Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back To The Wild: The Photographs And Writings Of Christopher McCandless

"The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun." ~Christopher McCandless

It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce new information about the forthcoming DVD and book, "Back To The Wild: The Photographs And Writings Of Christopher McCandless". There will be over 300 photographs that Chris took on his odyssey of self-discovery and exploration from 1990-1992.

The official release date for the book and DVD is June 15th, 2011!!

There will be writings from Chris and those who knew and were close to him. All of these materials cohere together to form a portrait of a unique and gifted young man, a man who has touched countless people with his story and life. This book will allow readers to follow in Chris's footsteps as he chronicled his adventures with camera and pen, living life on the cusp of the unknown. You will meet the friends that he met and made, seeing them as he saw them along the open road that he followed so faithfully. 

From the moment I saw Chris's photographs when I visited Walt and Billie in Virginia I was deeply moved...something had to be done with these beautiful images. The world needed to see Chris's vision through is own eyes. I have created and am still working on a body of work surrounding Chris's story and have created paintings based on some of his photographs.

I have an upcoming exhibition of paintings inspired by the life and travels of Christopher McCandless. The exhibition will have its opening reception on June 3rd from 7-10pm. I will also be at the gallery on Saturday, June 4th from 2-4pm for guests who were not able to make the opening reception the night before. I hope to see you there! To see the full selection of available paintings related to Chris's story please visit my website here!

Chris's Pack, Stampede Trail, oil on panel, 24"x36"

An Aesthetic Voyage:
Painting Inspired By The Life And Travels
 Of Christopher McCandless

June 3-18th, 2011

Opening Reception June 3rd, 7-10pm
June 4th, Artist in attendance from 2-4pm 

If you are interested in any of these paintings you can contact the gallery toll-free at 
1-866-844-4481 or at mail@abbozzogallery.com 

"Diary Of A Supertramp (study)", oil on panel, 8"x10"

"To The Sea", oil on canvas, 24"x36"

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."~Henry David Thoreau

I recently visited Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail where Chris spent his final four months in the summer of 1992. I had last visited this special place 2 years previously. Here are a few photographs that I shot while there. 

Most of the windows are smashed now but efforts have been made to 
place cardboard over them, keeping the elements at bay a bit.

The suitcase left in the bus by Chris's parents is still there, 
along with his bible from when he was a child.

I gathered a small bunch of wildflowers and placed them by
the plaque that Walt and Billie had installed years ago.

           Eventually it was time to leave, but it had been wonderful to return for awhile...

Have a beautiful day and I will post more updates soon!!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

"A Special Meal"

"I once had a sparrow alight on my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden,
and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than
I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn" ~Henry David Thoreau

"A Special Meal", oil on panel, 24"x18", was a painting that needed to be completed from the moment I saw the photograph on which it is based. I was in Virginia visiting with Chris McCandless's parents Walt and Billie, and they generously showed me the photographs that Chris took on his two year odyssey from 1990-1992. The vast majority of the photographs were beautiful, informative, poignant. However a handful stood out to me as truly iconic. That man had some seriously wonderful skill with a camera, a carefully composed eye, and I was moved to tears looking through them.

I am fascinated by subtlety, by the hint of movement, by the careful yet spontaneous placement of objects, body language and expressions. This painting clearly shows a deliberation, a method, Chris's plan of laying out this special meal for himself in Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail. He composed the table setting as he composed all of his photographs-with care and planning. When I first saw it I was struck with how happy he must have been to survey this pocket of civility that he had created in such a rough and raw landscape.

A knife that Chris probably acquired from Jan Burres, a friend of his who he met in California is set on a faded napkin. A spoon from his childhood home in Annandale is there as well, along with a fork and various pans and bowls that hunters have left in the bus over the years. A green tin is smoking to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Bug dope and his camera case are situated next to other jars and perhaps some rendered moose fat in a jar. Some berries sit in a bowl, perhaps to be enjoyed as a desert, or perhaps as a condiment for the moose meat in the bowl. There is an undeniable energy here. There is the expectation and the knowledge that he probably enjoyed this meal very much. It echoes back to how despite the most primitive conditions, we often revert to customs and habits and are ingrained within our beings at the deepest level.

This painting has been two years in the making. It has sat in the back of my mind while I worked on my "Newfoundland Portraits" exhibition last year, and it has stayed there while I have completed commissions for clients and other personal work. But at last I was able to begin it while staying for five weeks in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory in May. I wanted to paint it on board because the thickness and texture reminded me of the makeshift table that Chris used. It had a rough, natural quality to it that I liked.

After visiting Bus 142 for a third time, just three weeks ago now, I still look fondly at objects in this painting that remain in the bus. I do hope they remain there for visitors to see who have come to pay respect to Chris and his journey. I have now completed about 13 paintings based on Chris's photos and experiences. If you wish to see the other paintings I have completed about Chris click on the numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,.  Although I never met him, I am able to try to see through his eyes as I paint the landscapes and moments that he deemed special, that means something to him. It is important to not rush past places of beauty, but to really see them for what they are. I paint to understand, to examine, and to become familiar with things that compel me to put brush to canvas. Whether it be the human form, the curve of a hillside, or eating utensils, it is what they represent that is alluring. For they then cease to be just an object and instead become what energy and memory we attach to them.

I will be posting new information soon on this blog and my other blog, Heather's Paintings and Musings about an upcoming DVD and Book of Christopher's photos and writings. Anyone who has been moved and/or affected by the life of this extraordinary young man should see/read them!

If you wish to find out more about Chris, his life, and the Memorial Fund created in his name to help needy children please visit: 

Christopher McCandless Info 
Chris's Purpose

"You shall above all things be glad and young.
 For if you're young, whatever life you wear it will become you;
 and if you are glad whatever's living will yourself become." ~e.e. cummings