Hello, Hope: Framing Terry Miura’s “Sonoma Idyll”

Terry Miura‘s “Sonoma Idyll” has been a favorite in the gallery since our Paul Kratter—Terry Miura show last spring. Now with fires raging in the wine country and changing it forever, an already beautiful painting is overlaid with new poignancy. The Oxford Dictionary defines an idyll as “an extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque episode or scene, typically an idealized or unsustainable one.” Italics added. This feels like the right time to post about it, to focus our eyes on what was—but also on what will be again as nature and the human spirit renew themselves.

Terry Miura painting

Terry Miura, “Sonoma Idyll,” 2016. Oil on canvas, 20″ x 36.

Here in the East Bay, after the 1991 Oakland hills fire, we learned that the re-greening begins almost right away. The vital spirit of the world means devastation and despair too are unsustainable. Even now, with the soil still warm from conflagration of old trees, new life is beginning to stir—and will be helped by rains forecast for later this week. And already we’re hearing and reading stories of the forging of community, kindness and charity that is also the product of the heat of such terrible fires. It is this phenomenon that my friend Peter Gavin, his life in limbo after evacuating his Santa Rosa home, testified to on the local public radio station, KQED yesterday. I haven’t heard if his house is still standing. But even if it’s not, as he says in this piece in the Perspective series, sense of home goes unscathed.

Had a hopeful phone conversation Friday night with my dear old friend Stephen who had evacuated to Berkeley as flames approached his home outside the town of Sonoma. The situation had calmed considerably by then, and he was feeling that with the tremendous fire-fighting effort things “had turned a corner.” But when I checked in with him by email on Saturday, he replied with a single heartbreaking line: “Lost our house today.” Today, though, he is back at the work of life, rejoining his community, courageously returning to Sonoma “to put our life back together.” Like the land to which he belongs, he’s wasting no time before beginning renewal.

But above all, these thoughts of hope go out to those whose homes are still in danger—first all dear Jessie, my business manager and gallery director, who is this afternoon headed up to her land and cottage just outside Rutherford where fires are raging within just a quarter mile. Fortunately, there is hope, as ground crews, helped by aerial efforts, are there making a bold stand. It is absolutely beautiful woodland, and the place where Jessie grew up and loves most. The next 24 hours will surely be agonizing, not only for her but nearby friends and relations in similar peril. But for now, hope is alive that the bravery and skill of these extraordinary fire fighters will save her place.

Corner detail.

One happy story this morning: Dan Lienau and Gala Chamberlain of Annex Gallery in Santa Rosa report on friends who had to flee their home but were able to return yesterday. “When they evacuated,” Dan writes, “they had to leave their two large parrots, who they were sure had succumbed to the toxic air and lack of food. With a little help from friends they were able to get in, only to hear ‘Hello’ from under the draped cages.”

Such stories and such trials focus our minds on what matters—the great concern of landscape painters and frame-makers. We realize how much we love the places where we live—not just the houses, but the communities and the land.

This 5-1/4 inch wide carved oak compound frame is an elaborated version of our Compound Mitered Frame No. 16 CV + Cap 16 CV . I designed it (Eric Johnson made it) to mimic the receding, stepped plains Terry depicts, using the simple complementary treatment of carved chamfers and smooth planes. There’s a narrow pale gold slip to give emphasis and definition.

The touch of gold, the massiveness, the choice of beautiful quartersawn white oak, and Eric’s meticulous hand work come together to make the point: This matters. This shall endure. If idylls are not themselves sustainable, we shall sustain them in our hopes.


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