Mountain River, Oregon, USA, 2016
Inspired by the west coast of America and the beautiful forests, rivers and mountains of Oregon. In Arcata, California, I called from a phone box the number given to me by a couple, Bill and Barbara of Springfield, Oregon. I’d met this couple in Guatemala, being friends of the legendary Blues Harmonica player Slick, a regular performer at the Circus Bar, Lago Atitlan. I’d said i’d call in on them on my way through Springfield but when Barbara heard I was 18 and had until then been travelling alone by means of hitchihiking, she was in no two minds that she was going to come and get me there and then. She told me to hold fire and travelled a hell of a long way to take me to their place via some of her favourite parts of South Oregon. It was at their house in Springfield, that I met an environmental campaigner and scientist who told me about the incredible Salmon migration in those parts.
On the same trip I heard the song ‘Salmon River’ sung by Cindy Kallet and written by Dean Steven’s, that passionately describes the many human pressures these amazing creatures have to contend with to complete their annual journey upstream to spawn. In some cases this journey is abruptly stopped due large scale engineering and hydrolectric projects, or made ever more difficult by the consistent taming of rivers.
I painted this thinking of the Salmon that bring so much life with them as they travel from the ocean waters upstream and also thinking of the people that fight for their protection such as the Environmentalist I met at Bill and Barbara’s in Oregon. Barbara and the environmentalist have both now sadly passed away, but like the salmon, were ‘givers’ in this world, and nothing but generous in their actions.
This painting is dedicated to Barbara, who came to pick me up one misty March morning in Arcata.
Acrylic on canvas