1980-81: Living alone in the country…

by Alden Cole on April 9, 2016 · 0 comments

“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” – Hans Margolius (12 Sep 1902 – 29 Dec 1984) Aphorismen zur Ethik

YorkBeachfromCapeNeddickWPMy mind was anything but quiet in the fall of 1980 once the gargantuan task of moving Samuel Weiser Inc’s publishing offices from NYC to Cape Neddick, Maine was accomplished. My living arrangements continued to be transitional, causing my emotional states to fluctuate even more radically than during my New York experiences. For the first time in a long time, I had a full-time 9-to-5 (plus) job; and for the first time in my life I was a car owner. Actually it was a small, bright-red Chevy cargo-van – eventually nicknamed the Red Tomato by friend Robert Boardman – which became a surrogate bedroom and studio on wheels for me. During the work-week from mid-October ’80 until early-April ’81, I lived with Donald and Betty Weiser in their winterized rambling Victorian ‘summer cottage’ on a hill in Cape Neddick, overlooking York Beach and the famous Nubble Lighthouse in the distance. The photographs above were taken from the attic room which was my weekly abode during this time, showing an Atlantic that provided anything but quiet waters in which to mirror undistorted my situation.

HousebytheSideoftheRoad3ViewsWPOn Friday nights after work I drove the twenty-five miles north to Dayton, where I continued to sleep in the home of my parents (still trying to go home again, obviously) while spending the daylight hours of my weekends holed up alone in an old cape house on the side of the hill, just a mile up the hill from the folks; known as the Petersen Place, a property that belonged to my dad’s first cousin Emily Elizabeth Cole (21 Nov 1908 – 26 Sep 1990). Emily recognized my solitary plight, took me under her wing and allowed me to use the vacant property which was adjacent to her own rent-free. The quaint old cape had no running water at the time, and was heated by only a huge central chimney with fireplaces in the three surrounding rooms – very romantic, but terribly impractical. Nevertheless I loved the place, even hoped that it would one day be my own. In the spring of ’81 I vacated where I had been staying four-nights-a-week room in the Weiser’s attic, and moved full-time into my rustic retreat. All by myself; I’d lived alone in NYC for much of my time there, but this was the first time I had ever lived alone in the country. I started commuting to Cape Neddick on a daily basis, another first.

Sunshine&Fog@72The tiny cape hovered in the shadow of an enormous pine tree, seen as a mass of foreground darkness in the two photos at left (see also the central photo in the group above to get an idea of the size relationship between this tree and my temporary home). The tree was/is one of the largest pine trees in-girth that I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some big ole pines in my time, trust me! Whenever the wind was up, I would hear that pine singing its unmistakable song – one of the most moving sounds in all the world, which I miss greatly living in the city. I was always praying the roots would hold; those roots that gripped a relatively thin layer of soil on top of solid granite. Granite, granite everywhere; Radon country! That tree stands to this day, a testament to the fortitude of such placement. Anyway, just across the road from my little house on the side of the hill was a thinly-covered outcropping of granite that supported a stand of five oak trees as well as low-growing juniper, with enough patches of grass to provide forage for the Hood family’s cows that roamed there occasionally. The photos above give an idea of the summer beauty of those oaks in both full sunlight and fog.

1981-OaksAcrossTheRoad@72Those wondrous oak trees – sinewy in their annual hibernation as seen at left, and in their still-barren, early-spring garb below – and the stalwart pine just out of view in these photos, became the inspiration and basis for a series of paintings that emerged
1981-OaksAcrossTheRoad-Spring@72during and even after the time period I actually spent living there. In the posting just prior to this, I put together what remains of that series – songs without words – free of the distraction of verbal description. For those interested, all that pertinent
Familiars72information will be included in The Autobiography, for which this is a trial-run; let’s call it a rough first draft.

Another painting that was started that spring of ’81 with a totally different focus, is the one seen below looking through an open door, based on the scene at left, showing my two feline familiars that adopted me temporarily the summer of ’80. The painting is shown in two states: that in which I left it the spring of ’81, as well as the finished state to which I finally brought it in the summer of 2012, while in the midst of working a series of paintings conjured by my youthful Maine experiences.

OpenDoor-1981-2012WPto be continued…

Open Door Policy • oil on canvas-board 24″ x 18, mounted on pine plank 27″ x 19″ • collection of the artist


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