The evolution of a symbol and a forest pop-up

At some point I punched, hang a show in the forest, into the notes app on my phone.

This later led me to think about what pictures I would hang in such a place. My Burn Scar series of paintings seemed like a good fit. We are at the three year anniversary of the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire from 2015. This wildfire event was the root of these paintings. Specifically this fire had me thinking at the time, of new ways I would paint the trees around my home.

I would paint them black and there would be lots of stumps.

Of the many photos I took after the fire, many were from four wheeler trips my family and I took through the newly burnt mountains. Of course everything was the same, but different. From up high on switch backing dirt roads we could look across little valleys to the next hills, clearly seeing all the other dirt roads usually hidden by bushy tall trees. Through the tall black trunks left behind, the landscape could be seen. The swells of ground and rock flowed like it always had, but now we knew where it curved.

We weren’t the only people in the woods either. Forest Service crews quickly got to work circling the black trees with red, blue, and white paint lines. Hazard trees were cut and swaths of black stumps took the place of towering pockets of trees. This is where the evolution of how my new trees would look took place. In my way, I cut and sprayed my new trees into my paintings.

So late one recent afternoon, I chose a clump of burnt trees on the edge of our property to hang my backwoods installation. The trees were to come down the next weekend, so now was the time. I carefully hammered nails into the black dead trunks, hung my paintings, stood back and took pictures. It was fun and looked cool, kind of a coming full circle deal.

My series Burn Scar was shown in 2017 at Crossroads Carnegie Art Center in Baker City, Oregon. My statement about the show and detailed pictures of the work are here.