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Slight Return


24 x 30"

acrylic on canvas

The House of Fine Art, Livingston, MT


Well, I stand up next to a mountain

Chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island

Might even raise just a little sand

'Cause I'm a voodoo child

Lord knows I'm a voodoo child

~Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”

In Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rainforest grows wild with greens and yellows. Light pours through lacy moss and dances upon soft beds of fern. Once again we find ourselves drawing closer to the details of this exotic land. We drive to the coast and find plenty of sea kelp and carrot shaped weeds. Seals ride the waves like black buoys without anchor. We hike out to the bluffs by way of a temporary sand bridge, and look up to see a bald eagle cut across the setting sun. We hike the cliffs, but have to get back before our span of dry land becomes buried beneath the waves. Walking back to the beach, I collect a handful of colorful stones, rubbed smooth from the rolling water.

Washington is our 25th state. We decide to celebrate this momentous halfway point with a “slight return” to normalcy. We booking a studio apartment for the July 4th week, and Alfonso’s parents have booked a flight into Seattle to visit. This is the first time that we will see a familiar face in seven months. Washington’s location forms a direct diagonal from where we initially set off from in Southern Florida. 

While we rejoice in home-cooked meals, daily showers, and laughter with family, our time here is about more than just enjoying the comforts of  “home.” While in this state, we reach the base of Mount St. Helen’s, stand at the farthest North West corner of the continental U.S., and discover deep roots in music history (from Kurt Cobain’s hometown - Aberdeen, to Seattle’s underground jazz scene, where Ray Charles cut his first recordings). With such a collage of experiences, I wonder how I will ever pull it together into one painting. That is, until I stand in front of Jimi Hendrix’ handwritten lyrics for Voodoo Child. 

While visiting Mount Saint Helens, we learn that when the volcano erupted in May of 1980, four hundred miles of elevation were lost off the top of the giant cone. According to national statistics, fifty-seven people were killed, or never found. However, had it not been a Sunday, thousands of forestry workers would have suffered the same fate. After the eruption, darkness covered the entire northwest, as wind deposited ash over the entire globe. After the tragic blast, communities were left to “pick up all the pieces.” The land remains scarred to this day, and with blooms of steam emitting from its new cone, no one wonders if it will erupt again, but when.