By Chuck Forsman
Concerning the booklet: work via Chuck Forman. Essays and Poems via Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Roger C. Echo-Hawk, Gary Holthaus and Charles Wilkinson. Chuck Forman is a generally exhibited panorama painter and has been adressing environmental concerns because the overdue Seventies.
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Floundering in a world defined by these two unsatisfactory perspectives, viewers can find some comfort and consolation in Forsman's varying foreground subject matter and point of view. In "Ants," the foreground belongs to an anthill, the point of view to the ants; in "Lizard," the foreground is the property of a lizard. There are indeed other perspectives, other units of perception, than those framed by the human eye and mind. Chuck remarks that he is inclined to think in geological terms. Dams, in that framework, become temporary obstructions to rivers that have, over geological time, carved deep channels through rock.
My wound festered in guilt. I survived college and Vietnam in the late sixties to become a painter and art teacher. A decade later I began painting landscapes of the West. It happened naturally, possibly inevitably, but those were uneasy paintings, full of conflicting impulses, and they continue to be so to this day. I have come to believe that the long tradition of celebration and optimism in landscape painting is on shaky ground. To look honestly at the world around us is a sobering activity.
My old ability to take things for granted returns, at first, to neutralize the artist's campaign to unsettle. But the artist is, finally, not that easy to defeat, even for someone whose eye was trained in southern California in the 1950s. Forsman's dams declare their presence, and their power, much more forcefully than did the dams of my childhood. The presence of the Indian figures makes a clear statement that a dam is not simply the loss of a geographical site, it is also a loss to living people who value the site.
Arrested rivers by Chuck Forsman