Thinking of Summer


Panfish #1 by Anthony Naples

In the bleak midwinter with thoughts of more coming snow, I was inspired by a photo from this past summer.   Many of us start our fishing lives with sunfish.  Some of us never leave that warm and comfortable place – watching and waiting for a red and white bobber to momentarily disappear.   My childhood is filled with sunfish.  As a fisherman the small pond filled with willing sunfish is my spiritual home.  I picture my grandfather, a WWII veteran sitting in a lawn chair catching sunnies.  What did the Italian winters of  1943 and 1944 feel like to that young kid from Pittsburgh?  Rain and mud, crossing mountains, the disaster of Anzio, the despair and loss, the uncertainty of life.  Did he think of youthful,  warm summers back home? How far away did they seem? He made it through the war, made it home to his local ponds.  Made it home to pass it all on to my father and on to me and so then  on to my children.

The cycle continues.   Days are getting longer, the sun is gradually getting higher in the sky and we are not forsaken.

2 Comments on Thinking of Summer

  1. Anthony,

    Following up from your comment from a couple of posts ago. I don’t think you need to explain why certain art speaks to you. Forgive the analogy, but I think it’s a lot like religion: some people get it, some people don’t. Nobody has to justify their choice of religion, art, poetry, food, etc. to anyone else. I do think a person should be able to explain why they feel the way they do about their preferences, what it might be that beckons them.

    I think it gets a little dicier when defining though: What is art? What is a religion? What is poetry? I’m not sure why that might become a sticking point for me. Hmmmm… I’ll have to think on that.

    You said in your reply to that other comment of mine: “I will say that I too wish that I had some talent in art.” You definitely have some talent. I like all three of the pieces you’ve posted now–and on an iPhone? Wow! I think this sunfish is the best one yet.

    • When I was young and idealistic I used to think a lot about what “Art” is and what it isn’t (not just visual art, but poetry, etc.). I read art criticism books just for fun and even took a class in college called “The Philosophy of Art”. So for a while I thought I knew what I was talking about – I’m out of practice now. I don’t know anybody that likes to talk about it anymore. My wife certainly doesn’t want to hear it.

      What I took away from that class is that art and technical proficiency are not one in the same. The thinking is that the “aesthetic experience” is the essential piece – it is what makes a poem or a painting, or a piece of music art. This particular philosophy of art says that the most successful art creates in the viewer the same “aesthetic experience” as in the creator. The catch is that the best art should not rely on sentimentality. Therein lies the rub when you approach certain subjects. For example, it’s hard for me as a fly-fisherman to view paintings of trout, and flies and fly fishing scenes without bringing a lot of sentimental baggage to that experience. And then as a creator of art, it is easy to rely on this sentimental nature and therefore not create an original, unique or truthful experience – when dealing with certain subjects. This is not to say that a beautifully rendered painting of a trout,or a fishing scene isn’t truly amazing and valuable. It’s just that it may fall more in the realm of craft rather than high-art (as some would define it). Is there anything wrong with being a craftsman and not an “artist”? Absolutely not. I wish that I were one-quarter the craftsman of these guys (and gals) that are painting fly-fishing and fish related pieces. Instead I’ll have to settle for sentiment and bad “art”.

      So I think that, there is much that falls into the realm of art. Some I love and some I don’t. But even in much of the art that I don’t prefer I can still see that essential bit of the “aesthetic-experience” that makes it art.

      So – is there any reason to make these kinds of distinctions between “craft” and “art”. Well in the end probably not. But as you know there are those among us that think about things way too much.

      As far as my latest fly-fishing inspired “art”. I’m having fun making them, and I like them enough to share them. And I hope that others can enjoy them. I have a little ability, but mostly I’m persistent. My works are full of happy accidents and of course I only share the “good” ones. :)

what say you?