Call of the Wild

Artist answers the ‘Call of the Wild’

by James M. Abraham
The Sun Book Columnist

Call of the Wild

Surrealists are the novelists of the art world. Just as novelists bend and stretch human capacities and instincts to suit their plots, so do surrealists make fungible the standard limits of our corporal reality to suit mood and message.

Parks Reece, in “Call of the Wild,” ($35, Riverbend Publishing) brings surrealism to a world too often lacking in revealed art, the cosmology of blood sports and the sharper edge of nature.

Imagine a stream where rainbow trout grow as big as houses, or a shack in the mountains where alcohol from the heavens is poured nonstop. That’s a man’s (and tough woman’s) world, one far removed [sic] the coffee table or the salon.

Yet it’s a testament to Reece’s humor, heart and artistic skills that “Call of the Wild” fits equally well in both worlds. Or, better yet, that both those worlds fit in Reece’s variegated shape-shifting universe. There bears call the shots, chasing putative fly fishermen from the streams and taking over. It’s a place where eagles pluck Volkswagens from roads, or shaggy beasts think sublime thoughts.

Reece captures that extreme dichotomy of natural death and beauty, where the brutality of a flash flood gives way to a rainbow. The artist paints his world of the Big Sky country in hues ranging from the most pacific pastels to the grimiest grays.

“I am inspired by the notion of infinite possibilities and am utterly and passionately curious about wildlife and wild places (literally and figuratively),” he writes. “It is fair to say that my art is about these possibilities and this curiosity. Laughter is also high on my list of life’s priorities, so it stands to reason that fun is a central element in most of my pictures. I’ve been accused of using humor, wit and social satire in the commission of fine art, and there is no doubt that I stand guilty as charged.”

Reece fills in the interstices between that world and this with excellent essays and poems by a host of hunting partners and other associates, including Punta Gorda native Michael Haymans. The local lawyer writes about Florida’s unofficial mascot, the alligator. In staggered lines of coiled sardonic humor, he warns the unaware of the genial beast’s predilection for blood.

Therein is the attraction of Reece’s work. Divorced from the messy tasks of killing, gutting and dressing our meat, we still have an atavistic understanding of the original blood sport. Some shy from blood, others don’t, but we all react to our elemental past. Reece understands that memory and speaks to it in his volume.

He knows nature is beautiful but he’s smart enough to respect the wild.