Like the departure of the calved sections of a glacier into the surrounding ice, a sound disengages itself from the others, and the music stops. Day is done for Daffy Duck and Beethoven. The Kreutzer Sonata echoes through the Germanic trees of suburban Appalachia. Out come the Super Soakers. Works of art collude with the apparition of evening. Laocoon and an opossum glide upon pools of reflected light that gather upon the face of the ponds that in six moons will commingle to form the Happy Valley Ice Rink.
While apparition is the instant of illumination and of being touched by something, recording and preserving it is another trick entirely: turning this timeless moment into an aesthetic instant, which is something that has duration. This is no easy task, like trying to keep a firefly's glow in a bottle without the firefly. Through the long sleeping summer nights Happy Valley is ablaze with submerged dreams of such substitutive creations.
The transcending element in works of art is something momentary. Their entrance into time is always a tight squeeze requiring the shoehorn of an "art experience," which fits them into such and such temporal dimensions. To escape these confines they flee in dreams far beyond the boundary dolmen of Happy Valley.
Works of art flower into images, which create instants out of mere moments. Then again, art is like a soft explosion, as when the hero in the Happy Valley Community Summer Theatrical kills himself with a squirtgun while standing under some tremendously dark and emotive trees, as the sadness of the river landscape in the backdrop announces the arrival of dusk in the valley.
The bodies of the low dense trees cease to stand out from the darkening forest beyond, and once again the world disappears behind its false veil of transcendence. A river flows through the forest to where the land opens out into a delta of green and copper sand.
The long day of Happy Valley closes. There is a sigh from inside nature, as all the durations that have unfurled suddenly begin to fold themselves up, like huge petals closing, almost without making any noise. Yet the forest creatures remain alert.
The Day of God (Mahana na arua): Paul Gauguin, 1894 (Art Institute of Chicago)
A Small Town at Dusk: Aert van der Neer (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest)
Watergun: photo by Nathaniel Paluga, 2009
A Walk at Dusk: Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1830-35 (Getty Center, Los Angeles)
A spray bottle: photo by Hustvedt, 2008
Peasant Girls Bathing by the Sea at Dusk: Edgar Degas, c. 1875-6 (private collection, Northern Ireland)
Deer at Dusk: Franz Marc, 1909 (Lennbachhaus. Munich)