Maurice Schmidt

Tree Trimmer (Autumn Palm) - Maurice  Schmidt

Tree Trimmer (Autumn Palm), 1980

Painting oil on linen  
72 x 60 in

"Mercurio is in this tree, though you may not see him at first glance. As he trims off the dead fronds, he becomes at one with the palm tree world, its shelter and collected dust, its whispery sounds as the breeze sifts through its leaves, a sound somewhat like the crinoline in petticoats or ocean waves in the distance. Most of all, it is the dappled sunlight that speaks to the painter. It filters through the brown dun-colored leaves in lines and dots endlessly shifting and flashing as if they were daytime lightening bugs. They land on and filter through Mercurio's straw hat and come to rest on his khaki colored clothes. Yes, Mercurio and his palm tree are one and, by this time, I too had become the friend and admirer of the palm tree. As much as any tree, it changes with the seasons. In spring, it is resplendent, "like an athlete stepping forth to run the race, like a bridegroom stepping forth from his chamber." Thus does David's psalm describe the sunrise. But in the autumn season, the palm wears a dun colored cape, the dusty robe of the wanderer. It takes on the aspect of a stranger rather than the admired native. This trimming of its fronds takes place near the holiday of Succot, the harvest of pilgrimage of the Jewish people, from hence comes our own American Thanksgiving. The fronds make excellent covering for the booths we build during the festival week. This biblical holiday was established immediately upon the Exodus from Egypt when we are reminded to be kind to the stranger "for you were strangers in a strange land." excerpt from the book "Maurice Schmidt, A Life in Art"



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