9. The Conductor

The Conductor, oil pastels on paper, 2007

The Conductor, oil pastels on paper, 2007

No matter how hard our techno-logical society tries to banish (or at least diminish the power of) myths, our nature as human beings prevents it.  We are storytellers, and modern mythology lives in our collective consciousness to help us bridge between the known and the unknown.

I was captivated reading Stephen Kotler’s book West of Jesus about the modern, surfer-borne myth of “The Conductor”, a supernatural being capable of creating weather, wind and waves by waving a human bone above his head.  The existence of  the Conductor is a moot point.  That surfers (and I) feel drawn to this modern myth speaks volumes about our need to navigate the bridge into that part of the real world that remains unknown to us.

I traveled to an “Ends of the Earth” several years ago–the Native American settlement of La Push, on the Olympic Peninsula on the far northwestern corner of the Continental U.S.  I photographed this trunk of driftwood, raised vertically into the damp grey sand.  In my mind, it was simple to bring this mythological being to life.  An eye.  The line of muscled arms.  A swirl of clouds that form at his beckoning.

For me, this piece has become a touchstone to remind myself that the wild and unknowable parts of our world are just as important to our psyches as the known & easily explained.


This piece is part of my #ArtForGood project, where all proceeds from the sale are donated to a nonprofit organization. For this piece, the buyer has donated funds to Forterra, the organization which (among many other projects) sponsors the Green Seattle Partnership program, pairing Seattle City Parks with volunteer forest stewards (myself included) and support (funding, plant biologists…).


  • Medium Sennelier oil pastels on paper
  • Dimensions 14″ x 11″, mounted, double-matte, 20″ x 16″, unframed
  • Donation US$75, excludes shipping
  • Availability Date  December 8, 2019
  • Status SOLD to a private collector

~ by Delfino on 2009/01/07.

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