Searching for Bartram’s Wilderness: Studies from the Field

Sept 24 - Oct 16, 2010

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation

Watkinsville Georgia

It’s difficult to find a natural landscape in the South today that resembles the presettlement wilderness described by William Bartram in his famous Travels. It can also be difficult for a contemporary southerner to read the Travels without assuming that Bartram was indulging in hyperbole. Centuries of intensive land use have transformed the South since the 1770s.

Inspired by Bartram’s Travels and my own longstanding desire to see the presettlement South that he described, I embarked on a series of paintings to offer a region-wide vision of the landscape that Bartram would have seen over two hundred years ago. Sixteen of these paintings are included in a new book, Bartram’s Living Legacy, the Travels and the Nature of the South. They, and over fifty others, including several of the paintings on display here, will be exhibited at the Telfair Museum in Savannah from January 28 to May 8, 2011.

In this exhibit I have assembled much of the field work that has been critical in helping me to understand Bartram’s experience. All of these paintings were begun, and most of them finished, in the short amount of time allowed by the passage of the sun or other ephemeral elements. They were painted in beautiful, uncommon, sometimes remote, and often imperiled places that still have the ecological and aesthetic qualities that Bartram observed. In visiting and painting these natural remnant landscapes, I believe I have come as close as possible to actually setting foot in Bartram’s eighteenth century wilderness.

The exhibit will be held in conjunction with a book reading event on September 24th when Phil Willliams reads from The Flower Seeker and Dorinda Dallmeyer from Bartram’s Living Legacy. Philip will display and talk about the paintings on the cover of these two books at the event.

Anthony Shoals, Before Noon

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Broad River, Wilkes County, Georgia
April 30, 2009

Oil on canvas 14 x 18in. (45.72 x 35.56cm)
Private collection

Anthony Shoals, Afternoon

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Broad River, Wilkes County, Georgia
April 30, 2009

Oil on canvas 14 x 18in. (45.72 x 35.56cm)
Private collection

Hopkins Prairie

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Ocala National Forest, Florida
June 26, 2009

Oil on canvas 14 x 18in. (45.72 x 35.56cm)
Private collection

Slough Edge

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Montgomery Island, Arkansas
June 23, 2010

Oil on canvas 18 x 14in. (35.56 x 45.72cm)
Artist's collection

Buzzard Island from Fields Point

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Colleton County, South Carolina
July 28, 2004

Oil on paper 10.5 x 10.5in. (26.67 x 26.67cm)
Private collection

Lake Pontchartrain Marshes

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Fontainebleau State Park, Louisiana
August 26, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Savanna in Early Morning Fog

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Apalachicola National Forest, Florida
May 16, 2001

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

River Willows

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Grand Gulf, Mississippi
August 27, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Artist's collection

Savanna in Morning Light

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Apalachicola National Forest, Florida
May 16, 2001

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

After Fire 1

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Moody Forest, Appling County, Georgia
May 19, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Savanna Edge

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Apalachicola National Forest, Florida
May 31, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Old Field Evening

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Oconee Station, South Carolina
June 11, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

After Fire 2

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Moody Forest, Appling County, Georgia
May 19, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Old Field Morning

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Oconee Station, South Carolina
June 12, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

2 Month Wiregrass

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Moody Forest, Appling County, Georgia
May 19, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Gulf Dunes Study

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Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama
June 17, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Old Beaver Pond

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Greene County, Georgia
March 2008

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Burkes Mountain

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Columbia County, Georgia
May 14, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

John De La Howe Forest

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McCormick County, South Carolina
May 15, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Fern Hammock Springs

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Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest, Florida
June 26, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Paynes Prairie

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Alachua County, Florida
June 27, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Post Oak

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Athens-Clarke County, Georgia
May 19, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Paynes Prairie Bluff

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Alachua County, Florida
June 27, 2009

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Private collection

Flooded Willows

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Montgomery Island, Arkansas
June 22, 2010

Oil on paper 10 x 10in. (25.4 x 25.4cm)
Artist's collection

Sulfur Spring at Stagger Mud Lake

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Ocala National Forest, Florida
October 23, 2009

Oil on paper 8 x 10in. (25.4 x 20.32cm)
Private collection

Edge of a Canebrake

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Georgia
March 2008

Oil on paper 8 x 10in. (25.4 x 20.32cm)
Private collection

Dark Prong Boulders

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Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
June 6, 2006

Oil on paper 6 x 7.5in. (19.05 x 15.24cm)
Private collection

Spring Run (Study)

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Manatee Springs State Park, Florida
May 30, 2010

Oil on paper 6 x 7.5in. (19.05 x 15.24cm)
Private collection

Spring Basin

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Manatee Springs State Park, Florida
May 30, 2010

Oil on paper 6 x 7.5in. (19.05 x 15.24cm)
Artist's collection

Prairie Opening

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Chickasaw Wildlife Management Area, Mississippi
August 28, 2009

Oil on paper 6 x 7.5in. (19.05 x 15.24cm)
Artist's collection

Dark Prong

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Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
June 6, 2006

Oil on paper 6 x 7.5in. (19.05 x 15.24cm)
Private collection