Friday, February 13, 2009

River Horizon

I like horizons.  In New Mexico, the horizon was often straight and perfectly horizontal.  At least that's how I remember it.  Here, in the Hudson Valley, the Hudson Highlands are a fortress and rampart-like backdrop to the long, horizontal line the river makes against the shore.  I guess that's the horizon here, or an echo of one – a sub-horizon.  

I walk by the river twice a day and have a winter view of it from an upstairs window, and that profound horizontality always moves me.  It's so grounded, so "rivered."  I love the granite cliffs, bluffs and sugarloaf mini-mountains, too.  But my eye invariably descends to the base of those soft/craggy hills and lingers at the waterline.

Perhaps my being born on a small island in the Atlantic and spending the first few years of my life in the water and on the beach, often gazing out across the ocean at some distant boat or cloud or seagull, or simply at the horizon, has something to do with my love of the infinite lateral line.  

Agnes Martin talked about growing up on the plains of Saskatchewan, and having a similar fondness for, or imprinting of, open skies and the ruler-straight edge between two vast expanses, one atop the other.

I'm working on a 7 x 15-foot painting about the Hudson river.  It was going to be 20 feet long, but I decided to rotate the three panels ninety degrees, from horizontal to vertical, to better explore the frisson between standing bluffs and reposing water.  Above all, this painting (or my thinking about the unfinished painting) is about that indefatigable horizontality, with its depths, metaphysical and otherwise, layered like Agnes Martin's ruled and painted lines, above and below the mind's horizon.

Image from Dia:Beacon.

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