Bali Ha’I, 2008 Oil on linen 32 × 70 inches
Bali Ha’I, 2008
Oil on linen 32 × 70 inches

This is from a scene in one of the David Attenborough nature series, of Humpback whales in the southern oceans of the Antarctic, who "fish" there for krill, a shrimp-like crustacean that exists in abundance, and the many birds all the other wildlife that this incredible event attracts. So many of the whales somehow know to go to this area, and work together to form net-like rings of bubbles that gather the krill in the center in which they come up the middle of to feast. I had wanted to do a painting of a real utopia, but was thinking of creating a painting of Bal’I Ha’I, from the film music South Pacific, of a mysterious island of paradise, and realized that real utopias do exist on Earth. Whales are such mysterious creatures that we still don’t know much about (although I’m a firm believer that they are sentient creatures that have a high degree of sophistication and would communicate with us more if they could), and scenes like this for me reach the sublime of nature, that we don’t know so much about this world and all of whom we share it with, and we are such narcissistic creatures we forget we are small part of the cosmology of living things in our world and our universe. I placed this work in a heavenly realm on the Last Judgment wall as I feel it truly is a heaven—perhaps we become reincarnated as whales or dolphins when we pass—maybe those who are doomed are the krill! But in all seriousness, heaven is on earth, beauty is everywhere on our planet, and I hope that we can survive as a species cultivating life on our planet instead of destroying it, getting smart about how to be our Earth’s caretaker for all those who benefit from it, most of all ourselves and future generations who rely on what we do now for their future—for us and all of our mother earth’s inhabitants. I hope like my other works this breaks into an abstraction, specifically allegorical for this one as we are like the fish in the sea—there are many of us and we need to cohabite with one another, respecting each other and our differences, and be together in our lives on our globe in order fur us to survive positively into the future. I do believe that art can change things for the better, and in my old age I would rather paint utopias than dystopias, as I want to live in the place I’m rendering to be in that meditation of my moments, in order to create works that will hopefully inspire others in their ponderings while looking at it—I think if we can all agree we need whales to be alive and roam free in our waters, along with other animals endangered or not to be alive on our planet, then that starts the even bigger conversation how we can do this all together in a karmic spirit of community and cooperation, commiseration of empathy and compassion for all.