Thursday, May 16, 2013

"The Art of -" A Personal Remembrance of a Gifted Artist...

The normal pursuit that I actuate in my blogs is to write about such issues as music; or, paintings; or, architecture etc.
However, do please allow this writer to project to you another example of Man's art by way of a  personal experience; to be precise, the Totem Pole.
During my childhood years, my father would arrange to have the family spend each August in the Adirondack  Mountains, which happens to be the largest state park in the United States. Through my elementary and high school years, the family would reside in a hamlet named Old Forge, located in the southwestern section of Adirondack State Park, and from that little town, over the years, we attained a considerable knowledge of this vast, wonderfully beautiful wilderness.
One of the residents of Old Forge was a Native American, whom I met early on as a child, when Maurice Dennis (his name) was the official lifeguard of Old Forge Pond.
His biceps and striking  musculature were the first items I remember about this young, bronzed God, who at the same time was a totally affable fellow with a great affinity to laugh and to guide and teach the young boys who gravitated around him, especially when we met each day to learn how to swim - yes, he took the time out, while his assistant did the lifeguarding, to give us swimming lessons Monday through Friday of each week. Amazingly, almost all his students, including me, became accomplished swimmers.
Among other activities he engendered was to teach how to correctly and safely handle a canoe, and with some of us , as a personal aside he obviously loved doing, taught us how to use a lemon wood bow. He had us learn from the bow he fashioned with his own hands.   I distinctly  remember my shooting at an archery target that was positioned across a narrow portion of the pond.
With all of the above, the most impressive aspect of this hero of my young years was his artistic propensities, especially when it came to his carvings, the most singular object of his work being the Totem Pole, for which, in his later years, he became well-known in the Northeast and in Maritime Canada.
To this day I do not know whether the stories he carved into each totem pole were his own, or traditional stories of his tribe; namely, the Abenaki, who lived and still live, I believe, in both northeastern America and maritime Canada. Maurice was, at a particular time in his life, made a Chief {I suspect that the title was a form of honorary recognition), and he  was generally known as "Chief Dennis" from that time on.
Above all of the memories I hold of Maurice Dennis was his striking totem poles, some of which remain scattered here and there throughout the region.
Man's Art - how many faces??



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