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Mystic Landscapes Portfolio

God. What an elusive concept.

In his first published novel, The Moviegoer, Walker Percy writes that his protagonist, a young New Orleans stockbroker, Jack “Binx” Bolling, has fallen under the spell of “the search.” The novel begins with a description of how the routine of his everyday life has somehow become disturbingly alien to him, and so, of necessity, he begins a quest to find meaning and ultimately, “God.”

On the one hand, given the mind-numbing complexity of the universe, it might seem as if God is everywhere we look. And yet the world is a truly brutal place, where the only certainty is our own death and that of those whom we love, where plants and animals must devour each other, or at a minimum, ruthlessly outcompete their neighbors in order to survive. And nothing is constant, only change, so much so that even the seemingly eternal (by puny human standards) planets and stars have a life cycle.

 

But still, the universe in which we live is a truly wondrous place, given to moments of beauty that are so overwhelming as to be painful. And there is love, the antidote to the ugliness of which there is so much. Fortunately, humans have also been endowed, like much of nature, with remarkable resilience.

How does one reconcile such extremes—the horror and the sublimity of it all? Where do notions of God fit into such an awareness? That conundrum is at the core of my second book project (and yet another portfolio), tentatively entitled Some Where No Where There, In Between, but the images for this collection have another goal in mind: awe.

     Despite the challenges that I have faced (and still do) in my life, I feel steeped in awe, and with it, gratitude. Gratitude for the privilege of having been alive and the gift of my five senses, even with their severe limitations, that allow me to strain to take it all in. Although guttering at times, precisely because the world can be a hard place in which to live, the flame of that gratitude still burns brightly within me, in part because of experience of moments such as those documented in this show. In each of these images, I feel something eerie … spiritual, a sense of mystery, or more specifically, the Mystery, which is my term for what most people call God, inspired by a translation of the Tao Te Ching by John C. H. Wu. In each of the images, taken in seven different states in widely varying terrains and conditions of light, I see something spiritual, mysterious, and awe-inspiring, even if not necessarily (although in some cases they are) grand. Whether it be in the austere deserts of California, a gator-infested Louisiana swamp, a windswept battleground in Montana, or a Texas gas station at night where someone left the light on in the office, these are places that, when the conditions are right, I get goosebumps as I sense, like the character of the little girl in Poltergeist, that “they’re heeere.”

To capture these images, I had to travel long distances to sometimes distant, faraway places over many years of time. They are the product of my own personal version of “the search.”

We all search, because that is our nature, whether we believe or not.

I am not certain of the existence of God, nor am I certain that God does not exist, but I am certain that the Mystery does. I can see them in these images. I hope that you can, too.

 

Winter Flood

Bogue Falaya River, Louisiana

Strange Red Dust

Potter County, Texas

The Wave

Tucumcari, New Mexico

Blank Screen

Anza Borrego Desert, California

Three States of Matter

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

The Road Home

Taos, New Mexico

An Aura of Mystery

Natalbany River Bottom, Louisiana

Here, It Is

Interstate 40, Arizona

Lost at Sea

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Above the Abyss

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Out on the Llano

Llano Estacado, New Mexico

In the Lair of the Swamp Witch

Natalbany River Bottom, Louisiana

Awakening

Cranky Corner, Louisiana

EAT

I-15, California

Natural Law

Natalbany River Bottom, Louisiana

Black Bird

Imperial County, California

Anamnesis

I-40 Service Road, Texas

Winter Night

Louisiana

Roadside Apparition

Holbrook, Arizona

Looking Glass

Potter County, Texas

The Good Shepherd

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Awe Struck

Zappata Falls Parking Lot, Colorado

Under Heaven

Tchefuncte River Marsh, Louisiana

Hope

Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana

The Last Oasis

Highway 86, California

Around Midnight

Highway 287, Texas

Have a Nice Day

Ocotillo, California

Blue Fugue #2

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana
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