor named Lucy Flint had these poignant words to say about the piece:
The painting is like a scenario in which light is separated from darkness and space from matter.  Planetary forms seem to coalesce out of material produced by a cosmic eruption; they prepare to establish their orbits and generate life.  The immediacy and drama of the event is conveyed through the tactility of the surface.  The paint, mixed with sand, is encrusted on the canvas to form a kind of topographic ground evoking plains, ridges, lakes, and peaks.  The activity of the artist in ordering chaos is associated with elemental creational processes within the universe.
 Ms. Flint puts it better than I could ever even attempt.  What I can share, though, are my impressions which I hope will relay the same beauty I experienced when I first saw this painting.  Rambling as they may seem, I hope you will bear with me.  It's not easy trying to express an abstract piece of art without the ability to allow our hearts and minds meld together.

Immediately, it feels as if I'm viewing an articulate scene of color and movement behind an imperfect sheen of ice.  It'd be like traversing inside a waterway cave inside a glacier where the shapes and brilliant blue hues have already left me breathless.  As I make my way towards an opening, the light of day and reflection off the snow highlight an area inside the ice where some kind of cosmic activity has been captured.  I don't suppose it would be too large an area and most certainly, it'd be something no other human eyes have seen.  There, with mouth gaped open, I would stare at the evolving movements of ink and paint rotating and dancing together.  Almost as if the elements came alive in ways that were not intended for us to see or know.

I can still see the ribbon of Northern Lights in my mind; it was one of those events that left a permanent stain on my memory.  I have no intention of forgetting and though time may have skewed my recollection, Bacci's work exhibits many of the same features and emotions that nature shared with me that late Summer night.  For me, it's an experience I'll probably never get to enjoy again but at least I know I can have the talents of painters like Bacci to please my sense and desire to see and touch heaven.

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