60 x 84 in | oil finger painting on canvas
A powerful bull elk with enormous antlers lets out a steamy bellow at high noon. His antlers cast a sharp shadow on his back like a sundial. Tall, dew-covered grasses reflect the different colors of sunlight. Yet this is not an elk mating bugle because a red-winged blackbird and a large raven join the chorus. Surreal multi-colored orbs in the foreground make the dense forest in the distance like a night sky in miniature.
A trio of animals that do not typically associate are participating in a group call event, a communion phenomenalized by multicolored floating orbs. Though I have not seen light orbs myself, I believe the many eyewitness accounts describing their appearance. They seem to be conscious beings that show up when there are unusual occurrences in nature.
As uncanny as the subject is, the origin of its title is even weirder! I heard the name of the painting as if through clairaudience like it was whispered from a different dimension. It was very late night, in my apartment, and I was putting on finishing touches, thinking it’s time to name this painting, it’s almost done.
My mom was visiting me from out of state at the time. That’s when I had what felt like an anomalous thought. Suddenly, very clearly, I remembered the name of a store I hadn’t seen or thought about in 16 or 17 years, a random hat store from a ski resort I’d visited as a kid—Wapiti Woolies. The thought was so out of the blue and unrelated to the present moment I couldn’t understand why that name kept repeating in my mind. I even began repeating to myself how strange it was that I couldn’t get the name of this random hat store out of my head.
To clear my head, I asked my mom to help me name the painting and she started looking up names for elk in different languages. And the hair stood on the back of my neck when my mom yelled out, “Wapiti… it’s elk in Algonquin.” I looked at her in disbelief; it was as if she had looked right into my brain and explained it back to me.
I don’t know how to understand what happened except as a psychic moment or an instance of the sort of synchronicity that makes the world feel like a magical place. Have you ever experienced something like this?