Claiming My Mountain   

While traveling on the Chief Joseph Scenic Hwy about 15 miles northwest of
Cody Wyoming in 2016, I was especially engaged by a 6,621 foot tilted stratified
rock formation, (called a hogback, or flatiron, by geologists). When I returned to
my studio and reviewed the images I had recorded of it, I knew I had to do
something with them. Until now, I had not created landscapes during my 50-year
career, but immediately began a series of sketches and paintings using a
personal technique that resulted in “interpretations” of this formation. 

Because I wanted to give titles to my paintings, I attempted to search out the
official name of “my mountain,” but it was nameless, according to Kent Sundell, a
geologist at Casper College in Wyoming. I submitted a naming application to the
U.S. Board on Geographic Names even though it became apparent to me that
there was very little chance for success. The criteria states; “If the intention is to
memorialize a person, she/he needs to be dead for five years.” In addition, “the
name needs to be relevant and sensitive to the region’s residents.” I submitted
the name of the sixth century pope, Saint Gregory, (when translated to French,
would be “Mont Saint-Gregoire”) an oblique reference to me. The transparency of
my request was evident, and promptly rejected.

However, I wanted to reveal the similarity in shape of this particular mountain in
Wyoming to the mountain called Mont Sainte-Victoire in southern France. The
famous French painter Paul Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire about 60
times, and, as a result the mountain is well known in the art world and to most
citizens of France. Its designation as a national monument with a marker on the
main east-west toll road in the south of France is partly attributable to this
obsession of Cezanne’s. 

Recently, I found a quote by the American Georgia O’Keeffe that gives me the
confidence to unofficially name this mountain “Mont Saint Gregoire” (it obviously
rhymes with Mont Sainte-Victoire). O’Keeffe lived many years in New Mexico,
painting flowers, skulls, and what she calls “her mountain” (actually Mount
Pedernal). Her quote: “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told
me if I painted it enough, I could have it.” 

The creation of more than 30 paintings so far may not qualify me for the official
naming privilege. But considering the precedents established by Cezanne and
O’Keeffe, I am assuming a posture giving me “permission” to title some of my
paintings “Mont Saint Gregoire.”

Subsequent permutations of the mark-making evident in the ground and sky
inspired these most recent variations;
Cody A, Dolphin Arcs and December Dolphins became allusions
to the movement of dolphins jumping out and into the ocean.
Corona Del Sol alludes to the solar flares at the edges of our sun.
MANhattan and MANila introduced the suggestion of a city skyline (or are they
stereotypical shapes of MEN?)