Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Stories Behind Ann Zahn's Collages...

Our featured solo artist, Ann Zahn, was kind enough to share these beautifully-written stories behind the paintings exhibited in her show, "The Gravitational Pull of Memory". 







Garden Journal XVI
by Ann Zahn, June 2011

The images of specific memories, some special and some recurrent, allow me to make something visible of them.  Some memories seem to recur when brought to mind by a sight, sound or smell; others through recall of a place or person so special as to never forget them.  They come and go and form a backdrop for my life.  I look upon myself as composed of 92% water, pulled back and forth or up and down by the earth, moon, stars, wind and sun – with memories going and coming like waves or currents, creating the gravitational pull of memory.

Water became important as a source for this idea of the force of gravity when I became very aware of being pushed out and pulled in by ocean waves, and it became apparent that unless someone helped me resist the push out, I wasn’t going to get in, due to a weakened arthritic hip. 
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"Garden Journal XVI: Martin's Garden" by Ann Zahn

I use the image of the anchor on every page of the books because it reminds me of both the gravity of being anchored to a specific self, time, and place, and of our dependence on fisherman who are subject to often extreme conditions on the water.  It is big, very black and heavy, sits in front of the Martin Fish Co. across the street from the house my mother built in 1975, and is typical of the anchors on all the aging fishing, clamming and lobster boats that go in and out of the West Ocean City harbor.
 





"Garden Journal XVI: Galapagos Penguins" by Ann Zahn

Although there are many unusual animals on and around the Galapagos Islands, I remember, and drew, the little Penguins, because not only did they stand on the rocks watching us, but swam swiftly around us when we snorkeled in the South Atlantic off one of the islands, definitely a memorable experience.


"Garden Journal XVI: Assateague Ponies" by Ann Zahn


Having spent alot of time on the Northern edge of Assateague Island drawing wild ponies on both etching and lithography plates, I feel familiar with them. They manage to survive on the island across Sinepuxent Bay, situated between the ocean and the bay on a narrow strip of sand.  In learning a little about their lives, I learn about other animals --
not too different in family preferences and territorial behavior -- including myself!


"Garden Journal XVI: The Lily Garden" by Ann Zahn


Lilies and other fragrant flowers, crickets, cicadas, frogs, birds and rabbits, are abundant in my garden and in the neighborhood.  I love both seeing and hearing them.  They are everywhere!





We remember each summer’s crop  of tomatoes, beans, peas, squash and cucumbers, and often try to grow other varieties of vegetables. When we succeed, the taste is always special.  They may look stunted or skinny, but we hope for a better year next time!





“The American Indian Garden”, which the Indians devised as a way to grow corn, beans and squash together, is an admirable way to grow these vegetables and not have to be around all the time.  The corn supports the beans and the squash leaves shade out the weeds, so if it rains occasionally, all is well.  I made the paper from corn leaves which makes me (and others) want to touch it!

"Garden Journal XVI: The Kauai Rooster" by Ann Zahn

“The Kauai Rooster”, large and multicolored, stood before me while we vacationing on a Kauai Island beach.  I held a pencil and linoleum block in hand waiting for a “subject” to appear, and there he was – standing very still and close.  I drew him immediately and, of course, felt a desire to draw him as much as he seemed to want me to draw him. 




“The Great Blue Heron” has sometimes visited our fish pond at home and gotten away with some beautiful fish.  Once he stood completely still and hidden while we were gardening close by.  I didn’t see him until he lifted off with his big wings sweeping the air, and with a fish in his beak.  I now associate Herons with the qualities of both stealth and patience.




“The Bristlecone Pine Trees” live in the White Mountains outside of a town in Owens Valley, Californis called Big Pine.  The high Sierra range is on the Western side of the vallley opposite the mountains where the trees flourish.  They live at 10 to 11,000 feet in a very remote and stark place.  Dry in summer, deep snow in winter, high winds and difficult conditions seem to agree with them as they are the oldest living trees on the planet.  They epitomize the qualiity of endurance.

Our 15 year old Ragdoll cat, whom I call “My Melancholy Cat”, has  earned that title because, although he is not very friendly or cuddily, he expresses a  desire to communicate with me at certain times by waiting until I read in the evening at eye level with his perch at the window.  We rub noses, (his idea) and look soulfully at each other, sharing both love and memories.

"Garden Journal XVI: The Gardener's Garden" by Ann Zahn

The last image in this series is “The Sunflower”s Garden”.  One day, two years ago, when we arrived at the beach after planting a vegetable garden in an abandoned baby pool, I was astonished to see a huge Sunflower dominating all of the vegetable plants.  The beans and tomatoes were clinging to it and everything else scattered at it’s feet.  A bird probably planted it, and ever since, I’ve planted Sunflower seeds in the middle of a round vegetable bed – and am always surprised – which seems to be a determining factor in both life and art – whatever the medium of expression.






Come visit these and other works at The Art League Gallery's exhibit, "The Gravitational Pull of Memory" by Ann Zahn!

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