Paintings            GARY BARTEN
Spindle Whorl - winterdetail - Spindle Whorl - winterSpindle Whorl - summerdetail - Spindle Whorl - summerSpindle Whorl - autumndetail - Spindle Whorl - autumnSpindle Whorl Studydetail - Spindle Whorl Study
Spindle Whorl - Terra Gyro
(History Before and After Beckman)
At least three ideas were meant to merge in these paintings. They could be symbolized by the gyroscopic tilt of the earth’s axis, the spindle whorl as a tool that has been found in prehistoric societies as they transitioned into more sedentary patterns of living, and the nave of the wheel, an emptiness and one of Lao Tse's examples from #40 in the Tao Te Ching.

Spiral and Hole

I have chosen to represent the empty wheel hub in some instances in these paintings as the origin of a spiral. How do we read the spiral? Does it move towards its center pulling everything in like a black hole or whirl outwards like the arms of a galaxy? Since the hole and its emptiness represent ‘useful existence’ and perhaps also the door to nonexistence which “makes it work” so useful as well, I can use this emptiness as the origin of the spiraling motion thereby echoing more of the galaxy than the black hole. We don’t know what comes after the black hole nor are we here long enough yet to have a sense of the destination of the outward spinning arms of stars and solar systems, but my instinct right now is to move outward. The compression of the black hole is unimaginable, and the unfinished sweeping outward of the galaxy seems, by contrast, to hold promise in its arc of motion despite its inconclusiveness.

Spindle Whorl

Small, round stones or ceramic discs that are pierced through their centers are often found at sites where prehistoric societies had become agrarian. Along with planting, animal husbandry became a signature practice of these societies, former hunter-gatherers were now harvesting food, spinning thread and weaving cloth. The spindle whorl enables the spinner to work more effectively since the weight of the stone or ceramic disc gives momentum to the spinner’s tool.

Earth Gyro, the Seasons, a Vast Happy Accident

The story goes that in the distant cosmic past an asteroid of considerable heft glanced off our planet creating a permanent tilt. Without that collision the seasons would be static, and our hemispheres would always exist under the same climatic conditions. But as fortune would have it the tilt caused by the collision with the errant traveling asteroid has given our planet the climatic variety that in turn has spawned such a remarkable diversity of living forms across its expanses, north, south, east and west. A seasonal kaleidoscope due to the gyroscopic tilt of our earth in orbit is the defining characteristic which insures the complexity of life here. Our conscious appreciation for the balances of accident, fortune, and the necessities of all species of plants and animals -not just our own food and shelter – needs to be observed and enacted and these paintings might serve to recall this awareness. Since that time when a somehow accidental coincidence became a perpetual ground bass for survival, a grand polyphony has resulted which makes the seasons and life roll on into the ever-varied mystery of our existence.