Review of Intimations of Paradise

Photographs by Christopher Burkett West Wind Arts, $85

From “The Book Reader” Fall/Winter 1999

“One of the best book gifts in any year. The oversized pages carry splendid photographs of the land from every part of America-and each photograph is a life, a consciousness, a meaning that forms itself into arms and legs and beating hearts.

Perfectly natural for Burkett, who spent seven years as a brother in a Christian order and sees art as a continuation by other means of Spirit.

A luxuriant red maple in Kentucky is a busy life of reds and oranges, brassy, colorful, certain. Red oaks and aspen in Utah are spare whites and reds, poetic and graceful, with short, sharp lines. An old sequoia at sunset in California is sturdy, pregnant, carrying life in a basket of radiance, alive to the meaning of light. Sunlight on a canyon in Hawaii: protective, filled with the hard-won pride of accomplishment, green with life, brown with established truths.

Intimations of Paradise. Oh yes. For two months of each year, Burkett and his wife Ruth travel about the country, taking pictures (with an 8X10 inch view camera, no less), and then coming home the next ten months and printing in the darkroom six days a week, fourteen hours a day. It shows.

The color and the clarity are amazing, and the conscious significance throughout is majestic. This man’s soul takes pictures. This man’s art develops them.

Blooming grasses in Connecticut: orange, a vast village of life just beginning its flurry of joy. Desert arroyo and hills in California breathe a naked, contoured mind replete with flowing thoughts. And a simple fallen rock in Utah tilts into a fullness of existence every bit as vibrant as the tall straight trees around it.

Intimations is not just a book. It’s a collection of destinies, and a unified spirit of exaltation.”