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Monday, June 21, 2010

Going East to see the West

Desert Scene-Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The title for this post came from advice that Charles Fletcher Lummis gave to Maynard Dixon. He actually said, "If you really want to see the West, go East." Makes sense if you are in California. So I took a trip back to Arizona recently, a much needed vacation. It was so good to get back to Arizona, to enjoy those Maynard Dixon skies and sleep under a canopy of stars each night. There were plenty of javelina, deer, bobcats and roadrunners making a daily pilgrimage to the troughs of water at my friend's ranch. We saw a sleeping rattlesnake in the bunk house, and one of the biggest spiders that I've ever seen. The desert is filled with unique critters, that's for sure.

I mentioned on my posterous blog how I often thought about the hardships that Maynard Dixon undoubtedly endured on his painting trips in the heat of Arizona's monsoon season. He traveled then because of the enormous clouds and dramatic contrasts. Also, remember that he traveled on horseback or by buggy. For me, being there on a 103 degree day, I couldn't help but think about Dixon sitting out there in the desert, probably pretty uncomfortable, but determined and inspired to record the magnificent vistas that he loved so passionately.

He wrote, "As for myself, my choice of profession could not have been otherwise. At an early age I had a deep and intuitive conviction that art was my calling, and I have never departed from it. It is not an occupation, it is a way of life. With all of its disadvantages (and in this land of ready made, there are many) I would not exchange it for any I know. To recreate with paint on canvas the wonder and beauty that I extract from this amazing western world of ours is for me enough."

A fortunate man, that Maynard Dixon.