Spring White


The winter has been going on and on.




Winter, oil on canvas, 1932. 

Jose Clemente Orozco, 1883-1949, Mexican.  Los Angeles County Museum of Art on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2016/2017 






Cold City, watercolour mounted on maroon paper mounted on cardboard. 

Paul Klee,  1879-1940, Swiss. Metropolitan Museum, NY







Tenant Farmer and detail ,1961, tempera on Masonite.  Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009, American.  Delaware Art Museum. 

The artist said that this deer seemed to have an affinity with the willow tree and with the farm building almost as though he lived there.  He had a dream of hundreds of deer encircling this house and he painted this image in order to remove that image from his mind.







Spring Rain and detail, 1912, oil on canvas. 

John Sloan, 1871-1951, American.  A member of the turn-of-the-20th-century Philadelphia Ashcan Group all of whose members migrated to New York. Delaware Art Museum




Ivy in a south-facing window has kept me green company.







Night Still Life and detail, 1962, oil on canvas. 

Elizabeth Osborne, born 1936, American.  Private collection on exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, in 2016




Only one of my potted geraniums in another window has survived the winter.






Pot of Geraniums, 1912, oil on linen. 

Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC




Plants brought in for the winter are straining to get outdoors.






Within, 2016, oil on linen. 

Tony Martlock, American, born 1984.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia




I put on my Napoleonic flower-power outfit for this rite of passage.  I don’t want any nonsense out there.







Three Cornered Hat and detail, c. 1943, oil on canvas.  Walt Kuhn, 1880-1949.  Baltimore Museum of Art.




On a day of rising green,  I leave the city with my Flower Observatory folded up in the back of my car. 







Spring, c. 1916, oil on canvas.  Giocamo Balla, 1871-1958,  Italian.  Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY 

The Italian Futurist stops looking at his machines for a moment to pay homage.




I am going to look for the first flowers of the year. 



I leave the city travelling up the west of the Schuylkill River (Philadelphia).






Washington Bridge, New York, oil on canvas and detail, c.1915-1925.

Ernest Lawson, 1873-1939, American.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington




As I reach the green areas surrounding the city, the city looks like a dream, a mirage.





The Three Willows, c. 1942, watercolour on paper. 

John W. McCoy, 1910-1989, American.  Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington.







Pine Forest II and detail, 1901, oil on canvas. 

Gustav Klimt, 1822-1918.  Private collection on display in the Baltimore Museum of Art, 2017




And near the edge of the pine forest, I install my Flower Observatory.  In fair weather, not too cold, I climb up, balance myself between its petals, and wait.








Flower Observatory and details, 2004, steel.

  Oliafur Eliasson, Danish, born 1967.  Baltimore Museum of Art




On very bright days when the blaze off the steel  of the Flower Observatory is so bright that they blind me,  I use Martin Puryear’s half-bridge in the park for my vigil.




Martin Puryear Pavillion in Fairmount Park October 9, 2015-12

Martin Puryear Pavillion in Fairmount Park October 9, 2015-07

Pavilion in the Trees, completed 1993.

Martin Puryear, American born 1941. West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.



My razor focus.





The Amazon, oil on canvas, 1925. 

Joseph Stella, 1877-1966, born Italy, died New York.  Baltimore Museum of Art




There are always birds who accompany me.  They perch on their own observatory, surrounded by their mysterious symbols.






Cicadia, 1973, oil, oil crayon and pastel on canvas. 

Pat Steir, American, born 1938.  Baltimore Museum of Art



My eyes traverse a broad circle of rising green





Pink Spiral Leap, 1975, oil on canvas. 

Elizabeth Murray, 1940-2007, American.  Baltimore Museum of Art






Rising Green, 1972, oil on canvas.

Lee Krasner, 1908-1984,  American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY




The dog’s frantic behaviour, burrowing into the soil, alerts me:





Dog sculpture, Bodine Street Community Garden, South Philadelphia



And there, rising magically in the warmth of the Spring soil, Persephone:




Persephone Judith Schaecter 2015-1

Persephone, 2015, stained glass, cut, sandblasted, engraved, painted, fired and assembled with copperfoil, 2015. 

Judith Schaechter,  American, born 1961.  On display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 2015.





The Spring Witch, 1883-84, oil on canvas. 

George Wilson,  1848-1890, British.  Delaware Art Museum

This painting refers to Persephone (Prosperine) who, having been kidnapped by Pluto and taken to Hades is released by Jupiter so long as she has eaten nothing while she is in the underworld.  Because she had eaten part of a pomegranate – symbol of marriage – she is required to remain in Hades the three months of winter.

  On the first day of Spring, she returns to the surface of the earth to initiate the growing season with her mother, the goddess, Demeter, who gave agriculture to humans in thanks for the return of her daughter.

The figure is walking through snowdrops whose life she has preserved as she has preserved the life of all organic matter on the earth.



to walk through the snowdrops with their painted upside-down hearts

and the spring snowflakes with their painted nails










as though landing like helicopters on the warming soil 





Snowdrop, Winterthur, February 2017-202





Spring Snowflake, Winterthur, February 2017-2021






Coming down from my steel observatory, the white of the first flowers are reflected like diamonds on the underside





Underside of Flower Observatory and details, 2004, steel.

  Oliafur Eliasson, Danish, born 1967.  Baltimore Museum of Art




Time to dance.  No time to lose.






Spring, c. 1937/38-43, oil on canvas. 

Francis Picabia, 1879-1953, French.  Menil Collection, Houston, on loan in the winter of 2016/7 to MOMA, NY