Celebrating A Renaissance in Rockland
Once in a great while we encounter a single piece of art that makes us forget where we are and become completely immersed in the work at hand. Our senses become stunned and we find ourselves rapt in attention as all the mundane minutia of time and place become absent. Such was the case the first time I encountered the marvelous triptych of Portland artist Nathaniel Meyer.
As a small boy, I made my first visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Meandering through the halls, I came upon Salvador Dali’s “Crucifixion.” As a Catholic, somewhere between First Communion and Confirmation, the painting stunned me and to this day the experience is trenchant in my memory. A few years later, I had a similar experience the first time I saw Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm.”
Nathaniel Meyer’s “Triptych” is a provocative, powerful work. A full scale self-portrait in the monumental central panel is bracketed by two separated wing panels. The scale is massive. Meyer presents himself in a most proletarian way — a worker in rumpled jeans and a common blue shirt. His eyes are shut and his attention is apparently engaged in fatigued meditation. An oversize brass buckle cinches his wide leather belt. On his feet we see not work boots, but a pair of worn green Adidas sneakers.
His laborer’s hands are in release, and falling from his grip are pebbles and clods of earth and stone. His entire form is suspended in air floating above clouds, sea and all that is terrestrial. Directly behind him is an island of pines with a vast base of earth and stone that, like Meyer, rises from a dark hole in the sea.