A few weeks ago Sigrun Hodne, who writes at the blog Sub Rosa, posted a brief video about the photographer Jeff Wall. You may or may not find Wall’s photography appealing, but maybe you’ll be intrigued by what he says, as I was.
Towards the end of the clip Wall talks about art.
“I think all art is always an expression of the affection for there being a world…
“…that there’s something to see… that anything even exists.”
“It’s already a kind of joyful relation to what is. And then everything else becomes a detail…”
“I think all artists are pretty sympathetic people. They’re sympathetic to being.
And I think that’s why people like art.”
The photographs were made on two afternoons in May, during a trip to the Methow Valley, in north central Washington. Creeks originating from glaciers on some of Washington’s highest peaks drain into the Methow River, which weaves and wends its way through spare, sage green highlands before emptying into the Columbia River, and thence to the Pacific Ocean. The valley is dotted with small towns, and one called Winthrop emphasizes an American West atmosphere enough to resemble a movie set. Along with opportunities to camp, fish, ski, ride horses, and raft the river, the classic western look of Winthrop brings tourists to the area.
Coming in spring, we expected quiet and weren’t disappointed. We stayed outside the town of Twisp at a small farm whose owners work in retail and real estate while caring for a handful of horses and chickens and running an airbnb side business. A patchwork economy works best in the valley, as in so many rural areas. From the riverside we drove high up into the lonely, sere hills, where fires have their way with dry forest land and the views leap across space, and free the soul. The cheerful golden Balsamroot flowers that sprinkle the hillsides with color every spring were fading but no matter – my affection for the world was still an unhesitatingly joyful relation to what is, right there, in that particular place, at that particular time.
- 1. Fire-ravaged juniper tree, Thompson Road, Methow Valley
- 2. Fallen trees and Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) leaves, Gun Ranch Road, Methow Valley
- 3. Shriveled Balsamroot flower, Thomson Ridge, Methow Valley
- 4. Lichen on rock, Thompson Ridge, Methow Valley
- 5. Single boulder in an Aspen grove, Thompson Ridge, Methow Valley
- 6. Fire-ravaged junipers and dry grasses, Thompson Ridge, Methow Valley
- 7. Lichen-splotched boulder, Thompson Ridge, Methow Valley
- 8. Insect on fading Balsamroot flower, Thompson Ridge, Methow Valley
A few more photos from the Methow Valley are here.