Fire Article

Fire Article             

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Painting by Michael Cameron, Domestic Wild

An introductory note from co curator Doug Hamel


    The Main Gallery of the Whyte Museum has been transformed from a modern building to the ashen and ochre walls of a primitive, painted cave. A chamber dedicated to the many temperaments of fire. Here sequestered from the noise and bother of town, amongst the heavy silence, we are able to wander, to listen, to slow down, to wait. 

      What we are waiting for is what we humans have been waiting for since the initiatory caves of Lascaux, through the explosion of the renaissance, right up to “surround sound” and the digital effects of modern movie illusion; to gather in a dark room, to listen to stories and open.

      Opening requires stillness. Our internal latch will never unfasten if we are wrapped in the fettering duality of getting and spending. Ralph Waldo Emerson says “ We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles.” (1) Halting the existence of being pulled by opposites involves patience and a willingness to be effected.

     In the Elemental Inspiration Exposition, you may be halted by the surrender of a Miaolo brushstroke, the tender resilience of a plein air Emond water color, stand in front of a Cameron and feel the balance of fury and rapture, or witness the deep courage of ceramist Ed Bamling, where he surrenders his entire work to fire, while Craig Richards, like some trapper of light, snares the ghost of fire in its tracks.

      Whatever artwork strikes you, the result is still the same; a work of art has been realized. It is the viewer, who in their own stillness, perpetuates the artist’s innermost sensation waiting in the work. The internal world has Opened.  Again Emerson, “And in this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one.” (2)

      Thus the viewer is as important as the artist. You become the essential element. Each work needs the commitment of your imagination to fully combust. I invite you to discover the flash point in each of you by wandering through this new exhibit.  Here you may discover where your internal kindling ignites and burns towards New. And most importantly, cradle that flame, create and keep the fire alive.


1 and 2 – Quotes from The Portable Emerson , edited by Carl Bode in collaboration with Malcolm Cowley

                                                           The Viking Portable Library, Pages 210, 211





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