Monday, March 6, 2017

Byzantium

"Byzantium"  Oil on canvas,  15 3/4 x 39 3/4 in.













My painting takes it’s name from the ancient city of Byzantium, at the confluence of trade between the Aegean and Black Sea, founded in 667 by Byzas of Megara, Greece.  It would in the course of history become Constantinople, (324 AD), the Eastern capitol of the Christian, Roman Empire and eventually the seat of the Muslim, Ottoman Caliphate, (1453 AD). Today it is called Istanbul and a remarkable city that is representative of what is past, passing and to come.

This painting is inspired by Yeats vision of a layered but fixed world that is artificial, unchanging, where ornament or object are perhaps the ideal incarnation of the soul.  These lines from his poem “Sailing to Byzantium”, in particular, are a reference for my painting “Byzantium”.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enameling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Sailing to Byzantium


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Persephone Cycle, Part 1



































Above is my Collograph about the myth of Persephone and Demeter .  It is called “The Persephone Cycle.” Image size, 18x18 in.  It’s on display at Hinge Gallery  in March during the Quartermaster Press Print Show:  Life-Cycle

Part 1: The Myth of Persephone and Demeter 

 
Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of fertility, harvests, and perhaps the earliest version of a Great Earth Goddess except for Rhea, her own mother.  Beautiful, virginal, Persephone was Demeter’s daughter by Zeus and the maternal focus of her life.


Hades, Persephone’s uncle, fell in love with his young niece and decided that he would have Persephone for his bride but knew that Demeter would never approve of such an arrangement.  So, Hades colluded with Zeus, her father, his brother, who agreed to a secret “union” and to his plans for Persephone’s abduction.


One day Persephone was collecting flowers, when the earth suddenly opened before her and Hades rose from the crack and carried her down to his realm of the dead, beneath the Earth.


Upon learning of Persephone’s disappearance, Demeter searched the Earth, asking all she met if they had seen her beloved Persephone.  She even turned her daughter’s handmaidens into birds, later called the Sirens, so that they could aid her in her search.
Demeter grieved for her lost daughter. Nothing else mattered but seemingly nothing else could be done. In her despair she became unconcerned with the fruitfulness of the Earth and famine, for the first time, came to mankind. 


Eventually Demeter rested from her search at Eleusis. Disguised as an old woman, she found a position as nurse to Triptolemus, the infant son of King Celeus and fell in love.  This was a new, another, child to embrace and Demeter decided to favor him by feeding him ambrosia and each night in secret, holding the child over a fire to make him immortal.  Triptolemus’s mother stumbled upon this ceremony and misunderstanding Demeter’s intentions banished the old nurse from the palace. Demeter now revealed her true identity and ordered Celeus to build a temple that she would reside in, could grieve in, while a world devoid of her attention, starved.

The Persephone Cycle, Part 2

Left: Plate for Persephone cycle series of prints  Right: "Persephone Cycle II"













Part 2: The Myth of Persephone and Demeter

When Zeus could no longer ignore the suffering of mankind.  He sent Hermes as emissary to negotiate Persephone’s return to her mother.  Hades reluctantly agreed to her release and in parting gave Persephone, who had eaten nothing since her abduction, a pomegranate.  This apparent act of kindness was instead a deception and curse.  Anyone who eats the food of Hades must remain in his realm.  Persephone ate only a few seeds but that was enough for Hades to make the legitimate claim that she must remain with him.

Finally, Rhea, the mother of Zeus, Demeter and Hades, proposed a compromise. Persephone would have to stay with Hades in the Underworld for six months each year. The rest of the year, she would be allowed to ascend to Earth and live with her mother.  Hades would have Persephone as a consort and Demeter would restore Earth's fertility.

Persephone's cyclical descent to the dark Underworld and subsequent ascension to Earth, signify the progression of seasons, Fall and Winter succeeded by Spring and Summer. In the Fall, seeds are buried beneath the Earth and in the Spring, the seeds emerge to grow and flourish in sunlight. 

This cyclical transformation of life after death was celebrated at Eleusis, the site of Demeter’s temple and became known as the Eleusian Mysteries.  Demeter shared her knowledge of plant culture and harvest with Triptolemus who became her priest.  He in turn shared that knowledge with the people of the world and began teaching her mysteries in two types of initiations.  According to the “Homeric Hymn to Demeter” those initiations prepared the aspirant to receive the vision of light, to release subconscious fears and master them.  One was concerned with the reunion of the goddesses; the other concerned the possibility of man's immortalization.

The mythic story of the abduction of Demeter's daughter, Persephone, and her subsequent resurrection and return is thought to have been celebrated at Eleusis for almost 2000 years and it has continued to engage the world for thousands of years since.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Daphne, Want the Change at CVG Show
























Want the Change

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming
a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

Rainer Maria Rilke

My "Daphne," an oil on canvas over panel, who runs towards change and away from someone or something that she  perceives as inescapable (without change,) is on exhibit in: 

The 2017 Wahington State Juried Art Competition (The CVG Show).
Jan. 21- Feb. 25, Wed.  11 AM-5 PM, Sat & Sun. 12-4 PM.,  Collective Visions Gallery,   331 Pacific Avenue, Bremerton, WA

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fire From Heaven


Daniel Mendelsohn wrote, “The writers we absorb when we’re young bind us to them, sometimes lightly, sometimes with iron. In time, the bonds fall away, but if you look very closely you can sometimes make out the pale white groove of a faded scar, or the telltale chalky red of old rust.”  He was describing how Mary Renault’s books and her correspondence with him had influenced his life.  He could also have been describing the physical scars of a survivor of lightening strike.

I first read “Fire from Heaven,” and the “The Persian Boy” when I was 15 and Renault cast a literally spell over how I viewed my adolescent world.   In many ways the characters and places she described continue to influence how I filter circumstance and the art I create.

The biblical interpretation of  “Fire from Heaven” is about sacrifice, (burnt offerings) and retribution.  When I created my rust Monotype “Fire from Heaven” shortly after Trump won enough Electoral votes to qualify him for Presidency I admit thinking that fire from heaven (as in burnt offerings) was an appropriate (Karmic) end to those who had conjured him into power (you get what you wish for or deserve) but... 

That is not what my image is about; just the opposite.  It is instead about an idea or ability; a creative spark, received from an inclusive universe, that has no meaning without an appropriate receptor.  It is about the gift and the gifted.  It is about exceptional talent received and recognized as a gift from heaven.

Renault was writing about Alexander of Macedon and the seemingly supernatural gifts he was born with.  She was also describing gifts of friendship that we seek and that shape the physical form our aspirations take (in particular Alexander’s relationship to friend and lover Hephaestion).  

Fire From Heaven is a mixed media rust mono print on antique linen mounted to coped panel.

Link to Daniel Mendelsohn’s article in the The New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/07/the-american-boy

Sunday, December 4, 2016

All Creatures Great and Small


All animals, plants, and fungi share an ancestor that lived about 1.6 billion years ago. Every lineage that descended from that progenitor retains parts of its original genome.
All Creatures Great and Small is my Monotype about all that we have in common with our fellow creatures.  That includes of course the unique world that has shaped our evolution and the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, the DNA that we share.
Humans are most closely related to the great apes of the family Hominidae.  We share 98.8 percent of our DNA with bonobos and chimpanzees. 98.4 percent  with gorillas and with mice we share nearly 90 percent of human DNA. Humans and dogs share 84 percent of their DNA!  No wonder I love my dog. She is me!
Of course, humans, dogs, mice and apes are going to have DNA in common. They are all mammals. Humans and birds though are a different matter. Yet we, too, share a lot of DNA, 65 percent.  We even share a quarter of our DNA with a grain of rice. Amazing!  All Creatures Great and Small is  on display during the Vashon Holiday Studio Tour in my own studio the first two weekends  of December.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Brian Fisher Studio

























Vashon Island's Art Studio Tour 2016, the first two weekends in December, is a great opportunity to see, visit and purchase directly from the artists! 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Inspired by...




































Roby King Galleries on Bainbridge Island asked their artists, "What or who inspires you to be an artist?"  My reply, "Story and Myth, all that stuff we come back to when looking for answers, and the master of Myth, Joseph Campbell".  Those are my inspirations.  I also would say Michael Meade and his insights keep my top spinning!

I am inspired by these words by Campbell and have them on the wall in my studio: 

"We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us, the labyrinth is fully known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; 
where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; 
where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; 
where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
― Joseph Campbell.
 
Posted above is my Monoprint “Foundation Myth”, my take on the union of Europa and Zeus.  Their story is told and retold in all European cultures.  Europe of course takes it's name from Europa.  All three of their children Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon are founders of empires (Crete, The Cyclades and Lycia). 

Like all Greek myths, this foundation myth has variations, shadows and stories within stories.   And so, another story and inspiration!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cygnus


Horizon and sky are the most memorable characteristics of the midwestern landscape I was born to.  I suspect the knowledge my father shared with me and with my siblings, lying on our backs in the buffalo grass of our grandparent’s Kansas farm and gazing up through night binoculars, predated his studies at Denver University, Colorado and Hays College, Kansas in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Wherever, whenever, his knowledge came from, his passion for stargazing is memorable and has inspired my Rust Monotype “Cygnus”.
My Father, Dale Fisher, was born April 20, 1913 into a world of kerosene and candles, well before manmade light and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 dimmed his world to the heavens. My dad’s perspective about sky included a classical explanation of the constellations, lay observation of the stars/planets and an avid curiosity about the physical world that caused him to call his family outside to witness sputnik traversing the night sky.
His is the voice that conjured the stories of Ursas major and minor, the Pleiades, Andromeda and Cygnus into my consciousness for the first time. 
Cygnus is one of the most recognizable and brightest constellations in the Northern sky from June to December.  Look up. Of course those are heavenly wings spread; a beak and tail!  Yes, I see a swan!
According to Ovid, Cygnus was a close friend, maybe lover, of Phaethon.  Phaethon died (by his grandfather Zeus’s lightening bolt) when he recklessly scorched the earth while driving the family’s (Sun) chariot. Poor Cygnus’s grief for his beloved transformed him into a swan fearful of fire from heaven and so he chose to live in damp marshes, lakes and rivers.
“As he mourned, his voice became thin and shrill, and white feathers hid his hair. His neck grew long, stretching out from his breast, his fingers reddened and a membrane joined them together. Wings clothed his sides, and a blunt beak fastened on his mouth. Cygnus became a new kind of bird: but he put no trust in the skies, or in Zeus, for he remembered how that god had unjustly hurled his flaming bolt.
Instead, Cygnus looked for marshes and broad lakes, and in his hatred of flames chose to inhabit the river that would quench fire. Ovid, Metamorphoses II.
My “Cygnus” Print, (approximately 36 x 36 in.) is a Monotype rusted to vintage linen and mounted on a coped wooden panel.  “Cygnus” represents transformation, a change in form that embodies becoming who we already are.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Omphalos

This is "Omphalos", a Rust Monoprint with Gold Leaf, mounted to a coped dimensional panel.  It's dimensions are approximately 36 x 36 x 1 3/4 inches.  I made it by rusting a water-jet cut Cort-en steel plate onto/into an antique linen tablecloth.

Omphalos means navel, as in belly button, (umbilicus in Latin) and it also means "The Center."  The Omphalos Stone at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi Greece marked the center of the old Greek world.

Each culture has its recognized center.  Sometimes more than one. For instance, the USA's political Omphalos would be the White House in Washington DC and cultural center might perhaps be Rockefeller Center in New York City (or not).  In every culture it depends on who's telling the story!

If you would like to see "Omphalos," the current center of my world, please visit the annual Seattle Print Arts Members Exhibition, Pressing On, with an opening reception today, Thursday, November 17th,  5-8 pm, at the Schack Art Center in Everett (2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett, WA).   You will find "Omphalos" and some exceptional work by the members of Seattle Print Arts from November 17 - December 24.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Gemini


The Gemini, Rust Mono Print, Vintage Linen mounted to Panel, 11x11 in.











Gemini is one of the brighter constellations of the Zodiac. In the Northern Hemisphere, it lights up the early evening sky from January until May.

The constellation is said to represent the twins of Greek myth Castor and Polydeuces. These brothers are also known as the Dioskouroi or Dioscuri, meaning “sons of Zeus.”  In Latin they are called the Gemini.

Myths differ but in the best known story of their parentage and birth, their mother Leda, a Queen of Sparta, was seduced by a swan that turned out to be Zeus.  Amorous Leda soon thereafter also conceived by her husband Tyndareus and gave birth to an egg or eggs that contained the male twins Castor and Polydeuces and female twins Helen and Clytemnestra.  These siblings play significant roles in the many myths that describe the Trojan War, Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece and even the Theseus myth.

Castor and Polydeuces are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both divine and sometimes one divine and the other mortal.  However the myth is told, they are devoted to each other and when Castor was slain in battle, his grieving twin begged their father Zeus to reunite them.

He placed them in the night sky where to this day Castor and Polydeuces shine as the constellation Gemini and as testament to the constancy of brotherly love.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Night Cometh, Still Working


Outside / In Fisher Studio



































   

Night Cometh!  Our season of sun and long hours to work and to play in is fading.  Where did the Summer go?  I am very thankful for the long hot August days I’ve had to “Rust Print” in and appreciative now of Puget Power and Light to extend the workday beyond the Biblically allotted 12 hours of light!  And I’m taking full advantage of all the light-emitting diodes in my new studio to complete what I have started in Summer light!

Inside / Out  Fisher Studio