Muir Woods, California/ Of Trees and Paintings

I visited Muir Woods near San Francisco in July on a study trip. It is a parcel of land, 554 acres, saved from logging in 1908 by President Roosevelt, named for the great naturalist John Muir. The forest was cool, fragrant, resonant with bird song and small streams springing out of the hillsides. The trees are impossibly tall: Gothic trees with leaves and sky instead of stained glass. Redwoods grow in families around a mother tree. They produce saplings in a ring creating magical shelters in circles. Even if the mother tree is burnt in a forest fire, the saplings spring up from the roots.

Painting grows like sapling. It pushes up from one work to another in families. Some are twins, siblings, first cousins and distant cousins. Some paintings are long lost aunts showing up after many years bearing a family resemblance to the newest kid on the block. Sometimes paintings are mavericks, bearing no resemblance to their family, going rogue. I pay attention to those works, try to understand them, tease out their common genes from earlier work. Some are thresholds to new work or just transitions that stay in the studio. Like the redwoods, they are evidence of ideas; root and branch leafing out in the world.

Painting by Janet ReadThreshold, 42×30, acrylic, 2013

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