Monhegan Windmills, Aesthetic and Practical—
Thursday, March 02, 2017 11:59 AM
What threatens our island more than its dependence on fossil fuels? We still truck hundreds of gallons of the stuff over rocky terrain and store it over our incredibly fragile aquifer! Reducing our addiction to fuel is paramount for the preservation of our “cherished way of life.”
Some people honestly believe the tourists and artists will stop coming to Monhegan because of a couple of elegant gull-wing wind-turbines over two miles away! Won’t visitors be more discouraged from coming when an eventual, inevitable fuel spill destroys the water table and every drop of water for bathing, drinking, cleaning and cooking thereafter will have to be imported? How expensive will that be for our community? What will that do to our “cherished way of life” and the perception of our so-called “ecologically and visually pristine” setting?
I have walked among thousands of giant gull-wing turbines — forests of them planted on the acreage of Texas ranches and California deserts. I have visited them on the tiny, energy-indpendent Hebridean Island of Eigg, in Scotland. I must tell you from these personal experiences that there is no way the sound of two windmills is going to be objectionable, or even audible, over two miles of ocean. That fear is preposterous in the extreme. You could probably place thousands of them at that distance and never hear them.
As for visual appeal, that is a matter of opinion — and you are welcome to yours — but I think wind turbines are beautiful! First of all, they represent inexpensive, green energy and the preservation of our “ecologically and visually pristine” setting and “cherished way of life.” But their aesthetic appeal goes way beyond what they symbolize.
Windmills are traditionally beautiful objects of art, since the time of the great Dutch masters. Speaking as a professional Monhegan artist, and the grandson of one of Monhegan’s most iconic artists ever, I think modern energy windmills are as intrinsically beautiful and elegant, by design, as any of their quaint ancestors in Holland. Form follows function breathtakingly, as those graceful, white airfoils leisurely orbit on the horizon, echoing the wheeling of the graceful seagulls they are inspired by. Stunning.
Also, positioning these exquisite kinetic sculptures at two miles situates them perfectly for artists — far enough away to suggest scale and vast perspective in your paintings, but still close enough to discern and utilize their charm. Plus, as with anything a painter does — if they don’t work with your particular composition, just don’t include them. It’s art, after all!
IMO, the wind turbines being proposed offshore of Monhegan could not only be a life-sustaining boon for Monhegan’s community and the Monhegan way of life, they will be a valuable aesthetic asset, as well.
I predict that the same types of folks whining about seeing wind turbines in the distance from Monhegan now will whine again in the future. When the project has lived out its full lifespan, and it is time to take down these windmills, a great hue and cry from the same old crowd will arise again to defend “our traditional Monhegan way of life,” shouting: “Save Our Windmills!!”
Mark my words.
Jon Bogdanove, North Hollywood, CA