Pacific Portals, Arcane Image
The Columbia Pacific region, a thin place (Celtic) where earth and sky meet and are often indistinguishable, inspires my paintings.

The portal images of many act as doorways into the mysterious oceanic and atmospheric delights which one experiences looking between large rock pillars and other phenomena, such as hole in the wall on the Olympic Peninsula.

These paintings are a result of a search for the magical in nature.  The poetic, arcane image found through observations and the act of painting itself.

Marc Boone, 2016

The Singing Shore:  Marc Boone’s Pacific Portals, Arcane Image
by Richard Speer, 2016
From his studio in Ocean Park, Washington, artist Marc Boone can hear the nearby Pacific’s deep, churning roar.  The ocean—and nature in all its forms—permeates his aesthetic sensibility in ways difficult to overestimate.  Over the course of a long and varied career straddling both coasts of the United States, he has deployed his sumptuous oils and watercolors in idylls on the sylvan hills of Maryland and Maine; the streams and seascapes of the Pacific Northwest; and those other, more difficult-to-pinpoint strata of the globe and psyche that the ancient Celts called “thin places.”  These are the climes where material and ethereal worlds come within millimeters of touching one another, and they are the stuff of myth as much as geography.  One of these places, depicted in Boone’s recent series, Pacific Portals, Arcane Image, is Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park.  There, a massive rock formation called Hole-in-the-Wall dramatically frames the sea and sky in their infinite variations of atmosphere.  The spot is perfectly suited to the artist’s gift for distilling a composition down to its powerful, primordial bones.  Through this portal, this literal and metaphoric peephole, viewers may gaze outward into the firmament or inward into their own consciousness or pivot between the two.

Boone encapsulates this spatial and symbolic phenomenon with remarkable technical elegance.  Evocative passages of brushwork resplend with silver metallic, which gleams like enchanted, late-day light on waves.  Thin washes of color alternate with thick, clay-like putty and dramatic impasto.  Sometimes the layers are so deep, the lines that separate planes appear more incised than drawn, lending pregnant fermatas to an étude of periwinkles and gunmetals, searing whites and judicious swaths of sunset orange.  In his watercolors, Boone often leaves the knife’s-edge of the horizon unpainted, contextualized by clouds and water, allowing the picture’s most important element to float, inferred, in the viewer’s imagination.
Confident and assured, yet never showy, these are the works of a master of chroma and composition who, by talent and good fortune, enjoyed early personal exposure to some of the giants of modern and contemporary art.  During and after his undergraduate and graduate studies in Oregon and Maryland, he was taken under the wing of the iconic Northwest painter Louis Bunce and quickly found himself in New York City being introduced to many of art world’s seminal figures:  Philip Guston, Elaine de Kooning, Salvatore Scarpitta, Edward Dugmore, Clyfford Still, Sam Gilliam, and others among an illustrious roster.  From teachers, mentors, intense observation, an experimental attitude toward materials, and an innate sensitivity to the possibilities of line, he learned to distill an image’s components into an alloy of representation and abstraction so intertwined, so highly developed—to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke’s truism about science—as to approach magic.
For those familiar with his celebrations of water, rock, trees, and light, it will come as no surprise that Boone has communed with and revered the natural world since boyhood, when his grandfather took him fishing in the mountains of Idaho.  To this day his paintings retain that wide-eyed wonder at landscape’s capacity to inspire awe—an awe that comes from a respect, and yes, a healthy fear, of nature’s generative and destructive powers; for in the wind and waters there is beauty and danger in equal measure.  The breeze that fills a ship’s sails can snap its mast on a dime.  Marc Boone’s visual poetry lies within his embrace of that dichotomy:  the serenity that balms us and the melancholy that chills us to the core when we venture alone in the wilds; the majesty and the menace; and above all the privilege, however transitory, of contemplating and appreciating nature.  The drone of the pounding surf near his studio is an “Om” that begins and ends its song in the same place:  a thin place, yet one thick with poignancy.

—Richard Speer is contributing critic for ARTnews, Art, Ltd., Visual Art Source, and Artpulse.  His essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, Salon, Newsweek, and Opera News.  He is the author of Matt Lamb:  The Art of Success (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) and Peter Halley/Alessandro Mendini (Mary Boone Gallery, 2013) and has written monographs, catalogue essays, and profiles of leading historical and contemporary artists including Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dalí, Sam Francis, Sam Gilliam, Eva Hild, Pablo Atchugarry, and Roger Ballen.
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