I'm not really a morning person. What I mean is that sleep is so pleasant that there are few things that will rouse me from slumber and not become the object of my resentment. I never anticipated the fascination I would have with the poetry of the sky or the compositions of clouds. But here I find myself at the crossroads of the scientific, the sublime and sensory. There is something in the vocabulary of vapors that makes me forget the difficulty of pulling myself from the ease of sleep. It isn't hard to embrace rest, it seems rather to hold us.
July 6th, 2014 is when I took the photo for this painting. I was driving with my wife from Billings MT after my sister's wedding. We were on our way to Wyoming to see Devils Tower, a large igneous intrusion, leaving a tower of rock composed of vertical hexagonal columns, some 10 feet wide. My wife knows how enamored I've become with the colors woven into the changes from day to night and night to day. She woke me as we were driving so that I could witness and tell the story of my sight.
I had driven out of Montana for two or three hours before dawn and then been relieved by my wife, who alerted me to the growing spectral intensity. I awoke, from my nap, not disappointed that I was no longer enfolded into an unconscious state, but surprised to behold visions of a world, new and vast and beyond my expectations. The scale of the west dwarfs the everyday. One's visual journey to the horizon is unimpeded by the orogenic uplift. There were shifts in precedent. The soil of my knowledge of sunrises was overturned and tilled into insignificance as I was appeared to by the chromatic chorus I now found.
My lack of expectation proved to be fertile ground for fascination. The occasional car or semi-truck whooshed by, providing a point of reference, something to heighten the perception of the terrible colored wonder I encountered. Here were the products of progress rushing through the expanse of country we call "The West," still imbued with mythology and a rugged mysticism. The highest of human achievements are seen by many as our technological innovations, out cutting edge. But what evidences the fullness of our civilization more, our enthrallment and codependency with machines or our willingness and openness of heart to pair ourselves for a time however short, with a sunrise.
Maybe our highest calling and achievement is in remembering and communion with the primordial. The primitive and the essential and the perennial. Phileo with the fundamental, the foundational. We need to forget ourselves more often.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.