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5.08.13 ~ have you strung your soul to silence? baldy mountain from wilson mesa, reconsidered

by | May 8, 2013 | Baldy Mountain, mixed media landscape, new mexico landscapes, Philmont, Philmont Ranger, text in art, The Call of The Wild, Wilson Mesa

have you gazed…. ~ baldy mountain from wilson mesa, reconsidered ~ by dawn chandler ~ mixed media on panel (diptych) ~ 36″ x 72″ ~ copyright dawn chandler 2013

This is exciting: Tomorrow is the opening of The Gift of Inspiration, a special invitational art exhibition at the Philmont Museum. The show features the art of select former Philmont staff members who’ve gone on to pursue careers in the arts, and I’m honored — thrilled! — to have been invited to participate.

It’s also the the unveiling of the first piece in my new series of paintings combining traditional landscape painting with “abstract” or unexpected elements. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s been a long-held dream of mine to find a way to combine my two “styles” of painting — traditional landscape and more abstract mixed media works, I just never really quite knew how to do it.

But then some things started to happen — about which I wrote a few weeks ago.

Thanks to those influences, I was inspired to infiltrate my landscape paintings with fragments of textof personally meaningful passages of words. The text I chose for this first series is that of Robert Service’s 1910 poem, The Call of The Wild.

Have you gazed on naked grandeur…

Have you swept the visioned valley…

Have you strung your soul to silence…

Have you wandered in the wilderness…

Have you camped upon the foothills….

Have you roamed the arid sun-lands….

….Then for God’s sake go and do it.

Though poetry scholars have long rolled their eyes at Service’s doggeral lyricism, this poem is none the less one which fueled the passions of my peers and me “back in the day” when we roamed the arid sun-lands” teaching back-packing and camping skills as Rangers at Philmont.
After forgetting about the poem for over two decades, I came across it again this winter when I found my old Wilderness Quotes booklet from my Rangering days.

Service’s words ended up being the perfect jumping off point for developing my new series of paintings, especially as I’ve been thinking more and more about land and nature and the environment. In this 21st century, fewer and fewer people have gazed on naked splendor, or swept their eyes across the visioned valleys. In this crazy modern world of constant updates from wired devises, few have strung their soul to silence. When I think of my backpacking buddies from my young adulthood — and even myself until just recently — how many still camp upon the foothills or roam the arid sun-lands? 

Damn few.

We’re losing touch with these places, and with that loss, losing a key sense of our own soulsnever mind the irreparable loss of the wild places.

I think I’ve found my soapbox. 
Only mine is made of panels and paint… and words.

 More to come.

Have you gazed…. so large (relative to my studio and car!) that I had to make it as a diptych (two panels together measuring 36″ x 72″), and the only place I could fit it to work on it was on my kitchen table!
Incidentally, I’ve had prints of this painting made; they’re available through my online print shop via Etsy. Click here to get there.

Some details: