Northstar Gallery: Blog en-us (C) Northstar Gallery (Northstar Gallery) Sat, 10 Apr 2021 00:25:00 GMT Sat, 10 Apr 2021 00:25:00 GMT Northstar Gallery: Blog 120 90 Conowingo Dam Eagles - A Second Visit Yesterday I had the opportunity to return to the Conowingo Dam to photograph the Bald Eagles and the Double-Crested Cormorants. The eagles were not very active yesterday, there are apparently many variables that determine the eagle's fishing activity as well as their aerial aerobatics. During most of the day there were perhaps 50 Eagles sitting on the rocks on the Eastern side of the river just resting preserving their energy. This is certainly an endeavor that requires much patience.

The Double-crested Cormorants were very active, diving deep under the water and usually returning to the surface with a large fish.

These images were made with a Nikon D850 and a Nikkor 500mm lens and are quite heavily cropped. There is a steep learning curve in photographing birds in flight and I expect the imaging to incrementally get better with  additional visits to the dam. The best images can be made when the eagles perform near the shore.

I met Jeff Deckman who does really outstanding aviation photography as well as beautiful bird photography. You can view his photography by clicking here.


Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam Bald Eagle in flight


Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam Bald Eagle

Double-crested Cormorant Conowingo DamDouble-crested Cormorant Conowingo Dam
Double-crested Cormorant

Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam Bald Eagle

Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam Bald Eagle

Double-crested Cormorant Conowingo DamDouble-crested Cormorant Conowingo Dam Double-crested Cormorant

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Double-crested Cormorant Conowingo DamDouble-crested Cormorant Conowingo Dam Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant Conowingo DamDouble-crested Cormorant Conowingo Dam Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested CormorantDouble-crested CormorantCormorant at the Conowingo Dam Double-crested Cormorant

Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam Bald Eagle​​​​​​​

Eagles Conowingo DamEagles Conowingo Dam

Conowingo Dam Eagle


Conowingo Dam eaglesConowingo Dam EaglesPhotography of the eagles at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland

Conowingo Dam



(Northstar Gallery) anima mundi bald eagles chesapeake bay conowingo cormorant dam double-crested eagles fine art fine art photography maryland nature northstar gallery photography susquehanna river Sat, 10 Apr 2021 00:24:28 GMT
Conowingo Dam Eagles Photograph of an eagle roosting in the trees at the Conowingo Dam Northstar GalleryEagle posing at the Conowingo Dam Fine art eagle photograph of an eagle roosting in the trees at the Conowingo Dam - Northstar Gallery


Last week I had the opportunity to photograph eagles at the Conowingo Dam. The dam is on the Susquehanna River on the Maryland border just north of where the river joins the Chesapeake Bay. The area is one of the most significant eagle nesting, feeding and breeding areas on the East Coast. At any one time there may be as many as 200 eagles in the area. The dam is a hydro electric facility and it appears that when the turbines are operating fish that pass thorough the turbines are temporarily stunned making them easy prey for the eagles.

The orbiting eagles visually lock on to a target, enter into a high speed dive and then use their powerful 6 foot wing span to flair just before contact with the water. If on target they pluck a fish floating just below the water's surface with their 2" talons and then climb into the air with their prize in tow. It is common for other eagles, especially younger ones, to try to steal the fish in mid air. The eagles can be observed engaging in aerial combat, flying inverted, locking talons and even catching a dropped fish in mid air. There is some thought that much of this aerial circus is actually training flights where the older eagles are teaching their younger offspring the finer points of aerial competition. Sometimes the eagles are at a distance orbiting in the middle of the river, other times they come close to the shore and seem to put on an aerial show for the pleasure of their audience. It is common for the eagles to fly overhead and roost in the trees along the shore. Eagles have hyper visual acuity and they miss nothing in their domain. It is quite clear, that in this arena, these eagles are the apex predators.

During the winter months, the area attracts eagles from up and down the East Coast, the water downstream of the dam never freezes because of its turbulence, so it remains an extravagant feeding ground during these winter months.

These images were made with a Nikkor 500mm lens and are heavily cropped using less than 10% of the image. There is a steep learning curve in photographing birds in flight and I expect the imaging to incrementally get better with  more time at the dam.


Eagle - Conowingo DamEagle - Conowingo Dam

Conowingo Dam Eagle in Flight


Conowingo Dam eaglesConowingo Dam EaglesPhotography of the eagles at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland

Conowingo Dam



(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi Conowingo dam eagles fine art fine art photography Maryland nature Northstar Gallery photography Fri, 02 Apr 2021 15:56:05 GMT
Stone Spirits - Proposal For Presenting NFTs In Museum or Gallery Venues  

Stone Spirit #163Stone Spirit #163Stone Spirit #163 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World as well as the ancient stone arts of Suseiki and Gongshi. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery

Stone Spirit #163


This proposal explores the presentation of fine art photography as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) in gallery or museum venues. The artist's Stone Spirits Series or Anima Mundi are proposed as content for an exhibit comprised of 20 to 25 images. The show's images would be presented digitally on a series of wall mounted Sony high resolution smart TVs. Each screen would be framed in a manner that reflects a traditional museum presentation. The Sony screens have a high quality non-reflective glass that is similar to non-glare museum glass. The digital files are uploaded to a directory on Google Drive and then displayed individually on the Sony smart TV screen. 

The quality of the fine art images presented in this manner far surpasses anything possible with a traditional print presentation because the digital format and Sony screens offer a resolution, palette, luminosity and dynamic range that is not attainable with traditional print presentations.

One main Sony screen might have a dimension of 85" and the rest of around 65". Some screens would present a permanent image while others may change every hour or over an a defined time period. Some images may change incrementally in pallet and content over the duration of the exhibit creating a dynamic quality to the show.

The images of Stone Spirits are micro photographs made with the use of a high powered microscope and explore the exquisite beauty, form, shape and color of this micro world. The stone subjects are small crystalline agate structures formed over 30 million years ago. Each stone holds the entirety of the universe and beckons us to consider the unity of creation. The exquisite shapes, forms and colors captured in Stone Spirits call to our collective unconscious with a vast array of animals, angels, symbols, demons, monsters, birds and other creatures. It would be possible to do an entire show on images of a single stone that might be less than 1/2" in diameter.

The photographic process uses a complex series of stacked focus images with each final image being comprised of from 40 to 500 individual exposures that are combined into a single image. The artist has worked on this technical process and the creation of the Stone Spirit images for over 15 years.   

Below is an example of an installation in a home setting that reflects the vision of this proposal.



Each image would be minted as an NFT to establish originality and authenticity. As a component of this premier NFT formated exhibit the NFTs would be made available for purchase on Open Sea or other NFT Marketplace.

If the gallery or museum is a non-profit 501(c3) there would be an option for the proceeds from the NFT purchases, less installation costs, to go to the gallery or museum. In this option the NFT minting would establish the NFT images as limited edition series by the artist. The artist would reserve the right to mint subsequent NFTs as part of the series. Individuals who purchase the NFT might also receive a traditional print signed by the artists that would be referenced in the NFT.

Such an exhibit might partner with a University or design studio to push the technological and innovation boundaries for NFT exhibits. Such an exhibit would form a model for other NFT presentations with in gallery and museum venues.

The exhibit could be presented as a physical museum or gallery setting as well as virtually in an online gallery.

A museum or gallery exhibit produced while there is much interest in NFTs, might generate significant national media attention.


(Northstar Gallery) collector prints digital art exhibit fine art gallery museum NFT Nonfungible Token Non-Fungible Token Northstar Gallery photography Mon, 29 Mar 2021 01:23:06 GMT
How to Present NFT Minted Fine Art Photography  

Stone Spirit #122


For the last several years I have been quite interested in the digital transformation of traditional art. I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors and as Board Chair of the Susquehanna Art Museum (SAM at the Marty). As part of our strategic planning we spent extensive time exploring how emerging digital formats for presenting and producing art would impact museum exhibits and practice.

This exploration of digital art preceded the current emergence of NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens. NFTs may transform the art world by creating a vibrant market for digital expressions and multiple options for artists to monetize their creative work. See the Northstar Gallery Blog post on NFTs.

My Stone Spirits Series is formated for both classical fine art print and digital presentations. As part of this process, in our home, we have a Sony 60" high definition smart TV that is used for the sole purpose of presenting fine art photography.

The screen is wall mounted with all cables routed in the wall. The screen is also mounted in a classic gold leaf frame. The screen has high quality non- glare glass that creates an effect similar to museum glass in traditional print presentations. The screens acuity, brightness and visual intensity is more that sufficient to display the images in a very bright, sun lit room. The intent is to create a digital presentation that reflects traditional fine art, wall mounted, installations.

Below is a real life example of our home installation;



The high resolution photographic images are digitally stored on Google Drive and the GFolio app is installed on the Sony smart TV and directed to access the Google Drive. The Stone Spirit images are either presented one at a time with a single image being selected for several days or for a special occasion. The Stone Spirits Series can also be presented as a slow moving series of images with images duration being set for a specified number of hours or days. Other content galleries are also presented on Google Drive and are accessible on the Sony screen. Some Stone Spirit images will be processed in a manner where they will change incrementally over time with a pallet that reflects changes in light over an array of day and seasonal cycles. The ability to curate your personal art in real time is profound and opens the door to personalized art that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

The Sony is a top quality high resolution smart tv and the image presentation is visually stunning. A high quality digital screen presents an image that is far superior to any classical print presentation. The digital image has a color saturation and dynamic range that is, by multi factors, greater than what is possible with print.

The overall presentation is that of a traditional wall mounted fine art print and it is very common that viewers do not recognize it as a digital presentation.

High resolution smart TV screens are readily available up to 85" and the cost of a 65" model is in the $1,500 to $2,000 range.

Each Stone Spirit is photographed at high resolution through a microscope and is comprised of from 20 to 400 individual exposures that are combined through a rather complex stack focus process. This creates images that translate the exquisite beauty and depth of the stone's; micro structure form and color. It is anticipated that future expressions will be created to change over time will be comprised of several thousand exposures. 

This process is perfectly suited for Non-Fungible Token (NFT) minting which establishes a permanent record of the NFT digital code that comprises the digital art file, affirms its authenticity and creates a permanent record of ownership, and associated rights and restrictions.

This process creates NFT art expressions that can not only be owned but can be experienced, shared and viewed in a manner that is potentially superior to traditional art. Such presentations can be considered valid not only for home art but for gallery and museum presentations as well. This digital format offers a level of creativity and diversity of content that is not attainable in traditional presentation formats.   







(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi fine art gallery museum NFT Nonfungible Token Non-Fungible Token Northstar Gallery photography Stone Spirits wall art Sun, 28 Mar 2021 17:46:06 GMT
NFTs - Nonfungible Tokens an Art Revolution NFTs or Nonfungible Tokens are a new concept that has set the art world on fire.  Nonfungible means you can't exchange the referenced item for another thing of equal value because it is one of a kind. The "T" in NFT refers to token or a unit of cryptocurrency on blockchain such as Bitcoin.

When you purchase an NFT you are purchasing a certificate of authenticity that serves as proof that a specific version of the digital art is uniquely yours. The transaction contains the actual code that expresses the visual component of the art as well as documentation establishing title or ownership and the rights that are attached to that ownership. What is so significant is that NFTs create a market, that allows for the seamless and secure transfer or art ownership that previously was not possible.

It appears that one of the products of this ease of transfer is that new forms of selling and investing in art is being created. Art expressed as an NFT includes, paintings, photography, film, music, dance, poetry, books, video games, animated GIFs, collector cards, and other forms of emerging digital expression.


Beeple NFT sells for $69,000,000


"MetaKovan, the pseudonymous founder of MetaPurse, is the buyer behind the $69 million dollar winning bid for a Beeple NFT auctioned at Christie’s yesterday. It was the third-highest sale price ever for a work of art from a living artist.

“When you think of high-valued NFTs, this one is going to be pretty hard to beat,” MetaKovan said in a statement published by Christie’s. “And here’s why — it represents 13 years of everyday work. Techniques are replicable and skill is surpassable, but the only thing you can’t hack digitally is time. This is the crown jewel, the most valuable piece of art for this generation. It is worth $1 billion.”

The $69 million NFT is a collage containing 5,000 mostly digital illustrations from Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, that were created for his Everydays series, in which he creates a new artwork every day. Winkelmann’s popularity online and his prolific output surely contributed to the sky-high price, but a key driver was also the growing hype around NFTs."

MetaPurse is a private investment firm that has been formed to acquire NFTs as financial investments.

Some artists, especially photographers, may offer the option of acquiring actual photographs of the digital art expressed in an NFT. The NFT may serve to validate the legitimacy of limited-edition art and or it may be the instrument that holds the actual financial value of the expressed art.

"The underlying thing that you're buying when you purchase an NFT is code that manifests the images of the art," said Donna Redel, who teaches courses on crypto-digital assets at Fordham Law School. "You're buying a different format of art."

When you buy an NFT, you may or may be not purchasing the copyright or trademark to the item and there may be any number of other digital versions of the item.

NFT advocates and recent transactions affirm that owning a piece of code in a blockchain can be an incredibly valuable thing and can be highly marketable.

As an example "You're not buying the picture," said Jake Brukhman, founder of cryptocurrency investment company CoinFund. "You're buying the property rights to the picture."

Blake Finucane wrote one of the first academic papers on tokenized art that is now defined as NFTs. And that means they're not interchangeable. Each one is special and identifiable. It's that non-fungibility that helps keep track of things like provenance and authenticity. Finucane says that, in turn, this creates scarcity for digital art. Elena Zavelev has spent much time explaining NFTs to art professionals as the founder of New Art Academy in New York including how NFTs can be used to monetize works of digital art.

But like with other collectables, whether it's baseball cards, rare books or fine art, having an original is special. The minting of the specific digital art on blockchain establishes its originality and its providence as part of a permanent open digital record. The blockchain digital record preserves the original image code as well as all transfers of ownership and rights. The minting of the art on blockchain creates scarcity and thus value. The fact that there may be unlimited numbers of copies of the art on the internet does not diminish the valuation of an NFT.

As an example CryptoPunks avatars have earned millions of dollars for their creators. You can download one of the avatars, but collectors would not consider it authentic. Authentic CryptoPunk avatars have sold for as much as $900,000. In such NFT transactions there is no visual difference between an original and a copied version other than the metadata that expresses its blockchain minting.



On March 11, 2021 the above CryptoPunk 7804 NFT created by Larval Labs sold for $7.8 million dollars. CryptoPunks are “unique collectible tokens that live on the Ethereum blockchain,”



Not all NFTs are originals. Many are the digital equivalent of a reprint or reproduction. But in this case, the reprint has what is essentially a unique bar code, or "token," on the blockchain, which is a decentralized record-keeping system. Instead of one institution having a ledger of transactions, blockchain uses a vast global network of computers that all hold each other accountable on the preservation of a shared permanent public record.

This means that it is very hard to remove an NFT from the Web as well as almost being impossible to edit the history of an NFT and establishes an NFT's minting (origin) as authentic and affirms its transaction history.


How are NFTs bought and sold?

All NFT transactions are in cryptocurrency so you have to purchase a cryptocurrency, like Ethereum or Bitcoin. You can then go to an NFT marketplace and participate in an auction or directly purchase a selected piece of art. Bids and direct purchase prices on the marketplaces are expressed in the form of the accepted cryptocurrency.  The marketplaces function very similarly to Ebay. Some of the popular marketplaces include KnownOriginRarible and OpenSea.


You can bid on an NFT and wait for the auction to end. If no one outbids you, you get the ownership and agreed to use rights for the piece of art in question. Your purchase becomes part of the permanent blockchain record and as the owner you have the right to sell it at any future time.


NFT Marketplaces


How are NFTs Minted?

In order to create an NFT you go to one of the NFT marketplaces and upload a file containing the code that defines the expressed art. This process is called "minting" an NFT.

As part of the minting process, the artist establishes use rights and ownership status as well as determining if the item is one of a kind, limited edition or if there are multiple copies or if it's part of a collection.


Once the minting is complete collectors can begin bidding on the art.

Digital artists can build a royalty into their NFTs that will apply to future sales, which is why many artists see great promise in NFTs: NFTs can cut out the middleman and open up a new-ways to monetize digital art.


As millions of dollars in transactions pour in for NFTs, advocates believe NFTs will soon expand beyond transacting: art, music, video clips and memes. One startup people use their NFTs as collateral for loans. Silicon Valley investors say the commercial possibilities in the NFT world are limitless.


How Long will a NFT Exist?

Blockchain is an emerging technology, however because it is increasingly being used for financial transaction, recording of births and deaths, land title, legal documents, business records and other fintech recorded on a global network of hundreds of thousands of computers it may have an enduring presence. This offers an intriguing platform for artists, one that assures the preservation of one’s creative work for many generations and perhaps for many centuries.


How do you know is a NFT is Authentic?

When an NFT is minted, in addition to the code that defines a high resolution-resolution image, metadata is minted with each token. This includes names and links, the most important piece of data is the SHA-256 checksum. This long string of characters allows anyone to verify the authenticity of the token’s associated artwork file. This data helps to prove that the token is genuine and that it is unique.

To validate an NFT you would check its SHA-256 and if it matches, you know you’re looking at the original art file that was minted with the token.


NFT and Northstar Gallery

I would welcome thoughts on minting some of the images from the Northstar Gallery Stone Spirits series as NFTs Will minting an NFT enhance the value of a related traditional fine art print? I have been very interested in the impact of the digital revolution on traditional art, how it will be exhibited, experienced and viewed. 



(Northstar Gallery) Beeple Bitcoin blockchain CryptoPunk digital art fine art fungible Larval Lab MetaPurse NFT Non Northstar Gallery photography token Sun, 14 Mar 2021 16:55:32 GMT
Ridged Pipe Wrench "Tool Portraits", "Northstar Gallery", "Ridgid Wrench", "hand tool" Ridgid Pipe Wrench The wrench is from the artists series Tool Portraits - Northstar Gallery. The series celebrates the beauty of well used hand tools.

Tool Portraits - Ridgid Pipe Wrench

The Northstar Gallery presents Tool Portraits which celebrates the beauty of well used hand tools such as this Ridged Pipe wrench. The tools are photographed in the artists studio in portrait format. The image beckons thoughts about the vast array of work the wrench was applied to over the many years of its useful life. The worn paint, the nicks, the worn edges all testify to many years of making and fixing things essential to our everyday lives. If it could tell its story what would be said? Also of interest in these beautiful tools is the vision and creativity of the individuals who designed them not only to be functional tools but to have great esthetic value. When viewed a hundred years from now, will the tools of our current digital age have the same esthetic value possessed by tools from the analogue age?  To view Tool Portraits click here.

(Northstar Gallery) collector fine art fine art photography museum Northstar Gallery photography pipe wrench print Ridgid tool Tool Portraits wrench Wed, 30 Dec 2020 22:39:42 GMT
The Streamlining Design Movement 1942, Cadillac, "Series 62", "Northstar Gallery", streamlining, "flying ladies", goddess, winged, photography, "hood ornament" mascot, print, museum, collectorWinged Goddess Streamlining Hood Ornament - 1942 Cadillac Series 62This 1942 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe Winged Goddess hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies. Flying Ladies explores the beauty and exquisite design elements of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This image is also an excellent example of the Streamline Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery. Flying Lady 1942 Cadillac Series 62  photography by Dennis W. Felty


In the 1920's and 1930's, people enjoyed the excitement of a new love affair with the automobile. During this period, cars displayed mascots or hood ornaments on the hoods of their vehicles. These mascots were works of art that made a personal statement to the world about the car's owner. One of the most famous hood ornaments was the Rolls Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy" designed by Charles Sykes in 1911. The popularity of Hood Ornaments continued through the 1940's with ever more diverse creations being added. A variety of gods, goddesses, indians, birds, greyhounds, lions, elephants, maidens, airplanes, rockets and other winged icons added a personal touch  to the cars they adorned. Car manufacturers added their own line of hood ornaments as an essential component of their branding and marketing initiatives. The Streamlining Design Movement was also an expression of Art Deco that had its origins prior to WWI and grew to influence the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios, cameras, appliances and vacuum cleaners.

You may view examples of Streamlining and Art Deco on Pinterest by clicking here.

Classic automobiles of this period frequently hosted hood ornaments that reflected qualities of the Streamlining Design Movement. One of the most common themes was the winged goddess or flying ladies which were often presented as a very sensual reflection of the female form flying in the air and or leaning into the wind. The winged goddesses symbolized, speed, delight, efficiency, power and beauty. The winged goddesses of these classic automobiles were also part of the genre of carved female mast heads mounted on the bow of sailing ships and would again appear on the nose art of B-17s and B-24 bombers of the Second World War. Similar goddess and maiden imagery is also found in European cemetery art in the classic cemeteries of Milan, Paris, Genova and Moscow. See the Northstar Gallery Series on Flesh & Stone. The beautiful maidens and goddesses of this art form served as as symbolic escorts or as a talisman during periods of transition, uncertainty and danger.

As the Great Depression approached, styles began to shift. Opulence and excess seemed unnecessary and designers began to look toward function and efficiency. As the world  entered the machine age, designs took an on industrial form that was seen in everything from cars to trains to commercial and residential buildings. Streamline Moderne style emphasized horizontal and curved lines that reflected the essence of "streamlining". Architectural design began to adopt the aerodynamic aesthetic as well. The movement took cues from the Bauhaus and International Styles.

Streamline Design Movement - Locomotives


The Streamlining Design Movement was based on the notion of evolutionary progress accomplished through the reduction of “parasitic drag.” By bringing all elements of their designs into line with a streamline curve, designers minimized the imperfections and eddies that would physically retard the forward thrust of progress. Streamlining design was critical to winning the Second World War. The Allies achievement of air superiority over Europe was critical to the war effort. During the war fighter and bomber aircraft were continuously improved resulting in dramatic increases in air speed, distance, maneuverability and altitude. The global eugenics movement shared values with streamlining and promoted the vision of increasing the reproduction of valued individuals and their families and the reduced reproduction of individuals and families that were perceived as being burdens to society. Like streamlining eugenics promoted the elimination of drag in society created by people who were perceived as consuming more than they contributed. This included individuals who were disabled, criminals, paupers, indigent, individuals who were addicted, or individuals of certain races. The American Eugenics Movement advanced the vision of a national policy that would require the issue a pedigree for all American citizens as a means of controlling reproduction. It was common to be able to go to the eugenics exhibit at state fairs and as a young couple get a genetics assessment with a determination that you were fit or not fit for reproduction. Streamlining and eugenics had wide-spread support in American society which saw advancing technology and active management of reproduction as the solution to almost all of societies social ills. Eugenics emerged as a global movement and ultimately manifested itself in the horrors of Nazi Germany. 

The following photo from the 1930s shows the award of the Fitter Family Award at the State Fair.

During this time automobile body design also began to reduce aero drag resulting in the creation of exquisite examples of automobile design. 

1937 Talbot1937 Talbot

Streamline Design Movement 1937 Talbot 

Below are several excellent examples of streamlining from the Northstar Gallery Flying Ladies Series.


1955 Rambler, Flying Ladies, "hood ornament" streamlining, maiden, goddess, "streamlining design movement" eugenicsStreamling Hood Ornament - 1955 RamblerThis streamlining hood ornament is from a 1955 Rambler Custom Farina body. This is from the artist series Flying Ladies that explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobiles and their mascots and hood ornaments. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery

Streamling Hood Ornament - 1955 Rambler


streamlining, "streamlining design movement", "Northstar Gallery", "hood ornament", mascot, 1948, Pontiac, Silver, StreakStreamlining Indian Hood Ornament - 1948 Pontiac Silver StreakThis streamlining indian hood ornament is from a 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak. The hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies which explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This is a great example of the Streamlining Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Streamlining Indian Hood Ornament - 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak


1933, Plymouth, streamlining, "Northstar Gallery", "hood ornament", mascot, "winged goddess", goddess, "Flying Ladies"Streamlining Design Movement Hood Ornament - 1933 Plymouth PC SedanThis 1933 Plymouth PC Sedan hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies. The Flying Ladies series explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This is a great example of the Streamlining Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Streamlining Design Movement Hood Ornament - 1933 Plymouth PC Sedan


1949, Chevrolet, DeLuxe, "hood ornament", mascot, rocket, "Northstar Gallery", "Streamlining Design Movement", streamliningStreamlining Hood Ornament - 1949 Chevrolet DeLuxeThis 1949 Chevrolet Deluxe rocket hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies. The Flying Ladies series explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This is a great example of the Streamlining Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Streamlining Hood Ornament - 1949 Chevrolet DeLuxe


1940, Chevrolet,  "hood ornament", mascot,  "Northstar Gallery", "Streamlining Design Movement", streamlining, goddess, maiden, "Flying Ladies"Streamlining Design Movement Hood Ornament - 1940 ChevroletThis 1940 Chevrolet hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies. The Flying Ladies series explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This is a great example of the Streamlining Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Streamlining Design Movement Hood Ornament - 1940 Chevrolet

(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi art deco fine art fine art photography Flying Ladies maiden Northstar Gallery photography streamlining streamlining design movement winged goddess Sat, 26 Dec 2020 03:32:05 GMT
Yearning for Balance & Harmony Stone Spirit #135Stone Spirit #135Stone Spirit #122 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World as well as the ancient art of Suiseki and Gongshi.

Stone Spirit #135 Photography by Dennis W. Felty

"For me, the creation of a photograph is experienced as a heightened emotional response, most akin to poetry and music, each image the culmination of a compelling impulse I cannot deny. Whether working with a human figure or a still life, I am deeply aware of my spiritual connection with it. In my life, as in my work, I am motivated by a great yearning for balance and harmony beyond the realm of human experience, reaching for the essence of oneness with the Universe."

Ruth Bernhard


(Northstar Gallery) abstract Anima Mundi fine art fine art photography micro microscope mineral nature Northstar Gallery photo photography Ruth Bernhard Scholar's rocks spirit stones stone Stone Spirits Suiseki viewing stones Thu, 24 Dec 2020 16:13:22 GMT
Quantum History  


Stone Spriit #125Stone Spriit #125Stone Spirit #125 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World as well as the ancient stone arts of Suseiki and Gongshi.
Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Stone Spirit #125 Photography by Dennis W. Felty

Over millions of years a stone's atoms vibrate in resonance to each moment noting the impact of time, pressure, sound, heat and chemistry within its molecular structure. The dance of the stone’s sub-atomic particles are in resonance with each moment of its existence. As you touch its surface, feel its weight and gaze at its beauty your presence is quietly captured in the millions of years of its quantum history.  – DWF




(Northstar Gallery) #125 abstract Anima Mundi fine art fine art photography micro microscope mineral nature Northstar Gallery photo photography quantum Scholar's rocks spirit stones Stackshot stone Stone Spirit Stone Spirits Suiseki viewing stones Wed, 23 Dec 2020 20:23:38 GMT
Jewels Deep Within Us  






Stone Spirit #123Stone Spirit #123Stone Spirit #123 explores the beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. The image is an artistic expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Stone Spirit #123  photography by Dennis W. Felty

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Each of the Stone Spirit Images requires a concerted search through a microscope in order to find the exquisite expressions of the beauty present in the micro world. This image is stack focused using multiple exposures at incrementally different focus points.

(Northstar Gallery) abstract anima mundi elizabeth gilbert fine art fine art photography micro microscope mineral nature northstar gallery photography scholar's rocks spirit stones stone stone spirit suiseki Wed, 23 Dec 2020 20:08:37 GMT
Insectavora Coney Island Snake Girl - Coney IslandSnake Girl - Coney IslandPortrait of the tatooed Insectavora "Snake Girl" a performer in the Coney Island Circus Side Show. Coney Island in New York City has a rich history of celebrating and embracing the great diversity of the human experience. The Coney Island Side Show has presented the experience of America's Freak Shows to over 1,000,000 visitors.

Insectavora "Snake Girl" Coney Island   photography by Dennis W. Felty

"In our infinite diversity we travel the same path, 

let us help each other along the way."


(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi carnival Coney Island diversity fine art fine art photography Insectavora Mermaid Parade Northstar Gallery photography piercings Snake Girl tattoo Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:31:54 GMT
Spirit of Life Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, ItalyStaglieno Cemetery, Genoa, ItalyFlesh & Stone offers black and white fine art photography exploring the deep connection between flesh and stone in myth and art as expressed in memorial art from around the world. This image celebrates the Burrano tomb sculpted by Piero da Verna in Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy.The beautiful maiden in repose embraces the frailty of the flesh that captures the brief moment of perfection. "Cimitero Mounmentale di Staglieno, Genoa Italia"

Flesh & Stone - Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy photograph by Dennis W. Felty

"Every day I am aware of the flow and constant change; perhaps I am at the edge of discovering what more our bodies might be able to teach about the spirit of life. At least, I am always exploring and trying to understand our relationship to the whole universe."

Ruth Bernhard


(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi black & white cemetery collector fine art fine art photography Genoa Italy maiden museum nature Northstar Gallery photography print Ruth Bernhard sculpture Spirit of Life Staglieno stone Stone Spirit Mon, 21 Dec 2020 16:07:37 GMT
Stone Spirits & Suiseki  

Stone Spirit #122Stone Spirit #122Fine art photography exploring the beauty of the micro world and the common design elements in form, color and structure throughout creation. Stone Spirit #109 is an artistic expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. Stone Spirit #122 Northstar Gallery

Today I received Manette Gerstle book Beyond Suiseki. The book presents a set of exquisite examples of Suiseki stone art. Suiseki are small naturally occurring rocks which are appreciated for their aesthetic or decorative value. They are similar to Chinese scholar's rocks. They may also be referred to a Spirit Stones, Viewing Stones or Gongshi.


To access the Northstar Gallery Stone Spirit #122 image click here




Chinese scholars' rocks, referred to as Gongshi, influenced the development of Suiseki in Japan.[2] The history of Suiseki begins during the reign of Empress Suikowhere when small stone objects were brought to Japan as gifts from the Chinese Imperial court.[3]


Suiseki stones are found in nature; they are usually expressive stones that have an exquisite shape, color and or texture. There is often a distinction made between landscape and object stones. The former reflects landscapes such as mountains, lakes or rivers, while the second resembles animals, human forms or sculptures.


The stones are typically found in rivers, caves, oceans and karst areas. They are usually not reshaped, however the cutting of stones to form a flat base is usually permitted.


The classification and quality of Suiseki considers; shape, markings, form, texture and subtlety of color.

  • Landscape Suiseki (Sansui keijo-seki): may reflect a mountain, island, waterfall, shore, cave, canyon or a plateau.
  • Object-Suiseki (Keisho-seki): may reflect a person, animal, boat, house or bridge. 
  • Celestial-Suiseki (Gensho-seki): may present patterns resembling the moon, sun or stars.
  • Plant-Suiseki (Kigata-ishi): may reflect flowers, fruits, grasses, forests or Bonsai.
  • Weather-Suiseki (Tenko-seki): may reflect rain, sunlight, lightning or snow.
  • Abstract-Suiseki (Chusho-seki): with surfaces similar to animal prints, tangled nets, etc.


The following image from the Northstar Gallery is of a Sikhote meteorite from Russia. This artist suggests that it expresses many of the elements found within the Suiseki art form. 

Sikhote-Alin Meteorite RussiaSikhote-Alin Meteorite RussiaThe Sikhote-Alin meteorite fell in eastern Russia in February of 1947. The overlapping regmaglypts or thumbprints on the meteorite are caused by surface melting as the meteorite fell through our atmosphere. Regmaglypts are one of the surface features used to identify meteorite types. Sikhote-Alin is comprised of approximately 93% iron, 6% nickel and 1% trace elements. Sikhote-Alin Meteorite Russia Northstar Gallery

In the eighth century in China, paintings of fantastic rocks began to appear in a manner where elegant rock specimens, were frequently combined with an ornamental tree or flower suggesting a garden setting.


By the seventeenth century, the aesthetic ideals of painting and scholars' rocks were almost indistinguishable. Assemblages of fantastic rocks in a garden, often arrayed in front of a white wall, might be inspired by compositional formulas developed in painted landscapes; conversely, the texturing and fantastic forms of painted landscapes often resembled those of scholars' rocks more than actual scenery. The passion for fantastic rocks culminated at this time with numerous "portraits" of actual and imagined specimens.


With the rise of monumental landscape painting in the tenth and eleventh centuries, artists created images of mountains that recalled twisting plumes of smoke, upthrust spearheads, cumulo-nimbus clouds, or the triangular form of the ancient pictograph for mountain. These form-types were not only presented in later landscape paintings, but also influenced scholars' taste in rocks. Scholars' rocks would frequently reflect the landscape formations depicted in the paintings.

The question arises, is it possible that fine art photography can be a contemporary expression of Suiseki and or spirit stones?

Robert D. Mowry, Harvard Art Museum’s Curator Emeritus, describes scholars' rocks as favored stones that the Chinese literati displayed in the rarefied atmosphere of their studios’. The Chinese scholar drew inspiration from the natural world; he did not go out into nature to paint or compose poetry, explains Christie’s specialist Pola Antebi. Rather, he worked within the seclusion of his studio and used these ‘representations of mountains’ as inspiration for his work.


“It is not a silly thing at all to enjoy a stone in a tray. I see the whole world in a tiny stone. Some objects in this world are huge, and others are small, and they come in all shapes, but they are not that different when you look at their essence”.


Rivera, Felix G. (1997). Suiseki: The Japanese Art of Miniature Landscape Stones, p. 40, citing The History of Suiseki in Japan (日本愛石史, Nihon aisekishi).


"Like a landscape painting, the rock represented a microcosm of the universe on which the scholar could look for inspiration," says Mowry., ‘Although most scholar’s rocks suggest mountain landscapes, these abstract forms may recall a variety of images, such as dragons, phoenixes, blossoming plants and even human figures.

A few of the mountainscapes may recall specific peaks but most represent imaginary mountains such as the isles of the immortals believed to rise in the eastern sea. However, more than anything it was the abstract qualities that appealed to the Chinese literati, an idea that resonates with the modern collector who will see parallels with the avant-garde forms of Brancusi, Moore and Giacometti.


Jonathan M. Singer’s book Spirit Stones: The Ancient Art of the Scholar’s Rock (Abbeville Press) makes a strong case that scholars’ rocks are worth contemplating. The book presents beautiful photographs of a private collection of Spirit Stones.


While rocks in the West are usually cherished for their rarity, size, and color, “Easterners say that scholars’ stones share a telepathic connection with human souls,” writes Hu. Learning to see soulful qualities in these nonliving objects by understanding their long-running importance in Chinese culture is one of the pleasures found in Singer’s book.


Shipu is an additional perspective on stone art. In Thomas S. Elias’s history, Shipu are books of description, poetry, or art dedicated to stones. The first was published between 300 b.c. and a.d. 100, as part of an encyclopedia of facts about the known world. Elegant and informative.



Poulnabrone dolmen IrelandPoulnabrone dolmen IrelandPoulnabrone dolmen is situated in a remote rocky field high in the mountains near Poulnabrone, Kilcorney, Ireland. Poulnabrone dolmen was used as a ritual center well into the Bronze Age. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the tomb was probably in use as a burial site between 3,800 and 3,200 BC.

Poulnabrone Standing Stones Ireland Northstar Gallery photo by Dennis W. Felty


Megalithic standing stones and stone circles such as Stonehenge were erected between 10,000 to 5,000 years before present time and are found across Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and much of Europe. They are believed to be sites of ritual practice. Similarly, Manitou is the American Indians' belief  that the spirit of creation is manifest in stones, rocks, rivers, mountains, rain and most other forms of nature. Megalithic standing stones and Manitou are parallel motifs to Spirit Stones where stones are also considered to have q spiritual component and or to reflect the totality of all of creation.

Click here to access the Northstar Gallery Poulnabrone standing stone image. 

Unique stones have played an important role in early human cultures. Lower Paleolithic Acheulean tool users, according to Robert G. Bednarik, began to engage in symbolic behavior such as art around 850,000 BP. There is evidence that they decorated themselves with beads and collected exotic stones for aesthetic, rather than utilitarian qualities. According to Bednarik, traces of the pigment ochre from late Lower Paleolithic Acheulean archaeological sites suggests that Acheulean societies, like later Upper Paleolithic societies, collected and used ochre to create rock art. 

 Robert G. Bednarik. "Beads and the origins of symbolism". Retrieved 2008-04-05.


Chauvet Cave, France


"The spectacular lions and rhinos of Chauvet Cave, in southeastern France, are commonly thought to be around 30,000 to 32,000 years old, and mammoth-ivory figurines found in Germany correspond to roughly the same time. Representational pictures or sculptures don’t appear elsewhere until thousands of years afterward. So it has long been assumed that sophisticated abstract thinking, perhaps unlocked by a lucky genetic mutation, emerged in Europe shortly after modern humans arrived there about 40,000 years ago. Once Europeans started to paint and think symbolically, their new skills, and their human genius, must have then spread around the world."

Smith proposes that spiritual beliefs drove the very first art. He cites Rhino Cave in Botswana, where archaeologists have found that 65,000 to 70,000 years ago people sacrificed carefully made spearheads by burning or smashing them in front of a large rock panel carved with hundreds of circular holes. “We can be sure that in instances like that, they believed in some sort of spiritual force,” says Smith. “And they believed that art, and ritual in relation to art, could affect those spiritual forces for their own benefit. They’re not just doing it to create pretty pictures. They’re doing it because they’re communicating with the spirits of the land.”

Early rock paintings are examples of early humans modifying rocks and rock surfaces for esthetic or spiritual purposes. Additional evidence of stones having a spiritual element can be found in the early Neolithic period, 7,000 years ago, where highly prized stones and jade have been found buried in tombs. Stone projectile points dating back 64,000 years have been excavated from layers of ancient sediment in Sibudu Cave, South Africa. The exquisite attention to beautiful form and design of ancient points suggest a deeper significance beyond functionality as a tool and may share the spiritual connotations of other stone expressions. Below is an arrowhead from Northstar Gallery Arrowhead Series. Here arrowheads are presented as missiles that have traveled across time and space with a message for current times.

To view Northstar Gallery Arrowheads - Messages Across Time and Space click here.



ArrowheadArrowhead Arrowheads Northstar Gallery photo by Dennis W Felty

It is most interesting to consider that when we view, touch or hold a stone that we find unique and admire its beauty and consider its greater meaning we are sharing a common experience with our first human ancestors and are celebrating the dawn of human consciousness. The emergence of consciousness was essential for the development of the fundamental qualities of the human experience to include the perception of beauty, an awareness of the past, an awareness of the future, an ability to plan, remembrance of past events, awareness of death and a perception of spiritual and religious experiences. 

Stone Spriit #125Stone Spriit #125Stone Spirit #125 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World as well as the ancient stone arts of Suseiki and Gongshi.
Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.
Stone Spirit #125 Northstar Gallery


Northstar Galleries “Stone Spirits” photographs are a contemporary expression of Spirit Stones. Additionally it should be noted that Japanese Suiseki has a rich history of including paintings and other two-dimensional pictorials where it was common for paintings to reflect viewing stones and for viewing stones to reflect paintings. What is unique about Northstar Gallery “Stone Spirits” is they only exist in the micro world and can only be experienced when viewed with the aid of a microscope and or camera. Northstar Galleries' Stone Spirits, like Scholar’s Stones are populated with dragons, monsters, devils, angels, animals, priests, birds, faces and human forms. The Stone Spirit images are enlarged from several hundred to several thousand times. The subject stones are typically 2 to 4 centimeters in diameter and often have a clear crystalline substrate that creates a three dimensional effect.  

The Stone Spirit images express many of the themes of Suiseki such as transformation, renewal, enduring presence, chaos, power, universality and beauty. I would be greatly interested in peoples’ opinion as to whether “Stone Spirits” are a contemporary form of Viewing Stones, Suiseki, Spirit Stones or Gongshi.

To visit the Northstar Stone Spirits Gallery please click here.



(Northstar Gallery) abstract angels Anima Bonseki demons fine art photography macro maidens Manitou micro microscope monsters Mundi mythological nature Northstar Gallery Scholar's rocks spirit stones stone stone spirits Suiseki Suseok viewing stones Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:20:33 GMT
Sacred Ground Grand Teton MountainsGrand Teton MountainsGrand Teton National Park  photography by Dennis W. Felty


Naught but earth, sky, rock and I

No sound but wind

Great is the sky, small am I

Clothed, yet naked and exposed

This is Sacred Ground

                                        -Daniel Birch

(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi fine art grand Grand Teton National Park mountain nature Northstar Gallery photography Sacred Ground stone Tetons Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:51:45 GMT
Secrets of the Sea Fine Art Seashell PhotographFine Art Seashell PhotographFine art photography exploring the exquisite beauty, form and design of seashells by Dennis W. Felty

photography by Dennis W. Felty

Learn the secrets of the sea?

Only those who brave its dangers

Comprehend its mystery!

                                                 -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Northstar Gallery) abalone Anima Mundi beach conch decor fine art Longfellow marine nature nautical Northstar Gallery ocean photograph photography sea seashells secret life of seashells secrets of the sea shell Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:42:02 GMT
Poulnabrone dolmen Poulnabrone dolmen IrelandPoulnabrone dolmen IrelandPoulnabrone dolmen Ireland standing stone

photography by Dennis W. Felty

Poulnabrone dolmen Ireland


The Poulnabrone dolmen is located in a rocky field in the remote, mountainous area near Poulnabrone, Kilcorney in Ireland. Poulnabrone dolmen was used as a ritual center well into the Bronze Age, with evidence that it was in use even into the early medieval Celtic era. It may have also served as a territorial marker in the Neolithic landscape, being located in a significant position widely visible from all directions and close to the important north-south route from Ballyvaughan Bay south to Kilnaboy.4 It is possible that the inhabitants of the region erected the structure to define the northern border of their territory 5, as well as using it as a burial site. Access the Northstar Gallery with the Poulnabrone image by clicking here.

Poulnabrone is part of an extensive array of standing stones found through-out Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Europe that affirms a deep interest in spirituality reaching back more than 5,000 years. Standing stones share parallel perspectives with the American Indian's concept of Manitou. Manitou is often expressed as a circular enclosure and other structures surrounding a grave. Both this and the ‘obtuse cone’ shaped cairn were gathered in the same manner. Every Indian, at least of the tribe to which the deceased belonged, considered himself to be under a sacred obligation, whenever he passed by, to add one stone to the heap. The Manitou cairns, like Poulnabrone, were frequently located on high, and solitary, grounds, remote from any settlement. They were considered as consecrated ground a sacred location on high.

Manitou saw spiritual elements inherent in the rocks and stones as well as other manifestations of nature such as mountains, wind, clouds, rivers and rain. It can be assumed that Standing Stones, such as Poulnabrone and Stonehenge and Manitou, share parallel perspectives with: spirit stones, Suiseki, Suseok and Scholar Rocks originating in Asia. However it was not until the late Tang dynasty (618-907) that scholar’s rocks began to be collected in earnest. 

Some of the first evidence of stones having a spiritual element can be found in the early Neolithic period, 7,000 years ago, where highly prized stones and jade have been found buried in tombs. Stone projectile points dating back 64,000 years have been excavated from layers of ancient sediment in Sibudu Cave, South Africa. The exquisite attention to beautiful form and design of ancient points suggest a deeper significance beyond functionality as a tool and may share the spiritual connotations of other stone expressions. The following image is from the Northstar Gallery series Arrowheads


photography by Dennis W. Felty

Radiocarbon dating indicates that the Poulnabrone tomb was in use as a burial site between 3,800 and 3,200 BC. 

During the excavation of Poulnabrone, the remains of 33 people were found buried underneath the monument. All but one of the adults were under the age of 30. They were established as having lived between 3800 and 3200 BC, and because the ground did not become an ongoing burial site over millennia, they can be assumed to have been elite members of their community. 4 Personal items buried with them included a polished stone axe, jewelry in the form of bone pendants and quartz crystals, as well as weapons and pottery. 4,11 The fact that none of the skeletons was intact 4 led to the conclusion that the site was not intended as an ongoing burial place: instead, the bodies were jumbled chronologically, rather than having been buried sequentially. Only one adult seems to have lived past 40 years of age. 12

The rich and deep history of Spirit Stones, Suiseki, Gongchi, Standing Stones and Manitou affirm an interest in spirituality and the unity of creation from the earliest of times that humans began their walk on earth.




1. National Monuments in State Care: Ownership & Guardianship. National Monuments Service, 4 March 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2019

2.  "Poll na Brón/Poulnabrone". (in Irish). Retrieved 22 September 2019.

3. Cunningham (2011), p. 31

4.  Jump up to:a b c d e Carthy (2011), p 136

5.  Jump up to:a b Carthy (2011), p 138


*Carthy, Hugh. Burren Archaeology. Cork: The Collins Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-8488-9105-0

*Cunningham, George. Burren Journey. Shannonside Mid Western Regional Tourism Organisation, 1978. ASIN: B000GUBTOK

*Lynch, Ann. Poulnabrone: An Early Neolithic Portal Tomb in Ireland. Dublin: Wordwell Books, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4064-2817-9

*Lynch, Ann. "Poulnabrone: A Stone in Time". Archaeology Ireland, Volume 2, No. 3, 1988. pp. 105-107. JSTOR 20561956

*Weir, Anthony. Early Ireland: A Field Guide. Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1980



(Northstar Gallery) abstract Anima fine art photography Manitou mineral Mundi mythological nature Northstar Gallery Scholar's rocks spirit stones standing stones stone Stone Spirits Suiseki Suseok viewing stones Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:26:07 GMT
Spirit Stone Stone spirit #124Stone spirit #124Stone Spirit #124 explores the beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. The image is an artistic expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Photography by Dennis W. Felty

Stone Spirit #124


"I see the whole world in a tiny stone. Some objects in this world are huge, and others are small, and they come in all shapes, but they are not that different when you look at their essence"

                                                               Felix Rivera



Rivera, Felix G. (1997). Suiseki: The Japanese Art of Miniature Landscape Stones, p. 40, citing The History of Suiseki in Japan (日本愛石史, Nihon aisekishi).


Northstar Gallery Stone Spirits

(Northstar Gallery) abstract angels Anima Mundi Bonseki demons fine art photography macro maidens Manitou micro microscope mineral monsters mythological nature Northstar Gallery Scholar's rocks spirit stones stone stone spirits Suiseki Suseok viewing stones Wed, 28 Oct 2020 13:26:19 GMT
Spirit of Ecstasy 1913 Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy1913 Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy.
This 1913 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Alpine Model Brewster Touring Body is from the artist series "Flying Ladies". The hood ornament is "Spirit of Ecstasy". "Flying Ladies" explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

Spirit of Ecstasy photography by Dennis W. Felty


The story of the Spirit of Ecstasy is shrouded in the gossip columns of London high society. It entails aristocrats, high society, benefactors, a beautiful woman, a secret affair and an enduring celebration of wealth, speed, power and success.

The Spirit of Ecstasy appears on the bonnet of Rolls Royce motor cars. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu was a pioneer in the automobile industry, and was also editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902. Lord Montagu approached his friend, the sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes about creating a hood ornament that would be befitting his Rolls Royce. Sykes created an initial version of the figure as a woman standing on one foot, with her gown flowing behind her, holding one finger to her lips as if keeping a secret.

The model for the figure was Eleanor Velasco Thornton often know as Thorn. Only a few castings were made around 1911 and few survive. Thornton was secretary to Montagu and, as gossip would have it, his mistress as well. The figure made by Sykes was called The Whisper.


Eleanor Velasco Thornton, Source:, © Motoring Picture Library

Eleanor Velasco Thornton, Source:, © Motoring Picture Library

Eleanor Velasco Began to work for Lord Montagu as his secretary in 1902. Lord Montagu fell in love with her and their love affair was to remain hidden, limited to a close circle of friends, for more than a decade. Secrecy was required because of Eleanor's lower social and economic status and Montagu was already married to Lady Cecil Victoria Constance Kerr.

By 1910 personal automotive mascots had become the fashion of the day. Henry Royce, the founder of Rolls Royce in 1904, was concerned that some owners were mounting "inappropriate" ornaments to their cars. Claude Johnson, managing director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, was tasked to commission a dignified and graceful mascot for use on all Rolls Royce motor cars.

Johnson turned to Sykes to produce a mascot which would be used on all future Rolls-Royce motor cars and become generic to the marque, with the specifications that it should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce”, namely, speed, silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace"2

Sykes' direction from Claude Johnson had been to evoke the spirit of mythical beauty, such as Nike, whose graceful image resided in The Louvre, but Sykes was not convinced, he felt that a more feminine representation was needed.

Johnson had in mind the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace statue in the Louvre. Winged Victory (or Nike) is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory and is often seen with extended wings.

It was Miss Thornton whom Sykes had in mind as the model for the project. Sykes chose to modify The Whisper into a version similar to today's Spirit of Ecstasy. He called this first model The Spirit of Speed.3 Later, Charles Sykes called it "A graceful little goddess". The Spirit of Ecstasy was ultimately selected for her name and road travel as her supreme delight, alighted on the prow of every Rolls-Royce motor car to revel in the freshness of the air and the musical sound of her fluttering draperies."

Claude Johnson devised the description of the Spirit of Ecstasy, he described how Sykes had sought to convey the image of "the spirit of ecstasy......she is expressing her keen delight, with her arms outstretched and her sight fixed upon the distance."

Henry Royce was ill during the commissioning of the Spirit of Ecstasy. He did not believe the figurine enhanced the cars, asserting that it impaired the driver's view, and he was rarely seen driving one of his company's vehicles adorned with the mascot.

The figure has had many variations in, names and sizes, from ‘The Whisper’ to ‘The Spirit of Speed’, to its current name of ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ and is often known as Emily, Silver Lady and Flying Lady. Kneeling versions were introduced for smaller sports cars and the current version has a robust defense mechanism. If any pressure is applied to the ornament, the car recognises what is happening and immediately retracts the figure into the bonnet.

The Spirit of Ecstasy was originally silver-plated, however the mascot was changed to a nickel & chrome alloy after 1914 in order to discourage theft. Today’s models have been digitally sculpted to resemble Eleanor Velasco Thornton and are hand-cast using the lost-wax process. Today the Spirit of Ecstasy can be stainless steel, 24-carat gold, illuminated frosted crystal, or even matte black and studded with diamonds.

Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia was torpedoed by a U-boat south of Crete. She had been accompanying Lord Montagu who had been directed to assume a command in India. He was thought to have been killed too, but survived and was saved after several days adrift in a life raft.






Rolls-Royce 'Whisper' Mascot Archived 3 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine – H&H, auction sale: 8 December 2009

The Spirit of Ecstasy – Edwardian Promenade

Eleanor Thornton – In Body or Spirit? – Paul Tritton, Rolls-Royce Owners' Club of Australia Library, 1986

The Spirit of Ecstasy : Part Four – Barrie R D Gillings, Rolls-Royce Owners' Club of Australia


(Northstar Gallery) AACA Anima Mundi automobile car classic classic car figure fine art fine art photography Flying Ladies Hershey Antique Car Show hood ornament maiden mascot Northstar Gallery photography Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Spirit of Ecstasy streamlining vintage winged goddess Thu, 22 Oct 2020 20:11:52 GMT
Greyhound Hood Ornament  


1936 Ford V8 Deluxe1936 Ford V8 Deluxe.
This greyhound hood ornament on a 1936 Ford V8 is an excellent example of the Streamlining design movement. The Greyhound was a symbol of speed, power and efficiency. The Greyhound hood ornament is found on the V8 Deluxe, the Standard Coup, and the model 48

1938 Ford V8 and Greyhound Hood Ornament photography by Dennis W. Felty

Henry Ford purchased the Lincoln Car Company in 1922 during its bankruptcy. Ford’s son Edsel commissioned the design for the Lincoln greyhound hood ornament in 1927 wanting to associate the Greyhound's speed with the company’s vehicles. The greyhound hood ornament was created using the lost wax method similar to that used on the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. Gorham Manufacturing Company, a silversmithing firm based in New York City, designed the hood ornament that was mounted on Lincoln automobiles through the 1930s. Later Lincoln switched to a coat-of-arms and knight’s helmet design for its hood ornament. Ford then adopted the Greyhound featuring it on vehicles like the Model 48 and DeLuxe Four Door until 1936. The hood ornament’s styling was clearly inspirational to both Dodge and Jaguar who created similar bounding animal ornaments in the years that followed.

The Greyhound is an excellent example of the Streamlining Design Movement that was applied to cars, airplanes, trains, ships and consumer products during the 1930s and 1940s. Streamlining's core concept is that by reducing drag, cars and airplanes could go faster and further by being more efficient. During this time rockets, airplanes, winged goddesses, began appearing as hood ornaments. The Streamlining Design movement encompassed car design as evidenced by the proliferation of fins on cars in the 1950s.


1942 Cadillac Series 621942 Cadillac Series 62This 1942 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe hood ornament is from the artist series Flying Ladies. Flying Ladies explores the exquisite design elements and beauty of classic automobile mascots and hood ornaments. This is a great example of the Streamlining Design Movement. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.

A winged Goddess hood ornament on a 1942 Cadillac Series 62

1948 Cadillac Series 62 Custom Sedanette1948 Cadillac Series 62 Custom SedanetteThis 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Imperial Sedanette is from the artist series Art of the Automobile. The Art of the Automobile explores the beauty and exquisite design elements of classic automobiles. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery.
Tail fin as the last phase of the Streamlining Design Movement

(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi automobile car classic car eugenics figure fine art fine art photography Ford Greyhound hood ornament mascot Northstar Gallery photography streamlining Thu, 22 Oct 2020 02:19:12 GMT
About Gargoyles & Grotesques


Gargoyle Marienplatz MunichGargoyle Marienplatz MunichGargoyle in Marienplatz Munich Germany

Gargoyle Marienplatz Munich Germany

Northstar Gallery Gargoyles & Grotesques

The word "Gargoyle" shares a common root with the word "Gargle"; which comes from "gargouille", a French word for "Throat". A true gargoyle serves is a waterspout as part of the architecture of a building or cathedral. The word “gargoyle” is also a derivative from the Latin word, “gurgulio”, which had a double meaning of, “throat”, and the “gurgling” sound water makes as it passes through a gargoyle. An architectural  carving that does not function as a drain pipe is referred to as a "Grotesque".  legend has it, that a fierce dragon named La Gargouille described as having a long, reptilian neck, a slender snout and membranous wings lived in a cave near the river Seine. The dragon caused much fear and destruction with its fiery breath devouring both ships and men. Each year, the people of Rouen would placate Gargouille with an offering of a victim, usually a criminal, though it was said the dragon preferred maidens. Around 600, St. Romanis promised to deal with the dragon if the townspeople agreed to be baptized and to build a church. Romanus subdued the dragon by making the sign of the cross and then led the now docile beast back to town on a leash made from his priest's robe. St. Romans burned La Gargouille at the stake, it is said that his head and neck were so well tempered by the heat of his fiery breath, that they would not burn. The remnants of Gargouille's head were then mounted on the town wall and became the model for gargoyles for centuries to come. 3


Russell Sturgis, writing in Sturgis' Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture and Building, defines a gargoyle as a: A water spout, ... projecting from a gutter and intended to throw the water away from the walls and foundations. In medieval architecture, the gargoyles, which had to be very numerous because of the many gutters which were carried on the tops of flying buttresses, and higher and lower walls, were often very decorative, consisting, as they did, of stone images of grotesque animals, and the like, or, in smaller buildings of iron or lead. Many cultures throughout history have created sculptures of fantastic creatures. These figures stir our imaginations, as they stirred the imaginations of the carvers who lovingly created them. We struggle to understand and explain them, delving deep into the realms of psychology, culture, symbols, history and religion. One of the more common belief is that gargoyles served as protectors, keeping evil away from the buildings and their occupants. However, there seems to be much at work here and we can suspect that their reason to be, operates on a multitude of levels.


Gargoyles can be traced back 4000 years to Egypt, Rome and Greece. Terra cotta water spouts depicting: lions, eagles, and other creatures were very common. Gargoyles used as water spouts were found at the ruins of Pompeii. The Egyptians believed in deities with the heads of animals and frequently replicated these deities in their architecture and wall paintings. When the Greeks saw the Sphinx, they began to incorporate grotesques into their own beliefs. The Greeks believed in many grotesques such as harpies, centaurs, griffins, and chimeras. Greek architects would often place statues of animals called acroterium, in the forms of griffins, at each corner of the roof of their treasuries and temples. In Greek mythology, griffins guarded the gold of Scythia from the Arimaspians, a race of one eyed giants or Cyclops, who would try to steal the gold. 


Adrienne Mayor, in her book The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times,  presents evidence that ancient legends of monsters may be based on the discovery, by nomads',  of dinosaur bones in central Asia, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.


Mayor suggests; that the myth of the griffin, a winged lion with a birdlike beak, was inspired by the nomads' discoveries of fossilized bones of protoceratops, an animal that became extinct more than 65 million years ago.


Mayor shows that ancient Greek and Roman researchers collected numerous fossils of large extinct mammals and displayed them in temples and museums. "There they identified fossils as the relics of giants, heroes and monsters of myth," she says. Some ancient writers argued that the enormity of the supposed "human" remains proved the human race had since "degenerated" or "run down," becoming smaller and weaker. 2


Gargoyles and grotesques have always given carvers and sculptors a chance to delight in their creativity and to explore the possibilities in the dance between stone and imagination. Gargoyles freed carvers from the limits imposed by other types of carving, and this was especially true in the Middle Ages. It is certain that stone carvers love creating these pieces, and viewers certainly love seeing them. This may be one of the more compelling reasons they exist.


France has over 100 cathedrals, most built in the middle ages, with Notre Dame being the most famous. In the Middle ages, the populace, for the most part, could not read and write. Churches used visual images to spread  the scriptures and reinforce biblical stories. These included; paintings, frescos, stained glass, figures,  sculpture and gargoyles. Some believe that gargoyles were inspired directly via a passage in the bible. Others will argue that they are the expression of man's subconscious fears or, that they may be vestiges of paganism from an age when god would be perceived in trees and river plains. The churches of Europe carried them further into time; maybe to remind the masses that "even if god is at hand, evil is never far away and to act as guardians of their church to keep the evil spirits at bay. 3

Mary Ann Sullivan, The Digital Imaging Project used with permission


The Chartres Cathedral has approximately 4 000 sculpted figures, but above all it's the portals present stone work of incomparable quality. "The sculptors of the cathedral of Chartres are as anonymous as are its' architects. These artists were artisans working on order and not as individual craftsmen. The sculptors formed a trade association among the others. They worked as a group, around a master or overseer who very likely shared out the tasks in function of the aptitudes and competence of one or another while carrying out the major pieces himself." 11


During the 1200's when gargoyles first appeared in Europe, when the Roman Catholic Church was actively converting people of other faiths to Christianity. Since most people at the time were not literate, images were very important in communicating ideas and telling the stories of the faith. Many of the religious images that non-Christians were accustomed to were of pagan origin and were of animals or mixtures of animals and humans. Integrating familiar images on churches and cathedrals was thought to encourage the populace to accept  the new religion and ease the transition from the old ways and old beliefs. 4


Pope Gregory's instructions to St. Augustine regarding the conversion of the pagan people to Christianity offered additional incite into the role of gargoyles: "Destroy the idol. Purify the temples with holy water. Set relics there, and let them become temples of the true God. So the people will have no need to change their place of concourse, and, where of old they were wont to sacrifice cattle to demons, thither let them continue to resort on the day of the saint to where the Church is dedicated, and slay their beasts, no longer as a sacrifice but for social meal in honor of Him whom they now worship." Pope Gregory legitimized the integration of pre-Christian and pagan practices and symbols into the Christian church as a strategy to facilitate the peoples conversion to Christianity. 5


"During the Middle Ages, the church was a very central part of the lives of the people. The influence of the church was so great during the Middle Ages that even powerful nobles often yielded to its dictates. Deeds of mercy and justice performed by lords and barons were the result of respect for religion and fear of God. Many people during the early Middle Ages believed that the end of the world was coming soon, and many people regarded life on earth as a rather unimportant preliminary to the afterlife. To assure a place in heaven, everyone in the kingdom would do anything to please God, even help in the construction of their church in any way they could. The rich often gave gold, and the lower class would help by carting stones to the construction site. "Medieval man was convinced of a relationship between the Creation and his own creativity. To do work in or on the church "was an honor and a goal" 10. God had made man; therefore, what man made was only once removed from God and, accordingly, had to be worthy of Him" 9 p117. For this reason only the most skilled architects and craftsmen were allowed to work on the sculpturing of the cathedral.. These skilled craftsmen possessed the skills necessary to create the detailed creatures known as gargoyles and grotesques. 9 p117 "  8


The cathedral also served as a "sermon in stone" which could be "read" by an illiterate population. Some carvings clearly fill this instructional purpose by illustrating Bible stories such as Eve's reach for the apple and frightening images of eternal damnation. Since gargoyles were on the outside of the cathedral and scenes of the Bible and statues of Jesus, Mary and the Saints where common inside the building, this represented God's power to protect the believers. They also represented the struggle between good and evil and symbolized how God was the only protection from evil in a fallen world.


Gargoyles stand guard, warding off unwanted spirits and other creatures and If they're hideous and frightening enough, it was thought they would be especially effective in scaring off all sorts of other threatening creatures. Perhaps it was even believed that some came alive at night protecting people when they were most vulnerable. Better still, the ones with wings could fly and protect the village as well as the church. 


Gargoyles and grotesques crafted during Medieval times became increasingly grotesque in design. Soon they were referred to as “chimeras” because of their representations of creatures that were not of this world - half man, and half bird or beast. These new incarnations were either depicted sitting on their haunches or poised to take flight. They also possessed over exaggerated muzzles or beaks and other odd appendages. They were positioned on a cornice molding so they projected forward and away from the building for a number of feet. In this way the gargoyle was able to spew water far from the building. "Although the demons and monsters so prevalent in cathedral sculpture may seem almost quaint to modern eyes, the men of the Middle Ages did not find them so. In a time when illiteracy was  almost a universal condition and belief in a literal, waiting Inferno prevailed, the purpose of most cathedral sculpture was not decorative but instructional. It was intended, to scare the hell out of its beholders, and there is every reason to believe it did a creditable job, presenting the horrors of damnation in living color (of which only faint traces remain today)." 2


One of the most notable examples of Gothic architecture that incorporated many gargoyles and grotesques is Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris. It is interesting to note, that; once lead drainpipes were introduced in the 16th century there was no longer any practical need for gargoyles. However, architects and builders continued to incorporate them into their building designs, but now gargoyles served only a symbolic, spiritual, religious, decorative or whimsical purposes.


North America also has its fair share of gargoyles. They protect many of the older buildings in cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. University campuses are also prime “habitats” for gargoyles with Princeton and Duke Universities, being a good examples. There are 6 gargoyles at the old Headquarters of the Philadelphia Fire Department at 1328 Race Street Philadelphia, PA. These whimsical characterizations are outstanding examples of the use of gargoyles in modern times and capture the essence of what it means to be a fireman. 

Green Man BudapestGreen Man BudapestGreen Man grotesque Budapest Hungry. The Green Man symbolizes rebirth and renewal representing the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring. The Green Man is most commonly depicted in a sculpture, or other representation of a face which is made of, or completely surrounded by leaves or other foliage.

Greenman NYC

© Copyright 1999 Northstar Gallery

A very common image represented in the genre of gargoyles and grotesques is the Green Man. He is one of the most common figures as he stares down at us from the roofs, pillars and doorways of our great cathedrals and churches all over the world. The Green Man appears on second century Roman columns and in Hindu temples in India. He is found all over England, Wales and Scotland. He is present in the great banks and financial houses of Wall  Street. His roots may go back to the hunters who painted the caves of Lascaux and Altimira. In one of his many manifestations as Robin Hood and the Morris Dances of Old England, he is chiseled in wood and cut into stone even to this day by men and women who no longer know his story but sense that something old and strong and tremendously important lies behind his leafy mask. One of the earliest English epic poems Gawain and The Green Knight may refer to another manifestation of the Green Man as the God that dies and is reborn This powerful theme of death and rebirth runs through all the diverse images and myths of the Green Man. In all, death and renewal are celebrated as the "Green" that represents all life.


Medusa is another image that shows up frequently as a grotesque. The Gorgons were three  sisters. Two of the sisters were  monstrous with huge teeth, brazen claws and snakey hair. Sthenno and Eurayale were immortal, but Medusa, the third was mortal. Medusa, was a beautiful maiden who's hair was her crowning glory. She was loved by the god Poseidon in the temple of Athena. Athena was deeply angered and turned Medusa into a monster and changed her glorious hair into snakes. Athena made Medusa so ugly that that anyone who looked at her was instantly turned to stone. All around Medusa's cavern were stone figures of men and animals which had risked a glimpse her and had been petrified with the sight.


Athena sent Perseus to slay Medusa, she lent him her shiny shield and Hermes lent him her winged shoes. Perseus approached Medusa while she slept and taking care not to look directly at her, guided by her image reflected in the bright shield, he cut off her head and gave it to Athena. In her ugliness, Medusa was the grand sculptor, a creator of gargoyles and grotesques, immortalizing  their flesh by turning it into stone?


Carl Jung observes "A symbol always stands for something more than its obvious and immediate meaning. Symbols, moreover, are natural and spontaneous products. Their origin is deeply buried in the mystery of the past that they seem to have no definitive human source. They are in fact "collective representations," emanating from primeval dreams and creative fantasies. As such, these images are involuntary spontaneous manifestations and by no means intentional inventions."  


The most likely truth is that all of these elements come together in explaining both the existence and our attraction to gargoyles and grotesques; the conscious, the unconscious, primitive religion, myth, Christian conversion, practicality and certainly the stone cutter's joy of creation. The images under consideration embody profound symbolic content from our "collective unconscious" and are significant and enduring symbolic manifestations of the human experience.


Stephen King in his introduction to Nightmares in the Sky states: "...This is rather ironic, because the lady with the snaky hair is probably more famous for turning folks to stone than she is for becoming a piece of sculpture herself.... Medusa, a creature too horrible for mortals to look upon, offers at least this cold comfort: in the end, she was too horrible to look at herself. She, that queen of nightmares with her writhing crown of snakes, become the world's first real gargoyle.


I am suggesting that the gargoyles....may continue to perform their original function: to drain away that which might cause rot and erosion. Their horrible, stony faces offer a unique catharsis; when we look upon them and shudder, we create the exact reversal of the Medusa myth; we are not flesh being turned to stone, but flesh proving it is flesh still. It is not too much to say that great art, no matter how primitive, recreates the imagination, and keeps it from turning to stone....Look closely, because we see these ominous lares of the human psyche so seldom. They are there, these nightmares, but thy are in the sky. Look closely, because even when you don't see them...they are watching you."1





1. Fitzgerald, f-stop. Nightmares in the Sky p35

2. Jacobs, Jay. Great Cathedrals p48

3. Adrienne Mayor., The First Fossil Hunters

3. Gargoyles, Dragons, and Other Formations

4. Gargoyle Etymology & History

5. Gargoyles Then and Now

6. Mary Ann Sullivan The Digital Imaging Project 

7. Jung, Carl. (1964). Man and His Symbols p55

8. John J. Triggs, Gargoyles in Medeival and Gothic Art 

9. Fremantle, Anne. Age of Faith

10. Mediaeval Culture

11. The Cathedral of Cartes


William Anderson The green man Harper Collins 1990

Jules Adeline Les sculptures grotesques et symboliques E. Auge, 36 Rue Grosse Horloge 1878

Francis B. Andrews The medieval mason and his methods 1922 (reprinted Dover 1999)

R. Bernheimer Wild Men in the Middle Ages: A Study in Art, Sentiment and Demonology Harvard University Press 1952

John Blackwood Windsor Castle's Gargoyles and Grotesques Charon Press 1988

Lester Burbank Bridaham Gargoyles, Chimeres and the Grotesques in French Gothic Sculpture Da Capa Press (New York) 1969

Richard N. Bailey England's earliest sculptors Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies 1996 

Richard N. Bailey Ambiguous birds and beasts Friends of the Whithorn Trust 1996 

Kathleen Basford 'Quest for the Green Man’ in Symbols of power, H.R. Ellis Davidson (ed), D.S. Brewer 1977

Kathleen Basford The green man Brewer 1978 [reprinted 1996]

Janetta Rebold Benton Holy terrors - gargoyles on medieval buildings Abbeville Press 1997

J.H. Betty and C.W.G. Taylor Sacred and satiric: medieval stone carving in the West Country Redcliffe 1982

John Billingsley Stony gaze - Investigating Celtic and other stone heads Capall Bann 1998

John Blackwood Oxford's gargoyles and grotesques Charon Press 1986

Lester Burbank Bridaham, Gargoyles, Chimeres and the Grotesque in French Gothic Sculpture. Da Capo Press Series in Architecture and Decorative Art, Vol 21. New York : Da Capo Press, 1969.

Joseph Campbell .   The Power of Myth.   Apostrophe S Productions, Inc., United States 1988

The Cathedral of Cartes

f -stop Fitzgerald.  Nightmares in the Sky. Penguin Books Ltd, England  1988

Jay Jacobs, Great Cathedrals,American Heritage Publishing. New York, 1968

Carl Jung.   Man and His Symbols. London: Aldus Books Limitted. 1964

Fremantle, Anne. Age of Faith. New York: Time-Life Books, 1974.

Sacheverell Sitwell, Gothic Europe.New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.

Jay Jacobs, ed., The Horizon Book of Great Cathedrals. New York : American Heritage Publishing Co., 1968.

Adrienne Mayor., The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times:

Gargoyles, Dragons, and Other Formations

Gargoyle Etymology & History

Gargoyles Then and Now


John J. Triggs, Gargoyles in Medeival and Gothic Art

Maurice Francis Egan Glories of the Catholic Church in Art, Architecture and History DH McBride & Co. 1896

Aron Gurevich Medieval Popular Culture: Problems of Belief and Perception trans. J.M. Bak, Cambridge UP 1988

Ivan Karp et al. Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture Smithsonian 1992

E. Langton Essentials of Demonology London 1949

Emile Male L'art religieux de la fin du moyen age en France Armand Colin, 103 Boul. Saint Michel 1920

Susan M. Pearce Museums, Objects, and Collections: A Cultural Study Smithsonian 1992

Ronald Sheridan and Anne Ross Grotesques and Gargoyles: Paganism in the Medieval Church David and Charles 1975


Mary Ann Sullivan The Digital Imaging Project

J.H. Vaux The Canterbury Monsters Mereborough Books 1989

Barbara G. Walker, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1988.

Mediaeval Culture." Online.Infoseek: begieral/cult.html Nov. 

John Harvey. The English Cathedrals. New York: Hasting House, 1956.

Martin Hürlimann, and Peter Meyer. English Cathedrals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1950.

Janson, H.W., and Anthony F. Janson. History of Art. 5th Ed. Rev. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997.

Jordan, Furneaux R. The World of Great Architecture, From the Greeks to the Nineteenth Century. New York: The Viking




(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi fine art gargoyle Green Man grotesque Northstar Gallery photography Fri, 09 Oct 2020 21:49:37 GMT
Stone Spirit #120 stone #120stone #120


Stone #120 is a new addition to the Northstar Gallery "Stone Spirits" portfolio. It is comprised of 100 exposures at varying precise focus points, the 100 exposures are then combined into a single image. The blood red crystalline structures reflect the fiery process combined with great pressure and complex chemical processes that formed stone #120 many millions of years ago. It reminds us of the cycle of creation followed by destruction followed by rebirth and then renewal and creation. Change, rebirth and renewal do not occur without the process of dying to self as an essential part of rebirth. Stone #120 captures these elements as the essence of "Anima Mundi" or Soul of the World.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Dennis Felty


(Northstar Gallery) abstract Anima Mundi creation crystalline destruction fine art fine art photography mineral nature Northstar Gallery photo photography rebirth renewal Scholar's rocks spirit stones Stackshot Stone Spirits Suiseki Zerene Fri, 04 Sep 2020 15:30:21 GMT
The Secrets of Life  




Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.     

L. Wolfe Gilbert



(Northstar Gallery) Anim Mundi fine art nature Northstar Gallery owl photo photography secrets of life Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:15:26 GMT
Albert Einstein SeashellSeashellFine art photography exploring the beauty, form and design of beautiful seashells by Dennis W. Felty

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.     

Albert Einstein




(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi einstein Northstar Gallery ocean photography seashell shell Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:11:56 GMT
Cognisys Stack Shot System In the last few weeks I have begun to use the Cognisys Stackshot system. The Nikon D850 camera is mounted on the Stackshot rail and a motor turns a screw on the rail advancing the camera a fraction of a millimeter. The control system trips the cameras shutter at each stop allowing a series of exposures to be made at precise focus points. Zerene Stacker is used to compile all the exposures into a single image selecting areas of best focus from each image. I have been getting best results from compiling 100 exposures to create a single image. The camera and Stackshot are mounted on a modified Durst 138 5x7 enlarger. This creates a high resolution microscope optical system with the capacity to capture the micro images of "Stone Spirits".


The Allan Walls Cage Project has additional information on the technology of this setup.

Nikon D850 and Cognisys Stackshot railCognisys Stackshot System for Extreme Micro Photography



(Northstar Gallery) Cognisys Durst 138S micro microscope Nikon D850 Northstar Gallery photography Stacker Stackshot Zerene Wed, 02 Sep 2020 23:53:44 GMT
Intentionality Stone Spirit #133Stone Spirit #133Stone Spirit #125 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. Photography by Dennis W. Felty - Northstar Gallery

As elements of this exquisite beauty reveal themselves, you are confronted with the question of intentionality. What purpose does such beauty serve when it is buried so deep in the elements of creation and that only very small aspects are ever subject to perception? In the micro world of "Stone Spirits"   the universe calls to us. It is this question that transcends molecular structures and the effect of heat and pressure that suggests the name "Stone Spirits". One must ask: Is such beauty inherent in creation or is it essential for emerged consciousness to affirm it's own relevance through the exquisite perception of it's beauty?


"The contemplation of beauty 

causes the soul to grow wings."





(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi beauty fine art fine art photography micro microscope mineral nature Northstar Gallery photography Scholar's rocks spirit stones stone Stone Spirits Suiseki Tue, 01 Sep 2020 15:46:56 GMT
The Creative Process of Stone Spirits  

Stone Spirit #166Stone Spirit #166Stone Spirit #166 explores the exquisite beauty of the micro world and the common design elements found throughout creation. Stone Spirits is an intimate expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of the World as well as the ancient stone arts of Suseiki and Gongshi. Photography by Dennis W. Felty Northstar Gallery "Stone Spirits" explores the beauty of creation and the exquisite design, form, color and line found within the crystalline structure of stones, fossils and sea shells. The frozen structures of "Stone Spirits" call us to confront the dynamic and chaotic forces of creation and life itself. In these images one finds evidence of not only profound beauty but the apocalyptic forces of heat, light, pressure, change and ultimately transformation. These are inherent truths that not only define the process of creation but describes the fundamental human experience. Out of chaos and darkness comes light, beauty, transformation and rebirth.


The images in this study are macro and micro photographs of very small sections of stones, fossils and seashells. Some of the specimens are as small as  0.01 mm. The technology of the micro application uses a high resolution Nikon D850 digital camera mounted on a modified Durst 138S enlarger, using a range of Nikon & Mitutoyo microscope objectives, Nikon macro lenses and enlarging lenses.


Most of the stones are pietersite, petrified wood, agate, ammonite  or various other fossils. The macro photographs are presented 5 to 20 times larger than the subject and the micro images are presented 50 to 1,000 times larger than the subject.


The digital images are recorded in RAW or TIFF format and are processed in Photoshop CS2. The images are presented quite natural, the intense color captured in the stones are inherent aspects of the stones. The Schott fiber optic light source provides outstanding light quality at 3800 degrees. I do eliminate distracting small artifacts from the digital files in Photoshop. The following photos illustrate the set up as well as some of the stones and shells that serve as subjects.


Because the imaging is at the micro level the depth of focus is very shallow and the stones actually have depth with the micro structures being suspended in a clear crystalline substrate. To get high levels of resolution a stack focus process is used where from 20 to 100 images are made at slightly different focus points. A Cognisys Stackshot rail system is used to get precise micro changes in focus. The stack focused images are processed and combined in Zerene Stacker. 


The process of developing the technology to capture these images has been quite challenging and has been a difficult path of over 15 years. This path has not only been a path of technological evolution, it has also been a path leading to deeper understandings of the essence of the process that has caused their creation and our subsequent ability to celebrate their beauty. 

Micro Photography Set Up Nikon D400 Microscope and Nikon D850 CameraNikon D400 Microscope and Nikon D850 Camera Micro Photography Set Up Stone #122RSubject stone for Stone Spirits

Allan Walles has been been generous is sharing his knowledge and expertise in the technical aspects of extreme micro photography and optics. The Stone Spirits technical setup is referenced in Allan's Cage Project web site.


Stone Spirits set up in Allan Walles Cage Project


(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi Cognisys macro micro microscope Nikon D850 Nikon E400 microscope Northstar Gallery photography Stacker Stackshot Stone Spirits Zerene Tue, 01 Sep 2020 15:34:26 GMT
Anima Mundi & Stone Spirits Fine Art Photography Anima Mundi


Stone Spirits

Stone spirits formed of the dawning of creation.

Speaking of life-force and the secrets of heat and passion.

Never calling in word but touching our sole in beauty and promise.

Look past the science of matter to the essence of being.

A moment of wisdom, a moment of truth.  

                                                                                                         by the artist


In the moment of creation there was an infinitely small singularity that transformed into a super-heated hydrogen plasma. Over time complex hydrogen atoms emerged from the plasma and formed the first stars of our universe. These first generation stars burned through their hydrogen fuel and devolved into super nova’s sending out massive releases of energy which formed the diverse atoms that make up our known universe including all the atoms that form you and I and the minerals observed in Stone Spirits. The material of the super nova created dust clouds that  coalesced into our first galaxies. New suns formed and ignited their nuclear fires. Gravity captured dust particles that coalesced into proto planets that grew into large planets. Some planets, that were favorably situated and able to sustain a stable climate for several billion years, saw life emerge from a planetary molecular stews rich in chemicals and energy.

The physical laws of the universe reveal an elegance that is hard to grasp. For the universe to evolve from a hydrogen plasma to its current state required the force of gravity, the speed of light, the qualities of sub-atomic particles, the amount of black energy and black matter, the force of magnetism the qualities of basic elements to be exactly what they are. Slight variations, even at the level of 30 decimal places would have resulted in the universe dissipating into nothingness or collapsing back into a singularity.

The mineral structures captured in Stone Spirits were formed perhaps 30 million years ago. They are the product of complex multi-phase geologic processes comprised of intense heat, pressure, and complex chemistry.

On Earth simple one celled expressions of life emerged and became incrementally more complex and in that process intellect and consciousness emerged. That intellect acquired the capacity to form concepts and use tools, eventually building telescopes and turning them towards the night-sky. As they looked at objects at increasingly greater distance, they realized they were also looking back in time observing the physical stages of the evolution of the universe and the incredible path that had been traveled.


Anima Mundi

A momentary vision

Perceptions of the eternal

Born of the fires of creation

Chaos and Destruction

Darkness into light


                     by the artist


In doing so, they observed a path of 13.7 billion years and saw the process of our cosmic creation and in doing so validated and affirmed the path that had been traveled. The personal experience of looking outward and encountering a consciousness that affirms the relevance and beauty of creation is a powerful expression of Anima Mundi or Soul of Earth. 

In observing the images of Anima Mundi and Stone Spirits each observer sees their own set of figures, forms, totems, masks, angels and devils.  The structures, forms, colors harken to the process of destruction and rebirth that serves as the central force of our universe. These shapes, forms and totems become metaphors for the path that has led to this moment in a moment.

For millions of years the beauty inherent in Stone Spirits remained hidden deep in the ground and unperceived. Even today it cannot be experienced without a microscope and camera. The forms, shapes and colors of Stone Spirits repeat across creation. Images captured at the micro level remind us of images captured by the Hubble at the cosmic level. What is the significance that we are observing common elements of design across all of creation? One could spend a lifetime photographing the micro-structures of a single stone or a single seashell. In fact, one has the sense that the entire universe is held in the exquisite micro-structures under observation.


The Artist

Whose hand creates the line?

Whose eye holds the Vision?

Whose heart feels the passion?

Whose finger chooses the color?

Who says it is done?


                                by the artist


Who created this beauty? Is it happenstance solely the product of random molecules being forged in unique ways? Was this beauty created for the perception of emerging consciousness or does the emerging consciousness assign the value of beauty as an affirmation of its own consciousness.

Who created the complex rules that define the processes of how gravity, light, dark matter, protons, energy and electrons interact to create moments that results in such unique perceptions of beauty?


Dennis W. Felty


(Northstar Gallery) Anima Mundi blog cosmic" fine art Northstar Gallery photography sea seashells shells universe Mon, 31 Aug 2020 20:23:21 GMT