The Legend of the Urban Totem Poles by Fred Marinello PDF Print E-mail


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I refuse to create into a coherent Grand Theory Of Art. I choose a very personal approach using what I developed as my own imagery and symbolism.

I am in a digital art show. That’s a long way from my studies of oil, tempera and fresco painting in my youth and 40 odd years as an teaching artist/art educator. I have often been asked, “Why do you make your art?.” I seek answers to fundamental questions about the nature of art, the world and human experience. I then have the need to express these explorations in artistic expressions. These expressions are based on the fundamentals and theories of art, and design, but I refuse to create into a coherent Grand Theory Of Art. I choose a very personal approach using what I had developed as my own imagery and symbolism.

“Art does not render what is visible, art makes visible.” Paul Klee

Exploring my own vision is essential. I am experimental, radical, primitive, spiritual, abstract and truth seeking. I use ideas, feelings, fantasies and the unconscious (dreamed and imagined). I have often thought of my work as that of a Modernist, with a heavy dose of Dada, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism being the main engines driving my visual work.

In his 1891 essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism, Oscar Wilde wrote: "A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist."

I created the image Urban Totem Pole for the Digital Arts Guild exhibition Urban Legends and Country Tales (October - November 2008) from a series of photographs of telephone poles taken in La Jolla, California and two acrylic paintings (0554LAN/04-005) I had done earlier.

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    Telephone Pole Photos

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Earlier Acrylic Paintings

The paintings were merged together and changed with several filters in Photoshop CS for a background layer.

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Merged Painting Images
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Transforming the Telephone Pole Images

The telephone poles photos had their backgrounds removed and various element of the line and poles were selected, textured and colorized. The pole images were then juxtaposed to create the line composition and then merged into a single layer.

The painting background layer and the telephone layers were then merged to create Urban Totem Poles as a 17” x 17” image for the Digital Art Guild show.

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Urban Totem Poles [Final Version]

Now that you know how the image became what it is, it may also be interesting to know the legend behind the vision. Totem poles are like an umbilical cord to the land, it sustains our culture. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe word odoodem - his totem, his kinship group. In the city it is the telephone pole that ties us to others and is an basic part of our contemporary culture. It is the symbol of our bonding with others and our need to be in touch with our group.  Hence, Urban Totem Poles

fred marinello ©

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San Diego to Belgrade by Vladimir Konecni

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