Aspen Sierra Morning – California Eastern Sierra Oil Painting

Aspen Sierra Morning
(near Bishop, Owens Valley, Eastern Sierras
16 x 20 oil on canvas

Because many of my Sierra/aspen/Owens Valley paintings have gone away to new homes, I decided to finish up another that I began last year, inspired by our Eastern Sierra trip. This painting features a grove of aspens caught in the earliest morning light. And I mean *really* early, when the color is intense and warm. That’s the time when more sensible people are snug in their beds, or enjoying their first cups of coffee in the kitchen, but the plein air painters and photographers are stomping around in the brush, looking for the best compositions and getting tangled up in barbed wire. (Yes, that happened to me in November, and it wasn’t pretty.)

Truck crash update, for those who are interested.
At Flintridge bookstore, seven of my ten paintings have been found, in various states of damage. All framing has been destroyed. Some of the watercolors survived, others will require significant repair, and the other (one of my favorites) was torn down the middle. The only acrylic – painted on a hard panel, came through ok. It will only need a brush off to remove some plaster dust, and a few touch-ups. The other two oil paintings are still buried, no doubt. On the positive side, all of those who were hospitalized have been discharged to their homes, and there were no more deaths. Large trucks have been banned on Angeles Crest Highway, at least temporarily, until legislative action can ban them permanently.

We watched the city council meeting last night via cable TV and were glad to see a good discussion of the options to prevent future calamities. And the council was very thorough in thanking everyone who helped in the aftermath, including those who sent letters of support and ideas. At the council meeting I did not hear an acknowledgment of Girl Scout, Malia Mailes, whose 46 slide powerpoint project outlined the disaster waiting to happen before the crash, and she was not mentioned in the round of hearty back-slapping. Perhaps it’s the fact that her report was horrifically prescient and is/was a source of embarrassment to our council who were unable to use her research to get any action. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that teenagers are usually characterized as feeling “immortal” and behaving as though nothing bad could happen to them. Yet here you have a teen sounding a clarion call and the adults patiently waiting for the state to throw them crumbs.

The burning question, which a member of the public raised at the meeting, was, why did it take so long, with repeated runaway truck “near misses” and finally two deaths to get some action? Clearly, the carefully worded requests for action from our city manager, as politely “by the book” as they may have been, fell on deaf ears with the regional CalTrans director who recently told a reporter he wasn’t going to spend any money on our requests. If our city representatives tolerated a runaround on this issue, which ended in fatalities, how will they respond to future needs? Will they have learned a little assertiveness from the experience? Perhaps the PR firm that they hired to manage the media and interviews on the day of the event can give them some helpful suggestions.

Here’s a helpful suggestion: Malia Mailes for City Council in two years, when she’s 18. She sounds like a go-getter, someone who is passionate, energetic and wants to get things done. We can use more of that around here.


  1. annie
    April 8, 2009

    What a saavy and helpful person that Malia Mailers is! I know that she will continue to be a strong force in the community. I agree that this validates our belief that there are many teenagers who are caring and responsible. It’s so sad that she and the city council could not get Caltrans to act sooner before these injuries and deaths.

    On a happier and healing note come your lovely aspens. I do like the way that you show he light glowing on and through the leaves — as I always do.

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