Sam Guarnaccia: In December, 2011, I attended an art opening of Sally Linder’s new series, Approaching a Threshold, where Gus Speth, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and environmental advisor to two presidents, was keynote speaker. Paintings from the Threshold series are now at the NRDC world headquarters in NYC as iconic representatives of the natural world in its struggle against the ravages of human induced environmental degradation. After being a short time in the presence of the Bears, I told Sally that I was hearing music… that they were bringing forth waves, melting glaciers, rivers, oceans of sound. We immediately found ourselves in a spirit of collaboration, realizing that the paintings were seeking a voice, as if the Bears wished to tell their story in songs without words, in a language without symbols. In Sally’s words: “One of the ultimate goals is to get the viewer to pause, to reflect, to question, and certainly to fall in love. Because I think love is really powerful and is going to bring you to action. I strongly believe that once you love something, of course you’re going to take care of it.” And when the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20th, 2010, “I was just wrapping up my research and was arriving at my own understanding that the bear and global warming were interconnected, but that people — my species — didn’t seem to grasp this.”
The Threshold music will be an overture for the ‘Approaching a Threshold’ series, and a series of solo and choral rhapsodies with instrumental accompaniment, songs without words, for these indescribably beautiful and irreplaceable animals who stand for all of us, and who have not stopped loving their world, even as it is leaving them.
-Sam Guarnaccia


This love of life with its contrast and balance of agonies and ecstasies prompts both activism and playfulness in my work. The paintings chronicle a quest for a better and more conscience driven world and my passion ecomes their purpose and content.

Painting in series provides the opportunity to be immersed in each subject’s distinct, emotive language conveyed through choice of color, form, and mark. Particularly in the more representational work, this immersion is linked to considerable research for each series involving historical, scientific and spiritual elements. It is from this deepening well that the layers of paint emerge on the canvas, paper or drafting film. The images that are inspired become symbols of a compassionate, participatory commitment to life. This vision provides us with the opportunity to turn around so that we may know who the others are and our connection to them. So evolves an intimate partnership between artist, subject, canvas, and viewer.

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Gendron, Maggie (Leahy) Leahy’s executive assistant Maggie Gendron’s comment on the paintings.

“That one day your paintings may sadly stand to be a historical reference of Polar Bears, or they may be a “what if we had listened” type memorandum. I hope not, but that is the profound impact your art had on me – while the Polar Bear is the face of all that may be lost if we don’t focus on our commitment to the environment.”

“Senator Leahy once told me that the tremendous value of art is to contemplate a painting or examine an original manuscript or composition, and then to have gained a greater understanding of both the artist and the subject as a result. I thought of that quote when I was looking at your portfolio.”