Since my first visit to the Eastern Sierras in 1992, I've been in love. From the hamlet of Bridgeport in the north to the town of Big Pine in the south, and Devil's Postpile in the west and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the east, the varied landscapes exude a timeless serenity that I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else. I find a spirituality here that beckons to me on a regular basis.
The landscape may seem bleak to some, and certainly it is a hard place for all lifeforms to thrive. Some areas experience below zero temperatures in winter, triple digits in the summer, and very little rainfall. But like most volcanically active areas on earth, the geology is incredibly varied and the earth is rich in minerals that support uncommon lifeforms at the edge of extremes.
To me this is a place full of nature’s art and architecture. The subtle colors of the chaparral and scrub lands are the earthly tones of the Old Masters, and the massive vistas, alpine canyons and odd geologic features are more impressive than most man-made structures.
But the Eastern Sierra Escarpment is also a place of struggles won and lost. Scattered all through the area are decaying reminders of mens’ ambition in the form of forgotten settlements and dried up mining operations. Wood structures are bleached and frozen in a cycle that prolongs their demise — metal tools and equipment rust in place and the colors meld with the surrounding earth and flora to become almost indistinguishable from the land itself.
Where man has failed to thrive, the Ancient Bristlecone Forest is a testament to nature’s pertinacity for survival. Among the oldest living beings on earth (the famous Methuselah tree is estimated to be over 4,800-years-old), these trees are subject to the same environmental conditions, making their bark look as weather-beaten as any man made structure — but in fact they have evolved to thrive by only having a small ribbon of living tissue at one time.
These art works are from photographs taken on many trips to the Eastern Sierra Escarpment. The digital treatment of the subjects is a narrowing down of the color palette and detail to flatten the image and direct attention to texture. The warmth achieved by printing on wood enhances the nature of the imagery.