Friday, February 5, 2010

BELZONI SERIES
by John Warren Oakes

Based on Landsat images of the earth, I am selecting and composing
images around Belzoni, Mississippi where the Mississippi and Yazoo
Rivers flood the rectangular and triangular catfish farms, reclaiming
the space and changing the state boundaries of the region. This contrast
of organic river valley forms and the geometry of the small farm ponds
provide unique landscapes that are both real and abstract. The classic
battle of nature versus the creations of humans is the focus of these
paintings. Other images are from the Red River basin where the Red River
forms the border between Texas and Arkansas. The second largest
river basin in the southern Great Plains, it rises in two branches in
the Texas Panhandle and flows east, where it acts as the border between
present-day states of Texas and Oklahoma. It is a short border between
Texas and Arkansas before entering Arkansas, turning south near Fulton,
Arkansas and flowing into Louisiana. The total length of the river is
1,360 miles.

These paintings are watercolors and encaustic on vellum and acrylic on board which were done
in Glastonbury, England and Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2008.

The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions
jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1972,
Landsat satellites have collected information about Earth from space.
This science, known as remote sensing, has matured with the Landsat Program.

Landsat satellites have taken specialized digital photographs of Earth’s
continents and surrounding coastal regions for over three decades,
enabling people to study many aspects of our planet and to evaluate the
dynamic changes caused by both natural processes and human practices.

Paintings of aerial landscapes go back in art history to Altdorfer and
Brueghel. Lee Mullican worked after WWII on images based on his work in
the army as a topographer. More recently, Yvonne Jacquette, Jennifer
Bartlett, Terence R. Osmond, Cath Sheard, Sonja Carr, Grace Tsui Mun
Kam, Alison Mc Gill, and Natalie Czech have done paintings of aerial views.