Announces Current Exhibit of
Fine Art Photography
“A Glorious Excess
From the Artist, John Holliger
As the growing season diminishes, nature creates a vivid palette of colors. Billions of buckeyes and silver milkweed cover the land, extravagant beauty of hope with such a flourishing of seeds preparing to rest in winter and then… spring. Autumn, the season of hope.
I live a wandering life, walking before the sun appears, sauntering the paths of deer, the forgotten roads that have no name and do not appear on any map.
In those places I am stopped in my tracks by a stand of trees, dancing streams, and the tiny fingers beginning to uncurl on the new fern of spring.
In the soft light of dawn, mist and dew touch the sacred.
Sunbear Studio Represents
70 Welshire Court Delaware, Ohio 43015
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 5:00
22 West Main Street
Westerville, Ohio 614-259-3688
The Fish House
No sign out front
Where my Dad and I stopped and
Gazed in wonder during the day.
We came after the pre-dawn chaos of men and boats
Chugging into the darkness,
Of a shallow great lake with more frightening,
Fast-forming storms than any of the other great lakes.
The men drove their boats in that lake,
Fears well hidden
We stood silently, as did the Fish House
Remembering the men and boats
Already on the waters beyond our sight.
The village knew the grey peeling squat building
Flirtatious Hollyhocks beneath small muddy windows
That was the Fish House
And its swaying dock on the river.
Hand hewn timbers
Generations old built to last
For their children’s children.
All that the fathers created with care for their cherished children
Long before dawn
In night’s darkness
Low humming, sputtering diesels
Departed the Fish House
Into the darkness of the River,
Entering the lake beyond the lighthouse
Scattering apart to “their” place on the lake,
As their fathers’ fathers had agreed.
Unrolling their long nets with respectful love
Nets repaired by their fathers’ fathers,
and stories of joy and loss
The schools of fish in those years, so abundant,
Hard to imagine.
The men of old could haul in their nets
Quickly filled with fish.
When the village was closing, going home,
The boats were returning
Smoking diesels rolled a deep wake
To the Fish House.
Now everything changed.
No longer a quiet place of head nods
Hand gestured directives
For departing into the dark waters.
On their return
Deep in the water from the weight of the fish
Chaos reigned in the Fish House
as tasks were barked and hollered
Wise-cracks and guffaws
Pelting laughter and raucous back slaps
As if a dam of pent up testosterone
Had broken free. Hearts were full.
This too was the Fish House.
Beautiful pike, pickerel, perch,
white fish and walleye,
scooped up and tossed by the shovel load
others threw loads of ice
as the fish wiggled and flopped.
My Dad and I loved to enter the Fish House at dusk,
A place of well-ordered chaos and joy
From the father’s fathers.
When the village dentist arrived
With his beaming son,
One booming voice
“Hey Doc, got a beaut set aside for just you, Doc.”
My Dad would set aside his life, day or night,
When the phone rang from a fisherman or dock
Worker to pull a tooth.
To the question, “How much Doc?” He shy smiled
And opened the door, meaning, “I glad you called
And I could help you.”
That same Fish House
Now locked up for years
to generations of men in ordered chaos and joy and loss contented
Flying ice and the beauty of fish now live in our hearts.
copyright 2019 John Holliger
Hidden Until Now
Th earth was once a garden with thousand-year-old trees everywhere we looked. The waters were clear, dancing and freely flowing. The earth lived with natural rhythms and balance among all the creatures, long before the humans appeared.
We must have looked very odd to the trees, the creatures, the waters.
Those humans who listened, learned, and lived the ancient natural rhythm of the earth, taking just enough, and giving back to the earth their gratitude and kindness, those humans are now the rare ones, who are invisible and different, just as the remnants of the garden, the ancient trees, and dancing waters continue to flourish, often hidden and unseen, along paths made by deer and moose.
I live a wandering life, waking before the Sun appears, sauntering the paths of deer, the forgotten roads that have no name and do not appear on any map.
In these places I am stopped in my tracks by a glimpse of that garden, a stand of ancient trees, dancing streams, and flora as tiny as the little fingers not yet unfolded on the new fern of spring. seen in the soft light of dawn when dew and mist touch the sacred.
John Holliger ©2019
Edison’s glowing filament,
The ancients spoke of uncreated light.
In my younger, literal years,
My either/or, all-or-nothing left brain wanted
Easy, obvious steps.
A favorite cliché was,
That’s a “no brainer.”
As a protective defense,
Imaginative voice was in hiding
In fear of being heard and my essence scorned.
I was repulsed by the gibberish language of mystery,
Inexplicable Metaphors, and
Fresh images which pained my ordered mind,
My reptilian, unconscious mind
that walked the same path out and back,
Day by day,
Believed that getting back without being noticed was
a successful day.
Then this rigid manner of living collapsed,
And my voice,
Hidden so deeply for decades
Began a long journey,
One with no map.
Finding myself in a cul-de-sac
I didn’t know I had wanted to find all along,
Turned me toward a Light, Uncreated by me or any other,
Inviting me to make a new path to a distant Aura
That Uncreated Light
That shown evenly through icons onto the one
Standing there, gazing back,
Sensed in the forest when alone,
Or at the water’s edge of a Great Lake,
From my wet feet to the other side of that horizon of white mist.
The Ancient Japanese painters knew this white, Uncreated Light,
Separating and Connecting the images of village life on those long scrolls,
Hiding and revealing the odd shaped, narrow mountains
Thrusting into the clouds beyond sight.
Revealed so dependably here and there by morning’s mist,
The midwife to a new way of pondering.
Revealing surprising, captivating visions,
An unspoken word
That says everything.
Uncreated Light comes
From I know not where.
John Holliger ©2019
Turning onto a gravel road
in search of a stand of old growth red spruce,
I crept along for miles
swerving around emerging boulders,
riding the high mounds of eroding streams,
creating their own path across and down the gravel road,
an “unimproved road,” forgotten, neglected,
paths within this path.
Now dropping into unseen depths,
then surging up and out and forward,
skidding across ripples of stone,
Mile following creeping mile,
no map, no signs, many “posted” on trees,
an unknown distance from that first turning
onto this gravel path miles ago.
Into a patch of sunlight,
surrounded by weeds as desiccated as the gravel.
undisturbed by humans,
Unveil unexpected songs, trickles
from springs hidden miles beyond sight upstream.
I pulled off the road and stopped.
I don’t know why, here, but something
Said, “Stop, here,” and I did.
“Get out and listen, look.”
I discovered again that refreshing feeling,
Opening the door
And standing up,
then a few steps.
I remember the joy of walking
And the compressed tolerance of sitting for a season of driving.
Standing and walking,
Crushing stems and snapping branches,
I hear chanting, coming from somewhere near.
A deep voice,
Vocalizing in her own language,
Her contentment and gratitude.
In her mezzo-soprano tones,
She is thanking the Earth’ s spring,
flowing water to the sea,
and her life,
so much like my own.
No maps, no signs, no “posted” signs on trees,
Unknown yet trusted.
Hidden beneath curling branches.
My curiosity was focused,
Longing to see the one who sang.
By moving sideways, crablike
Across wobbly stones,
I came closer to her artful presence.
Dropping beneath branches intent on protecting
Her unseen place,
Her beauty, playfully vocalizing,
A gift of freedom.
She could fall over ancient rocks,
Singing ever-changing melodies of her luscious joy.
These stones were also
Singing their own song, I could not hear,
the protecting branches chanting their song, I could not hear,
My gift was my attentive silence,
For the stones, the moss, the spring, the branches, the water,
A silence that would not disturb the chorus of joy,
in this forgotten place
of gravel and desert.
©John Holliger 2019
Quotations from Along some Rivers, by Robert Adams.
Cottonwoods can seem human—they seem to rejoice and they seem to suffer. But they also seem to know a stillness that we can[t experience.
The example of trees does suggest a harmony for which it seems right to dream. Lakota refer to the cottonwood as the dreaming tree, a place of visions.
Willa Cather wrote in the Song of the Lark, which is set on the Colorado plains, that cottonwoods are “wind-loving trees…whose roots are always seeking water and whose leaves are always talking about it, making the sound of rain.”
Edward Thomas: “Trees and us—imperfect friends.” Cottonwoods have been our friends for a long while. The Arapaho believed, for instance3, that the stars came from cottonwoods, from the glistening sap at the joints of the twigs. The Hidatsa believed that the shade from cottonwoods was healing. Everything about the tree, in fact, struck Native Americans as beneficent.
Minor White’s basic commitment was to a way of life, not to photography per se…
He was basically a contemplative. Everybody knows that, but very few people in photography seem to understand what that really means.
It means that there are more important matters in his life than making pictures, and more important goals in photography, as he understood it, than making good ones.
Photography was not only not necessary to him. It was in fact something of an encumbrance. “Working among esoteric or spiritual lives, you come to the realization that your medium can’t keep up with you, you can go beyond it and a decision has to be made—or you have to keep your eyes open and see what decisions are being made for you.”
In his decision to stay with photography White was not unlike the bodhisattva, who chooses to stay and help his fellow creatures. “I realized that photography was my mouthpiece, this was the way I talked. Photography meant writing about it, editing it, teaching and making it.
It was a service thing now—a totally different attitude.
Only recently have photographers started coming out of the darkroom in any numbers and many of them are still blinking. In his teaching methods, he shows, rather than told, what he had in mind.
“Poets, actors, musicians, artists, unlike photographers, would have no trouble with what he was saying but then that was precisely why he had to keep trying to say it to photographers.
Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject. John Keats, Letter, February 3, 1818
The Many Paths of Life
A Fine Art Exhibit
Imprints on Cotton, Created by John Holliger
“There is no path that goes all the way.” 没有一条路可以走。(Méiyǒu yītiáo lù kěyǐ zǒu.)
Han Shan, a Zen monk (627-649), uttered this simple thought many times in his short life.
David Whyte, from Wales, now living on Bainbridge Island near Seattle carries us along:
“There is no path that goes all the way.
Not that it stops us looking for the full continuation.
The one line in the poem we can start and follow straight to the end.
The fixed belief we can hold facing a stranger
that saves us the trouble of a real conversation…
But still, there is no path that goes all the way,
one conversation leads to another,
One breath to the next until there’s no breath at all…
And then wouldn’t your life have to start all over again
for you to know even a little of who you had been?”
Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) probably never met Han or David,
but here is one of his best-known poems:
Traveler, your footprints
“Caminante, no hay camino, “Traveler, there is no road;
se hace camino al andar. you make your own path as you walk.
Al andar se hace el camino, As you walk, you make your own road,
y al volver la vista atrás and when you look back
se ve la senda que nunca you see the path
se ha de volver a pisar. you will never travel again.
Caminante, no hay camino Traveler, there is no road;
sino estelas en la mar.” only a ship's wake on the sea.”
Most Recently, Parker Palmer, a Philadelphia Quaker (born 1939) looking back many decades noticed how confused and lost he was in his 20’s. In his 30’s one mentor came into his life for a while, then moved on once. Parker had learned what his mentor had to give him.
Another mentor appeared and ask him different questions but so right in that moment. Again this mentor deepened Parker’s sense of who he was becoming. With this new clarity the mentor invited Parker into a new direction, a new path. One after another they arrived and left. And then there were no more. He realized his leading was to become a mentor for other young men who were as lost and confused as he had been.
David Whyte gives us the pivotal question. Where do I start?
The ground you know,
The pale ground
Beneath your feet…
Start with the first
You don’t want to take.
Don’t take the second step
Or the third,
Start with the first thing
The step you don’t want to take”
Our paths, like mentors, can guide us so far, and then disappear.
Santiago by David Whyte
“The road seen,
then not seen,
the hillside hiding
the way you should take…”
You will be drawn to one work of art in this exhibit.
What path or memory is evoked as you contemplate this work?
How they do change over a lifetime
and yet so deep within
our fascinations are us.
My fascinations with the tiny
Have led me into new worlds of beauty and wonder.
And languages I did not know;
Palmer Amarantha, Nutledge, Basidiolichen,
My First Fascination
A child’s bare feet walking on the wet sand
I scan through this clear water for a Lucky Stone,
Floating and rolling along at my feet,
Ancient, ageless remnants of the ear bone of the white fish,
A stone of remembrance of another life of Erie,
Inscribed with a large “L.”
Reaching over to catch this floating wonder
I become connected to the ancient life that lived and lives
I enter a body of life
Far larger and other than me
To which, I belong.
Finding two lucky stones in one morning
Brought me such joy and contentment,
I do belong
To the enduring life of this Great Lake.
Looking north across the Lake
her horizon disappears
Dropping out of sight as the Earth curves round
Gifting me with wonder.
Oh, the unseen beauty and mysteries of
This Great Lake,
An extinct word for Iroquoian peoples
Who lived and walked the wet sands
My beginning to a life of fascination,
And all I did was stand still
In the wet sand where moving waters
Were giving up their strength on the sand
Then falling back
Returning to their home,
All I did was stand still
Gazing at the far side of home,
Then turning back
To the here of this wet sand.
Do you long to stand still
on this Earth?
Do you yearn for the wandering,
0f the Lucky Stone?
©2018 John Holliger