My reaction to art is quite elementary

My reaction to art is quite elementary. When I react to a specific picture, it’s my individual experience that is the driver. “Bull Headed” does not just revive an experience, it completes an experience. The first time that I was in a ‘tug-of-war’ with a bull trout, it took a few excited seconds to realize that a big bully had latched on to a just-hooked small rainbow. It flashed through my mind that the bullie might bite right through the rainbow on to the hook and that I had a beggar’s chance to capture it. No such Luck! After ten tense minutes of running out and reeling in the line, I felt the big bozo finally let go. Gil’s dynamic drawing depicts what I did not see: the preliminary, under-water happening – the vicious, toothed-mouth bull trout converging on the hapless, hooked rainbow. This is not just art presenting reality; it is art extending reality.

Another of Gil’s drawings that relates to my experience is “Neighbors”. In twenty-eight summers at Mitchell Lake, I have been thrilled on three separate occasions to see woodland caribou. And in the last couple of summers, we have been delighted to see a family of river otters swimming across the front of our place. As different from the traveling caribou, these otters appear to be permanent residents. Their headquarters is probably located a short way up the corner creek. What Gil has so artfully done is to place the two groups at a creek in from the lakeshore. They probably eye each other warily at first, but then are quite inclined to share the water supply peacefully – and to be neighbors. The probability of actually coming on to such a scene is slight, but what a pleasant experience to imagine! Again, Gil succeeds in extending reality.

Bill Corbett, Alberta

Author of “Adventures at Mitchell Lake: Retreating and Recharging in Canada’s Wilderness”

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