Friday, May 1, 2009

The Keeper ~ A Leaf, A Shoe

I took the challenge of viewing "The Keeper" from a mere photo on the internet. It's much more compelling in person. John Buck carved each of the elements you see from jelutong wood. Starting on the left is a ethereal leaf, almost as if it could be fluttering as the dragonfly rests momentarily on what seems like a lid. Behind that is the outline of what appears to be an incised globe, perhaps the earth. All of this seems to be held up by a mannequin in a seated position. Visual symbols that independently may seem disconnected but as you let your mind go, you can perhaps feel how ephemeral our lives are and why John Buck may have wanted to preserve them. And what better way than in a glass jar, still visible but shielded.

Oh yes, there's an outline of a shoe there; perhaps I can see it because I know it's there from a previous visit to see "The Keeper" in person. But a shoe nonetheless and in this photo you see a front view of its high heeled style. The Portland Art Museum owns two other larger pieces, including "The Hawk and the Dove", shown below. Look carefully and you'll find some of the same elements of "The Keeper" repeated in "...The Dove". And for an even more intense visual experience you could head to Lewis and Clark College here in Portland where 18 foot bronze versions of these two other pieces are on permanent display.

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