NM Paintings 2023 > Clock Shaped Like a Book with Tree Rings Inside

Clock Shaped Like a Book - Time To
Clock Shaped Like a Book - Time To
ink, acrylic, and tempera on paper
38" x 27"
December 2023

I didn’t always wear a watch, but these days I have taken to strapping one on my wrist even though my mobile device must also always be at the ready to tell me very precisely what time it is. This doesn’t feel at all obsessive to me but rather more like a concession to be in sync with what I’m not exactly sure. And of course, there is always some conflict between the wrist watch, the i-phone, and the occasional civic clock we might pass beneath.

At night, I’ve taken off the watch and except for the dimming light outside pay little notice to the passing of minutes or hours, even. Usually either the dialog of conversation or turning the pages of a book are evening’s markings of time passing. But of course, that waning daylight and the moon’s frequent presence are part of an even longer turning of seasonal evidence as the earth leans it’s northern and southern hemispheres towards and then away from the sun.

How else would the tides, the downhill flow of streams and rivers, the prevailing winds of different seasons allow for change and growth, adding an annual ring to the trees that live alongside us? How else would the temperature, humidity and weather also change and within that the daily path of the sun make possible life sustaining processes like photosynthesis, evaporation and an arroyo-filling rainstorm? The second hand adding minutes to hours to days, years, and lifetimes of seasons all in a kind of pageant becomes the spans of our lives.

There is only so much that we can predict, checking our watches against almost any task or event. Forecasts are only so reliable despite the sophistication of meteorological data we might be measuring. Even with clean air and water, we still need an environment that will provide food and allow for exercise and a sense of well-being. The latter never one of time’s guarantees. The battery powered watch will only be reliable for as long as that battery can power its workings. As strong and resilient as they stand, trees endure constant challenges and cannot move out of the way of disaster. Inside there is another story that is moving in tandem to our clocks, and even our most purposive stride.

What kinds of reassurance really can be measured when we think of the idea of continuity? Time as we observe it is just measurement. Measuring the present is never exact as it tumbles forward. Continuity is a hopeful state, a gift of partial reassurance, but never a guarantee. Who else will be there when we arrive and will they too have just come inside out of the cold rain or have they been waiting, checking their watches?