Lightly leaning toward the viewer, a group of dories rests on the sand, awaiting the day's work.
These dories are not part of a living still life, an artistic array of wooden boats set up almost as a museum exhibit. These dories are very much used throughout the day and throughout the year in Port Townsend, WA, which hosts active working dock and harbor.
Once a year, during the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, the town is filled with a surge of visitors to attend the several-day event and view the many wooden boats that show up in the harbor to display their glory. But the rest of the year, the harbor is still busy, and the dories do their part in getting people to and from the larger ships, docked away from shore.
Dory Beach invites the viewer to step onto the beach on a quiet, sunny day, to come alongside the man by the yellow craft, to smile at the children playing in the sand. There is a peaceful busyness here that feels right and good, a busyness that is not stressful and loud, but purposeful, dynamic, and fun.
Like many representational paintings, Dory Beach encourages the viewer to stop what she or he is hurrying to do, to set aside the worries that perplex the mind, and simply view the image in the painting. Stepping away from the stresses of daily life is crucial to surviving that daily life, and one of the things that representational art does best is ease the viewer onto the journey.
Who are the people by the boats? Are the people on the water catching anything? What is the game that the children are playing? These questions, lightly thought as one’s eye views the paintings, are not unimportant ones, because they remind us that life is going on everywhere, in many different ways.
Perhaps the issues that we are focusing on so heavily are worth taking a break from. And by the time we get back, we’ll do so with a new perspective.
June 1st, 2017
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