An Autobiographical Introspection
Author: Ted Merritt
Category: Biography & Autobiography
This small book has three strands. First, it is about escaping from the workaday world. Second, it is about using art and to some extent music to escape; and it is about Block Island, Rhode Island, which is a popular tourist escape destination. Block Island, referred to by some as one of the five most beautiful places in the world, is an outdoor paradise well worth a visit. With a setting fifteen miles due south from Rhode Island out into the Atlantic Ocean, it offers its entire perimeter of beaches and bluffs to the public as well as its interior greenway walking trails. Approximately 43 percent of the island land is open space. It is therefore no surprise that the island population swells from approximately a thousand in the winter to more than fifteen thousand in the summer. The painting on the cover depicts a double-ender sailboat of the type that Block Islanders used in the 1920s and 1930s. Block Islanders used the double ender to fish and travel back and forth to the mainland. The boat is remembered in the Block Island annual Fourth of July double-ender parade as a small, versatile craft that could sail well in heavy air, be hauled out on the beach for safekeeping at night, and could carry large loads of fish. The hull comes to a point at the bow and again at the stern to split the waves breaking in the front and back. It carried stones from the beach for ballast until they were jettisoned and replaced by a like weight in fish. From twenty-five to forty feet in length, with a crew of two, this was the only mode of transportation to and from the island for many years. The painting reflects an image in my head, and I created it on an eleven-by-fourteen-inch canvas in heavy body acrylic. The robust and almost primitive style of the art is offered to represent the weather-oriented life and nature of early islanders. I often escape from daily life by imagining my hand on the tiller of this boat in a storm. It was with that feeling that I used the paintbrush to cut the unique curves in the painting. In this book I talk of looking into one’s head for escape, satisfaction, and comfort. Most Block Islanders, because of the nature of their isolation, also have learned, in my opinion, to look inward for satisfaction and comfort and to escape. During the past decade, I have come to know Island visitors as a resident, as a water taxi driver in New Harbor, and as an artist in the Spring Street Art Gallery. It appears to me that most people come to the island with visions of escape in their minds. Island visitors and residents, for the most part, have chosen to escape from the mainland—or America, as Islanders describe it—to enjoy a more relaxed life surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Willy-nilly describes life on the island, spontaneous and haphazard! This story is autobiographical with a philosophical flavor. The paintings reproduced in these pages are my interpretation on the escapist theme. The paintings argue that for me becoming an artist was a good way to escape. Singing was another! Singing and painting are two of the ways I have chosen to escape. When painting, I never use a photo or any other document to guide my artistic production. Reaching into my head has turned out to be fun, and writing about escapism has also turned out to be fun! I conclude that it is fun to escape! Perhaps an exploration of what is in your head will result in a new artistic pursuit!