The ancient and contemporary Druids celebrate autumn by chanting mythical songs in honor of the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of fall when daylight and nighttime hours are equal. In 2022, it occurred on September 22 at 9:03 pm.
Autumn is nature’s time to show off its mature artistic skills. Spring is full of bright colors like a child’s drawing. Summer is like a youth, still exploring and learning and pretending to be jaded as the months roll by. Fall is grown up and confident, knowing exactly what catches the eye and makes the audience exclaim. It is the time in which the trees transform the green leaves of summer to fiery red, soft luminous yellows and otherworldly rusts and auburns. For painters, ocher is the base of most fall color palettes. It has been discovered to have been used by Homo erectus in Kenya over 285,000 years ago. It is the oldest known pigment to have been used to create art. Over time, umber and sienna, related earth pigments, gave us a gradient in this color spectrum.
We asked artists to participate in our Joy of Autumn celebration by submitting works that convey their personal vision of fall. Although it is impossible to recreate Great Nature’s vision, we have received images which convey the beauty and joy of the season. The artists who have been chosen as winners and runners-up have used fall colors as a base to evoke the warmth, depth and glorious richness of the season.
We chose the work of Teruhisa Tahara for the cover of this issue because it evokes the pure joy of singing birds against an autumnal sky. The choruses of birds can be nature’s way of chanting mythical songs in honor of the autumnal equinox. Tahara explains that in Japan, due to earthquakes, the telephone, electricity and information cables are usually above ground on tall poles. The Japanese swallows who summer in Honshū and Hokkaidō congregate on these cables before they make their way south for the winter. Their voices signal a release from the hottest summer on record.
Karen Gentile captures a peaceful and lovely moment during the transition from summer to Autumn in her painting of stately trees with green and orange leaves next to a burnished brown shed-like structure with a golden doorway. All appears still in her very structurally composed image in which golden sunlight illuminates the foreground and background land, seemingly to capture a moment when the colors of autumn are so vibrant that you know this will not last forever.
In Kathleen Gefell’s work, Autumn has not arrived in full splendor yet. A hint of ochre bleeds through a green expansive landscape like a harbinger of Autumn. A stream cuts through the middle like a path leading to a larger body of water capped off by misty mountains in the distance. The images are not distinct as if the artist is in touch with the spirit of the earth rather than the external details. Her landscape depicts a quiet moment of transition in which Summer has not really gone and Autumn has not yet arrived. As if the earth needs a moment of repose before the glorious colors burst forth.
Alan Gaynor’s still life photograph of a flower that appears to be literally exploding with energetic red tentacles evokes the joyous energy of the color red of Autumn.
A more whimsical approach can be seen in the work of Arlene Finger. Her work of little figures climbing tree trunks and pinning Autumn leaves on trees seems to be telling a story. Are these little figures elves or earth spirits helping Autumn get under way?
Autumn can be bittersweet as we leave summer behind, but it is also a glorious beginning to the winter holidays. It is a time in which the earth speaks to us in a loud “voice.” The works of each of our winners reminds us to “listen.” G&S