Homestead 1862 – 2020

Homestead 1862 – 2020
  • Oil on Canvas
  • 24″ x 24″
  • Department of the Interior Museum
  • Washington, DC
2020 Special Giclée Print Offer
Small, image size 10” x 10”, $90
Medium, image size 14” x 14”, $115
Large, image size 22” x 22”, $165
Taxes and shipping cost will be added to the price.
Other print sizes are available. Ask the artist. 

To order, go to the Contact page. Please use e-mail or phone. State the title of the
painting, the size of the desired print and I'll be in touch.
As I type, my self quarantine enters another week. Family and friends 
are hunkered down and tucked in unless they work in the medical field, 
an essential service or life has thrown them a curve ball, like a family 
member dying. A friend wrote that they were told to leave a National Park 
via a bullhorn and sirens about mid-day. A look at closures on the National 
Parks website shows that most of the 473 parks have closed visitors stations 
and have limited hours for the grounds. Steps necessary as the pandemic 
COVID-19 virus wave sweeps around the world. This event shows the 
importance of every choice: buying local, joining buying clubs, single use plastic, 
travel, going paperless...Just as the virus molecule makes it way around the 
world, so our choices effect the future of life on our planet. Sounds dramatic, 
and it is. Many a teacher has told me that “life isn't what you think it is” which, 
of course, gets you thinking about what life is. National Parks are some of the
best places to contemplate that, but we can do it anywhere. I always like to 
think that at times you might use my paintings. 

Homestead National Monument of America in Nebraska, a wonderful place
to visit,  was established in 1936. The Heritage Center and Education building
 hold the stories of folks and the land from which they were displaced and on 
which they settled between 1862 and 1986. The stories are as varied as the landscapes. 
Surviving Native Americans, their communities decimated, were forcibly 
moved to reservations, displaced on their homelands by immigrants hoping 
for a better life for themselves and their families. Many settlers lost everything, 
never receiving patents on the land they worked. 

This  painting illustrates that improvement was often 
accomplished by tilling the deep rooted native plants and planting 
annual crops with shallow root systems. In dry years this made for the infamous 
Dust Bowl. Irrigation, once thought to solve drought issues, has created its own 
set of problems. Creative folks built businesses supplying homesteads with tools 
and equipment to make farming less labor intensive. After WWII, chemical farming
became the standard and farm policy was created, often with special interests in 
mind, encouraging production of certain annual crops and supporting industries. 
These practices are now recognized to have led to a national problem with obesity
and the dissolution of our rural communities.

Kansas Rural Center, The Berry Center and the Land Institute 
in Salina, KS, are working hard on some of agriculture's biggest problems: 
loss of top soil, clean water, dead zones from chemical run-offs, depletion of aquifers, 
restoration of community and re-connecting with the land, its varied life and growing 
food sustainably. The lower right side of the painting is a tribute to the Land Institute. 
The Kernza plant, a perennial grain and with a deep root system is shown opposed to 
wheat and it's root system on the industrial, left side. A young researcher, holding seeds
of life, sits with varied life under, over and around.

Aldo Leopold's oft quoted statement from A Sand County Almanac, is found on the 
prairie trail west of the Homestead Heritage Center. “We abuse land because we see it as a 
commodity  belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, 
we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

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