This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

February 17th, 2003

Another Facet

I'm always amazed at the number of facets to fly fishing. Having been around other 'sports' over the years, none have the number or variety of areas to explore. I'm not even talking about the historical side, which makers, anglers or tiers developed what at which time either.

There are thousands of books about every part of fly fishing you can imagine. I was told by a publisher some time ago that fly fishing books come in right behind cookbooks in number of books published and sold. If one is a serious collector you could find yourself buried in books!

How about creels and nets? Many books on these too - but here the collector comes in, and it can be a serious hobby or avocation itself.

And rod collecting? Reels? Flies? A person can go in a number of directions on all of those, from collecting early flies to a collection of one specific tier. Or fiberglass, cane or even the old telescopic fly rods. Something for everyone.

There seems to be an area left out however.

And this has always been a surprising thing to me. As a former watercolorist, the challenges of painting fly-fishing in all it's forms is a fascinating challenge. There have been very few 'historic' painters of fly fishing. The one who is, is most known for his maritime paintings, Winslow Homer. Besides being a fly angler himself, he was also a hunter and painted many wonderful hunting scenes. . .but most of his fishing paintings have been in private collections are not often seen by the public.

If you live in either the San Francisco, California or Fort Worth, Texas areas you have the opportunity for a rare treat. The Amon Carter Museum working with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco put together a wonderful exhibit of painting in private collections to be seen only at these two museums. The exhibit, Casting a Spell: Winslow Homer, Artist and Angler is currently being shown in San Francisco. It opens at the Amon Carter Museum April 12, 2003 and runs through June 22, 2003.

Fishing The Falls Quoting the announcement from the Amon Carter Museum about this exhibit, "Homer's fishing pictures are immensely varied and span his entire career. It was fishing that took Homer to the many different locales with which his name is now associated. His favorite fishing venues were found in the Adirondacks in Northern New York State, in Florida, and in the Canadian Province of Quebec. Each of these distinctive regions elicited unique and strong reactions from the painter, taking form in works that are brilliant studies of light, atmosphere, and the spirit of place. He worked in the traveler's medium of watercolor, stretching it ever more boldly and unconventionally in order to convey the intensity of his experience of nature and his feeling for the physical and psychological demands of his favorite sport."

The painting shown above may not be part of the exhibit, but I am sure there will be others representing fly fishing in the Adirondacks. Admission to "Casting a Spell: Winslow Homer, Artist and Angler" is free. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue (240 pages, 184 illustrations, 123 in color) with essays by Patricia Junker, Sarah Burns, Paul Schullery, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., David Tatham and William H. Gerdts. It is published by the Amon Carter Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and is distributed by Thames & Hudson. The price is $45 for the hardcover and $24.95 for the softcover.

If you have the chance don't miss this exhibit - it is a once-in-a-life-time chance.

We do have a very fine contemporary artist, Chet Reneson, whose work has a bit of the flavor of Homer, especially if you compare his work to Homer's paintings of the Bahamas in the late 1890s. We previously reviewed a very fine book, Shadows on the Flats, and if you haven't added it to your book collection I highly recommend it. It just might inspire you.

Al Campbell mentions in his current series on Digital Photography ways of making and preserving photographic memories of the places and people with whom we share our fishing passion. Fine art may not be as personal, but it carries with it a deep connection to those special places and times in our own lives.

Art is another aspect of fly fishing which does deserve a place in our lives - and homes. ~ The LadyFisher

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