In the wildest part of Little St. Simons Island, in the domain of rattlesnakes and oystercatchers, there is a view from a high dune that is unimaginable on the developed islands of the East Coast. Here at the southern edge of the Altamaha River delta, no sign of human endeavor can be seen, only sweeping views across marshes and tidal creeks, miles of shrublands and forests, and a wide, empty beach beside a limitless sea. For an artist under the spell of nature’s design, it is intoxicating.*
While so much of the southeastern seaboard has been transformed by rampant development it seems miraculous that such an experience can still be had. For this, we can partly thank the northern industrialists who bought and preserved many southeastern barrier islands as private retreats in the early twentieth century, a history of conservation that to this day has kept the bulldozers away. Of all the islands that enjoy this legacy, Little St. Simons Island on the coast of Georgia is one of the most pristine.
In April 2011, while my exhibit The Southern Frontier: Landscapes Inspired by Bartram’s Travels, was on view at the Telfair Museums in Savannah, I was invited to paint the natural environments of Little St. Simons – a natural fit as I continue to explore the presettlement south. The 52 works in this exhibit and book depict a wide variety of the Island’s natural landscapes. Through them I aim to share my passion for experiencing these gorgeous, fascinating environments, while at the same time underscoring the natural processes that formed them, the history that sustains them, and how they will continue to change into the future. It is in short, a portrait of the dynamic natural environments of the island.
*excerpt from the exhibit book
Publication: hardcover, 128 pages, 88 color images. Contributors include Wendy Paulson, Kevin Grogan, Dorinda Dallmeyer, Janice Simon, and Philip Juras. Available March 2016 from the University of Georgia Press.
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