narratives on paintings



CONATA BASIN, in South Dakota, is a portrait of the ailing Great Plains in microcosm. Adjacent to Badlands National Park, the basin is the site of a black-footed ferret reintroduction program. The critically endangered ferret attacks a black-tailed prairie dog, its exclusive food source. The prairie dog itself has been the target of relentless poisoning and shooting campaigns for many decades. Bison skulls litter the badlands, a testament to the recently extirpated herds.. An endangered American burying beetle makes an appearance. A prairie falcon, its population formerly threatened by DDT, hovers.

YOLO is named for a wintering ground of the sandhill crane in the Sacramento Delta of California. A species that has rebounded after decades of market hunting, it is still subject to regulated sport hunting. The intrusion of man on the landscape is indicated by the leg hold trap, which may have been set for furbearers such as muskrat, otter or coyote.

ADMONITION is what Western scrub jays fiercely communicate to a barn owl, which has made the mistake of showing itself by day in the branches of a valley oak.

The title, PREDECESSORS, refers to the countless communal generations of acorn woodpeckers, which inhabited the Western landscape before the coming of man.
The distant view is of the new settlement of Kelseyville circa 1868, in what is now Lake County, California.

THE ROSEVILLE SALMON depicts a Chinook salmon making the final ascent to its gravel spawning beds in a tributary of the Sacramento River. Sensing an opportunity,
a bald eagle and a common raven attend the great fish.

KELSEYVILLE, MAY shows the flaring reaction of a California thrasher to the sight of a gopher snake. It is a scene most likely observed in Spring, when the ambient temperature is just right for serpent mobility and birds are nesting.

REGENERATION shows the relentless cycle of life and death, which is evident everyday in the Lamar Valley of the Upper Yellowstone River country of Wyoming.
After being extirpated from the American West, gray wolves were reintroduced from Canada in the 1990s. They have subsequently reduced local elk numbers by 60%, helping reestablish a balanced ecosystem.

In BLOODY ISLAND, an American white pelican retrieves evidence from the murky waters of Clear Lake, California of a recent massacre of Pomo Indians by the U.S. Army.
A Pomo village burns onshore. A red-winged blackbird flares its military epaulettes.










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