1979-1981: Crystal Cave Reflections…

by Alden Cole on February 12, 2016 · 0 comments

Ghostdance10WPCrystal Cave Reflections #1 aka Ghost Dance #10 • liquified oil paints on mat-board 20″ x 40″ • collection of the artist

The Ghost Dance series, seen in its entirety in a previous posting, was the result of two years plus – a Mars cycle – experimenting in abstraction, using liquified oil paints to create surfaces reminiscent of motor-oil pooling iridescently on puddles of water. After the surfaces were totally dry, which could take several weeks or even months, I painted a signature chain of figures onto the various surfaces using a stencil which I had first cut and used while in the high desert of Neveda during the month of October 1978.

GhostdanceOutsideWPGhost Dance #10 above, now framed flat, was originally a triptych with doors folding inward, which looked like the image at left when closed.

Over the next two years I repeatedly used the spiral stencil, as well as numerous other figurative motifs, to relieve the pure abstraction of numerous liquid-like surfaces painted at that time. No matter how beautiful those colorful abstractions were, there was a flatness to them that only the figurative motifs gave life to – a dimension they would not have had otherwise; uniting my love of the human figure with the colorful liquid world that had been created almost by chance, as if by automatic painting.

CCR#23-GD#10WPCrystal Cave Reflections Revisited 2011 • liquified oil paints on cardstock 26″ x 32″ • collection of the artist

So where did the name Crystal Cave Reflections come from? The inspiration was derived from The Crystal Cave, the title of English author Mary Stewart’s mesmerizing novel about the youth of the wizard Merlin, who later became the advisor to King Arthur of Camelot and Roundtable fame. I had been turned on to the novel – thank you Amelia Hartzel – while visiting Santa Fe, NM during June 1978.

CrystalCaveReflection@72dpiCrystal Cave Reflections #11 aka Ghost Dance #4 • liquified oil paint on non-corrugated cardboard 40″ x 32″ • collection of the artist

The young Merlin, as part of his clandestine apprenticeship with a reclusive teacher, was required to spend a certain amount of time during each visit in a relaxed, meditative state inside a natural rock formation that resembled, in Stewart’s description, the inside of a hollow, crystal-lined geode, large enough for a small person or child to crawl into. Designed to awaken Merlin’s abilities as seer and visionary, the novel’s descriptive passages were rich, evoking vivid images that later found expression in the reworked abstract pieces that manifested one, two, and three years later. This series honors the four fine novels by Mary Stewart (17 Sep 1916 – 9 May 2014) that comprise one of the more satisfying retellings of the Arthurian legends detailing the perennial Quest for the elusive Grail.

CCR#9-Pre-PostDamageWP1980: Jumpin’ Jack Flash #2 • liquified oil paints on gold-foil-coated cardboard 30″ x 18″ • collection of the artist • seen in two versions: left, before extensive damage years ago; right, as it exists today.

SwimmingWP1980: Crystal Cave Reflections #8 aka Rorschach: Swimming • liquified oil paints on gold-foiled cardboard ca. 30″ x 36″ • collection of Robin Hubbs

CrystalCaveBlackWPCrystal Cave Reflections #16 aka Swimming in GreenWorld • liquified oil paints on silver-foil cardboard 31″ x 23″ • collection of the artist. Drastically altered as an advertising poster to promote a theater production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for a DaVinci/Lantern Theater collaboration several years ago.

1980-TheDiver@72dpi1979-1981: Crystal Cave Reflections #13: The Diver • liquified oil paints on paper, cut and collaged quilt-like on matboard 40″ x 32″ then over-painted with the diving figure based on a tourism-ad photograph published in a NY Times double-spread ca. 1977 • collection of Jules ??

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