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Colfax

Colfax County depicts one of the many wildfires that burned out of control in New Mexico and surrounding states in the summer of 2005. Its treatment is modeled after that of Thomas Cole's famous painting  "The Oxbow" (View From Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm, 1836).

 

 

 

 

                                             Cofax County  2005, 16 x 20,  oil on board

 

The Oxbow

Thomas Cole  (1801-1848) was trained as an engraver.  During his painting expedition to the Catskill Mountains in NY he produced three paintings which were to begin a new trend--American Landscapes.  Cole's intrest in pholosophy, poetry and litrature influenced his painting and hightened its Romantic spirit.  He painted many alligorical series inspired by the Bible as well as classicalized pastorials and Gothic fantasies.
Thomas Cole was captivated by the power of nature in her wild state.   (Right) Cole depicts the definite separation between the golden, cultivated fields and the raw, blasted power of the natural landscape it is being carved out of.

Thomas Cole, The Oxbow,  1836,  51 x 76",  oil on canvas

In Cole's painting the viewer stands upon firm ground to view the life-sustaining rain; in Cofax County (based on an aerial photograph) there is no firm ground and the smoke billows thick and ominous. We have risen above nature and all though we can never dominate her, we may be in a position to ensure mutual destruction.

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