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Pear, Hummingbird, Viola (The Unseen Still Life), 1999 Oil on canvas, 22 x 17
Collection of Patrick R. Williams and Rebecca H. Swanson

Rebecca H. Swanson longtime friend of the artist, posed for this introspective work. Inspired by the intensely personal connotation of the words, she gave the painting its unusual title. Pear, Hummingbird, Viola is intentionally enigmatic, portraying the private thoughts of a mature woman as she contemplates the next stage of her life. The hummingbird, representing new spiritual growth, serves as an obvious focal point. The unseen elements, however, bring several questions to mind. Is the woman focused on a lush golden pear and a cluster of purple violas positioned off the edge of the canvas? Or, as she poses, does she listen to a melodic string symphony? The pear may also reference physical sensuality and unrequited longing. Perhaps the viola and the softly rendered landscape in the background reflect the model’s bond to nature and its promise of renewal.

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