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AnnaJo Vahle’s painting, Splash Fishing, is a “cool capture,” even though it is not a photograph. The capturing is left to the heron, which does with its head what humans do with fancy fishing tackle. It dives headfirst into the water and goes beneath the flat surface. We see only brilliant colors, not water but paint. The artist cannot go beneath the surface and discover what the heron discovers. All she can do is live off the surface colors, which are fleeting and contradictory, colors which are either signs to the heron or obstructions to the artist.
We cannot see what the heron sees before it dives beneath the surface, because we are not in the picture; we are on the surface and detached from it, like the artist. We can only wonder how the heron can see underneath with so many swirling colors vibrating on the surface. Was the sign a swirl going in a different way, or did the heron actually see a shadow of a fish beneath the surface, the thing in-itself? And, we can only speculate whether it was successful in catching a life-sustaining fish. All we see is the moment of decision, the attack, which splashes away the colors and sends water into the air. We are left without food, without the satisfaction of knowing whether the heron was successful in its quest. This is the essence of painting and of life.
To be sure, this painting won first place at the 16th Annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival 2013, Titusville, Florida.