Nothing either black or white, but thinking makes it so
There’s a new exhibit down the road in Damariscotta. “Black & White” is a River Arts exhibit of 117 works in a variety of media by 60+ artists from Freeport to Orono and is on display through February 10th.
It’s the season for black and white, with a landscape stripped down to essentials and the grace notes of color wiped from view. Even the ocean seems a variable palette of greys most of the time. And the sky in its current new moon phase is black velvet punctuated by individual points of light, most noticeably Venus and Mars in a seemingly irreconcilable dance.
So what do the woods tell us; and what can we glean from the shore?
First we notice the architecture of the trees. Snow accents the branches and pine boughs, giving us definition in the absence of color. We follow the white lines of branches – is that even possible? We mark the ocean from the shape of waves and tides revealing sand. And we notice things we hadn’t seen in the full green of summer – stone fences deep in the forest. Tracks in the snow defining passage-making we hadn’t known was taking place: deer, fox and raccoons under our noses.
The interesting thing about the “Black & White” exhibit is that the images become abstracts. It’s sometimes hard to identify what we’re looking at until a line or curve snaps into familiarity. And perhaps that’s why driving on familiar roads after a snowstorm can be so disorienting. Why people have for centuries looked to the stars for navigation through the darkest nights.
Here at Spruce Point Inn when it snows, it’s truly as if someone had thrown a blanket over the lodges and cottages, draping the familiar in a painter’s cloth waiting for the spring to bring on the décor of ferns and flowers.
And that’s why inside we are delighting in the colorful prospects of the new season. Chef turns the black-and-white words of the menus into tasting plates. Landscaping plans become the watercolors on our office walls. When the sun does come out we all look up as the ocean turns to sapphires. The dancing red and gold of the fireplace flames are mesmerizing.
The absence of color beyond the windows sometimes seems fixed on an antique glass photographer’s plate, immobilizing and silencing the world.
But then we remember, as Shakespeare said , “There’s nothing either good or bad [black or white?]; but thinking makes it so.” And we look forward to the tumbling laughter of summer’s hues. They’ll be here before you know it. Just as sun rays light the Midcoast of the dawnland.