Paintings            GARY BARTEN
Gliding Silently Into a Million Pieces - Ice in the Sun
February 2021
ink, acrylic, and tempera on paper
34" x 48"
A journal, a newspaper in another language, a daily record that we write has long been a tradition that is designed to ensure that our history will not be lost to the future.

An archaeologist unearths the fragments of a broken vessel. These pieces are still large enough to be repositioned together and become the glued together history of the broken vessel. We can see it almost as it was when it had a function in the lives of its maker and her society. Many other fragments from the same archaeological site have been rendered into near dust although they too were once a part of other clay containers and vessels.

Across the arroyo and then within the bounds of a large plateau a cone shaped hill is silhouetted against the distant mountains. It too was at one time a part of a range of mountain-sized giants, but ice and wind, rain and erosion have reduced it to a smaller, simpler form. The stone that once formed the original peak is scattered across the plateau and has been swept away down the arroyo in rainy seasons prior.

Words like those above are only comprehensible to the future if the language they are part of still exists. The utility of the daily news may become part of an archive, but its urgency has faded as the reported facts become remote in time.

Technology has coined a new description for archiving: “cloud” storage is as misleading as it is enterprising. Around the world, buildings crammed wall to wall with computer servers need cooling like that of the upper atmosphere where the clouds form and reform above us. Instead, some other fuel must air-condition these computer servers night and day as they continue to collect data, from our cat videos to our medical charts. These earthbound ‘clouds’ are as fragile as the pottery we dig from the ancient midden.

The funeral home showroom of caskets displays a variety of sumptuous materials build to disguise an ‘eternally’ air-tight chamber. No Boot Hill pine box is featured with these cemetery yachts.

Halfway up the redwood a great horned owl surveys the California wild oak grove and its dark mass of long twisting branches. It leans forward and with one completely silent stroke of its flapping wings glides through the twilight grove and disappears over the edge of the chaparral.

Every moment is actually a million pieces and within time’s vastness everything moves towards its being in a stream of twilight dust motes, earthbound stars in constant motion.
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