Art favorites: Desert Scene

I stumbled across Hartley a couple years ago. So it was with great delight that I unexpectedly encountered him again in a museum on western art. Hartley spent just a very short time in the American West before leaving and never returning.

Desert Scene
Marsden Hartley
American (1877-1943)
Eiteljorg Museum

Time as a river, time as a pond


“Time as a river is more a Euro-American concept of time, with each event happening and passing on like a river flows downstream.

Time as a pond is a more Native American concept of time, with everything happening on the same surface, in the same area—and each event is a ripple on the surface.” ~ Dave Edmunds [Cherokee]

Wandering through the Eiteljorg Museum, I was struck by this different metaphor for time. A different way of looking at life. This quote juxtaposed the image of life whooshing by as a river, never to  return—you can’t step into the same river twice—with the image of life as a continuous whole.

What does it mean to see life as a pond, a self-contained body of water? To see things that happen in your life as ripples that ripple out to affect different bits of your life?

Instead of passing you by, as quickly or as slowly as the river flows, life exists. Sometimes turbulent. Sometimes still. But always a complete whole with one ripple impacting bits of your life or its entirety.

Stillwater Crossing

As I turned a corner and looked up, I was mesmerized. The painting of a bison crossing a body of water was so captivating. So lifelike. The bison itself was a work of art, but the way the water around the animal was depicted was so real. As if you could see the bison moving through the water, the waves that started at its shoulders and moved back, indicating forward movement. While the water in front of the bison was as smooth and silent as undisturbed water. With two aspen leaves floating untouched in front of the animal.

I found myself seated on the bench in front of the painting for some time. I pulled myself away to wander through the rest of the collections at the Eiteljorg Museum. At the end of my visit at the museum, I made a circuit of the pieces of art that caught my eye. And found myself back in front of Daniel Smith’s Stillwater Crossing. I tend to find artwork that draws me back time and time again to a museum. They become old friends that I seek out whenever I visit. I think Stillwater Crossing will be one of those friends.