Heron Dance. The words themselves are evocative, though of what we’re not sure. Do herons dance? What would that look like? Or is the pair of words a metaphor? Maybe the whole point of their juxtaposition is to force you to slow down and meditate on nature.
That would certainly describe Rod MacIver’s serene artwork: soft, dreamy images of landscapes and creatures — an owl, a bear, a butterfly, a flock of birds in flight. He’s been making art for some 20 years, and sells it in the forms of original paintings, prints, calendars and notecards. From his North Ferrisburgh studio, founded in 1994, MacIver sends some 16,000 subscribers a daily e-newsletter called A Pause for Beauty. It includes images and MacIver’s reflections on life inspired by “wild rivers, wild nature and the Tao.” Fans can spring for a $180 limited-edition collection of art and essays in a handsome clamshell box, or just like MacIver on Facebook.
And, starting this Friday, you can walk into MacIver’s brand-new Heron Dance Wild Nature Art Gallery in Winooski and check out the work yourself.
Located at 45 Main Street — facing the traffic circle and beside the Winooski Welcome Center — the capacious space boasts 24-foot ceilings and a bank of tall, west-facing windows. MacIver will display his own work and merchandise and says he also plans to exhibit large sculptures by other artists. “I have three sculptors in mind and intend to do more research,” he says. “But there’s just so much going on, getting the gallery set up.”
Not to mention running the fulfillment end of the Heron Dance enterprise, which takes place in North Ferrisburgh with the help of assistants. Then there are MacIver’s writing and painting — both essential to his unique self-expression, he points out. MacIver spends days of each week at his cabin studio in the Adirondacks. The wooded locale is the wellspring for much of his work, including a forthcoming book titled Wild Rivers and the Tao.
MacIver, 57, has a long history of exploring wilderness areas in his native Canada. He left behind careers in real estate and investment, and he beat cancer — more than once. Now devoted to living simply and close to nature, he laughs gently when asked why he’s complicating his life by opening a gallery. Hey, a guy can dream. Literally, as it turns out.
“It sounds flakey, but I had a dream a few months ago of a huge house built around this enormous painting, perhaps 35 feet wide,” he explains. “I’ve been thinking about how I would do that.”
Yes, MacIver intends to start painting big. Very big — “in acrylic ink, probably on panels,” he says. Finding a venue to accommodate such works dovetailed with his desire to come back to town, as it were. “I’d been wanting to move to the Burlington area for a while,” he says. “[The Winooski space] is perfect for what I have in mind.”
MacIver hopes people will patronize the new gallery, but, again, he’s thinking bigger: “The plan is to market the paintings and sculptures to architects all over the Northeast,” he says. “It will take a few months to get going.”
Meanwhile, curious art lovers are invited to the grand opening of Heron Dance Wild Nature Art Gallery this Friday. Music by the Hardscrabble Hounds and Helen Hummel just might make the people dance, if not the birds.
Heron Dance Wild Nature Art Gallery, 45 Main Street, Winooski. Reception Friday, March 1, 5 to 8 p.m. Info, 922-9652. herondance.org
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