Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sitting on a wall can lead to a fall.

( click on image to enlarge )

     Very old, nursery rhymes can sometimes acquire some unexpected, coincidental
relevance to our currant events.   For many frustrated and angry Americans, the
children's rhyme about Humpty Dumpty and his illogical wall, has come to mind again,
during this Trump, government shutdown of the last several weeks.
     That enduring, popular little rhyme dates clear back to the mid fifteenth century,
but its exact reference to a specific person or event has been lost to history.  Over
the passing years, Humpty came to be thought of, and portrayed as a self-obsessed
egg.  Lewis Carroll wrote of him as a character which can be seen as being uncannily
similar to the currant occupant of the White House.  In his Through The Looking 
Glass stories, from 1872, ( with classic illustrations by John Tenniel ) Alice encounters
Humpty Dumpty seated on his wall, and she soon discovers that he has a closed mind,
and that he thinks the truth is whatever he says it is.

             "When I use a word" Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,
     "it means just what I choose it to mean ---neither more nor less."
             "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so
     many different things."
             "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

     For over two years now, Humpty Trumpty has been vowing to make America
backwards again, and doing his best to carry out that vow.   If Lewis Carroll were
alive today, he might be tempted to write a new version of little Alice's strange visit to
Wonderland.  In this modern rewrite, he might tell of the adventures of a new heroine
named Nancy, stepping through the looking glass, into Backwardland, to lead the way
forward to a path of progress.  He would probably write that Humpty will have to
take the offer of Nancy's hand, in order save himself from the fatal fall, off of his castle

     The illustration of Humpty Tumpty, above, is my adaptation of an illustration by
 John Tenniel, for Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass. 


Monday, December 31, 2018

On Wings Of Hope

     As we bid goodbye to another weary year and try to predict what kinds
of difficulties are lying ahead for us, in the next twelve months, there always
remains our one, unfulfilled, universal wish, for this year, and for every new
year.  That wish which never comes true is, of course, the age-old longing
for world peace: peace between nations and peace between all peoples.

     A couple of thousand years ago, there was a teacher and reformer who
gave us the simple but truthful formula to achieve genuine brotherhood and
peace; he said that all we have to do is treat everyone else as we ourselves
want to be treated.  But that message has been conscripted and then ignored
by many, monolithic, religious organizations, all of which see themselves as
the one true religion.   They all declare that anyone who does not agree
with them, is of a non-believing sect, and therefore perhaps subhuman and
unworthy of life on this earth.

     We have learned by their examples, that lasting peace can not be achieved
until we have universal education, based on science and truth, rather than on
rote indoctrination and mythology.  That is a goal which seems evermore
impossible to achieve in all of the many, impoverished, third-world countries
on our planet.  And now, even in our own country, we have the example of
a modern democracy with a currant administration promoting xenophobia,
fear, hatred and ignorance of scientific truth.

     So, where does that leave us in our quest for lasting peace?  We either
have to be optimistic or pessimistic, as to whether peace can ever be achieved,
let alone whether it can be achieved at any time in this century.  The older we
get and the more we see of the world, the more we are forced to lean
evermore toward pessimism.   But to be totally pessimistic is to be dead, or
at least non-functioning.  All that we have left to us, as a middle-ground,
between the two extremes, is just hope, and the determination to keep
speaking the truth.

     As long as hope is alive, we have to keep trying to move forward, each
of us in his or her own way, doing our parts as individuals, and hoping for the
ripple effect to grow and swell, until it touches multitudes, and reverberates
across the globe.

(  There is a painting which was intended to accompany this posting,
but I do not yet have a digital photo of it on file. I will try to remedy that,
and post the picture as soon as I can. )

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Special Private-Investigator In The White House

                                       An original mixed-media on illustration board

     Today, my little four-footed friend, and occasional model, Horatio H. Hamster Esq.,
stopped by the studio for a short visit.  ( Due to his diminutive stature, all of his visits
could be considered short ones, but I'll let that pass. )  It had been months since I had
seen him around our little Kingdom Of The Animals, so I asked him what he had been
up to, or down to, in his case.
     He was not amused by the question.  He said that he had been very busy, doing
some important government work, in his capacity as a private, consulting detective,
working a low-profile investigation.  Such surprising news made me question his
aptitude for that profession.  I asked him if he didn't find himself to be a bit out of his
depth for dealing with criminal masterminds, but he said that, quite to the contrary, he
had inherited an instinct for detective work, because of his namesake, the world famous
detective with whom he shared the name "Holmes".  His response prompted me to ask
if he was referring again, to his middle initial, the solidly variable letter "H", and he did
confirm that his middle-initial stood for the name Holmes.
     That answer shouldn't have surprised me; he always had a different answer for what
his middle initial stood for, depending on what kind of outfit he was wearing at the time.
( Once, during a time when he was playing the role of a magician's assistant, he told me
that his middle initial stood for the name Houdini. )  I should have recognized his Sherlock
persona immediately, because of his appropriate accouterments, including his deer-
stalking hat and his meerschaum pipe.  I asked him if he had known Sherlock Holmes,
and he said he had not known him, but that one of Horatio's distant cousins had once
shared a room on Baker Street, and he seemed to feel that this relationship provided him
with rare insight into criminal matters.
     When I asked him who had hired him for this "important" case of detective work, he
said that the man's name was confidential, but he did reveal the man's last name began
with the letter "M", and that his name rhymed with the word "color".  That intrigued me
enough to ask him what he could reveal about his personal assignment, in this top-secret,
special investigation.  So, after swearing me to secrecy, he said that he had been chosen
to slip into the White-house, without being observed, because of his talent to make
himself seem quite small.  I observed that I thought his size had more to do with his
family heritage, than it did with talent, but he pays little attention to such theatrical
reviews and  critiques.   As for the details of his assignment in the White-house, he
said that Mr. "M" had told him to take his cue from Diogenes, the Ancient Greek
philosopher, and go in on a quest to find an honest man in the White-house.
     Horatio said that he had set out on this important search with determination and
due diligence, but unfortunately found that he had to gain entry to the White-house,
through a hole created by rats.  And then, to make matters worse, once he was inside,
he was nearly trampled to death, by a pack of panicked, fleeing rats, jumping all over
each other in their rush to get out and away, and yelling "Get out! Run! The ship is
sinking! The ship is sinking!".  Horatio said that he had tried to tell them that they were
not on a ship, but that his voice had been drowned out, by the rats,  mad, screaming
scramble, to flee the disaster as quickly as possible.

     At that point, Horatio seemed to want to end his narration of his White-house
search, without further revelations.  So, I asked him whether his mission had reached
a successful conclusion.  Then his bright eyed expression turned sad and dejected, as
he finally had to admit that he had failed in his assignment.  Although he had searched
long and hard, he had never found an honest man in the White-house.
      Reflecting on his failure, he said, "There must have been an honest man in that
confused place somewhere, or else Mr. "M" wouldn't have sent me in there to find him.
But  I had to report back to him, that I hadn't been able to discover where the man
was hiding out, in that treacherous rats-maze of a house."
     "Don't feel too bad about it", I told him.  "Maybe the honest man escaped
before you got out".
     He agreed that my suggestion was a possibility, considering the large number
of people who were rushing to get out of those White-house exits at all hours of
the day and night.
     Before Horatio ended our visit, he asked me to remind everyone in our little
Kingdom Of The Animals, that he would be reprising his role as Bob Cratchit,
in the annual production of Dickens' Christmas Carol, at the quadruped playhouse.

     He is ever the busy, little promoter, isn't he?


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Return Of The Unwelcome Visitor

     I'm sorry to have to issue an updated report on the deteriorating quality of life here in our little Kingdom Of The Animals, particularly here in my own disrupted neighborhood.  For over two years now, the angry bickering among the various species, has been growing louder with each passing day and night.
     As I said previously, the problems have all been created by the arrival of that annoying and repulsive newcomer, Donald John Skunk.  He burrowed himself into the neighborhood a couple of years ago, and he is still hear, spreading his stench wherever he goes.
     I haven't said much lately, about Donald John, ( or as he likes to say, "Don Juan", because he still considers himself to be irresistible to the opposite sex ).  I have been greatly preoccupied with trying to avoid seeing him, or smelling him, or thinking about him, as much as I possibly can.
     Unfortunately, avoiding him completely is impossible, because he is still the same, ever-present and constant plague of self-aggrandizement and pompous disdain for anyone who disagrees with his opinions, even though he himself is hopelessly dim-witted and inept.  Furthermore, he also still continues to go around in the nights, chirping out his favorite bird-calls, but of course even the birds still don't believe his calls, because his chirps are never correct.
     Those of you who are familiar with this blog, may recall that my little thespian friend    (and occasional model ), Horatio Hamster, came by a couple of times, to warn us all, of the consequences of allowing a skunk to become an entrenched resident here.  The first warning, ( which he delivered in his theatrical role as a western sheriff, Horatio Hopalong Hampster ), fell on our deaf ears, whether long or short, or furry or smooth.  Then he gave us the second warning, when he stopped by in costume for his role in Dickens' Christmas Carol, the annual holiday production at the local Quadruped Playhouse.  Donald John Skunk had been chosen to play the lead role of Ebeneezer Scrooge,  because the other members of the cast had naturally assumed that such a self-centered, mean-spirited and greedy individual as Donald, would fit the role perfectly. But of course, Donald had failed miserably, because of his complete lack of experience, and his unwillingness to accept any wise advice.
     I have continued to try and avoid Donald, at all costs.  I never go near his den, which is located in a very tall, hollow tree, and which he proudly calls Skunk Tower, as if he had been personally responsible for planting the seed which grew into the great oak.  The only associates he has there are the equally greedy Vladimir Pig, and a poor, retarded fox, who follows him around like a lap dog, endlessly praising the skunk, while tripping over his own feet and bumping into trees and walls.
     In my attempts to minimize my exposure to the omnipresent, skunk stench, I have continued to keep my doors locked, and I don't respond when Donald rings my bell.  But it is difficult to keep the studio sealed up completely, on such beautiful, autumn days, when the maple trees are all aglow in fiery red and gold brilliance.  So, wouldn't you know it, when I had one window open, along came Donald J. Skunk, poking his head inside, like some grotesque, Halloween pumpkin, to deliver some more of his obnoxious rants and raves.  Fortunately, the window is high enough off of the ground, that he couldn't crawl in, so he just hung on to the window-sill with his tiny claws.
     At first I assumed that he intended to ask me again to paint his portrait.  That is one commission which I have previously declined because I know that I couldn't stand to spend that much time in the same room with him.  But he still persists in in his request, because he likes to be portrayed in a flattering light; he considers himself to be quite the dapper skunk-about-town, with his strawberry-blond beret, and his extra-long, red neck-ties.
     But, this time, he said that he didn't come to request a portrait that day, and that he was having a bad-hair day, anyway.  ( I suppose that was why he was wearing his stupid base-ball cap. )  He said that he was just stopping by to warn everyone to be well armed against the imminent threats of invading, criminal forces,  and to assure everyone that none of the "lying rumors" about his private life and personal hygiene were true.

     And then, without pausing for any questions or rebuttal,  he launched into another endless tirade, about what he sees as the hazards and problems of life here, in our little Kingdom Of The Animals.

              "I am sounding the alarm again, about all of these thieving, foreign animals, who are sneaking into     our neighborhood.......They are coming over our walls and through our fences......They are committing all kinds of crimes......... Those chipmunks down the road, for example, coming into our yards and stealing our acorns........You can tell that they are bad hombres, because their stripes are the wrong colors......Who knows what they're doing at night........And what about those road-runners?.....We need to get them back across the road, where they belong........Along with those ducks, flying into the neighborhood from who-knows-where....... and using our ponds, and stinking up everything.......We need to get them out of here, and make the neighborhood smell great again.......And I'm reminding everyone that all of those rumors going around, that I stink, are fake news.......They're all lies started by some of those shady-lady skunks, over on the  wrong side of the woods...They're all lies, told by some crooked, lying lie-tellers.......None of them are true..........I am the only one who tells the truth........You can believe me.....They should all be caged up, for spreading those fake stories........I'm still going to sue them , someday when I get the time, and get them locked up.....for telling all those lying lies .............."

     Once again, his stench had become so overpoweringly unbearable, that I had heard all that I could stand.  I shut the window while he was still talking, but again I could see that he continued to rant on and on, even after I could no longer hear what he was saying.  Don Juan Skunk still remains so infatuated with the sound of his own voice, that he often fails to notice that no one else is listening.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fair weather fair, and fair farewells

     Last weekend, I participated in another art fair.  Those of you who came by for a visit were greeted by clear skies and moderate temperatures, which was a welcome change from past years.  September seems to be the traditional month for outdoor fairs, in our area, and the weather can often turn freakishly hot or cold, making it an unpleasant experience for fair-goers.   So, luck was with us this time.

     It was a pleasure to see some old friends, and interesting to make the acquaintance of some other artists, for at least one more time, in an outdoor setting.   But my future participation in outdoor exhibitions, remains a question mark.   There comes a time in life, when we must recognize our diminishing capacities to cope with several days of preparation and then installation of a heavy and complex, art, display-booth.   Usually at these fairs, by the time late Sunday afternoon comes around, my energy level has dropped so low that I am only still moving and talking out of  force of habit, rather than with genuinely, thoughtful communication.  Fortunately, I have some wonderful family assistance, and this time, a particularly kind friend helped with the dis-assembly, late, last Sunday.  We were packed up to go, just as the darkness was descending over the evening.

      There was only one sour note to the weekend, when a woman took one of my art prints without paying.  She very deliberately pretended that she had paid, and then hastily made an exit from the fair, along with her family group.  It was not a great loss for me, but the truly sad part of that theft, was the lesson she was teaching the child, who had come into the booth with her, as well as for her other children, who waited for her with her male partner, outside on the periphery, while she demonstrated her thievery    It was another reminder of the general tone of dishonest behavior which has descended on our nation, now that constant lies, deceit and fraud have taken over in our nation's executive mansion,  where our nation's idealism has been tossed into the capitol's, trash cans.

     The particular site, where last weekend's fair was held, reminded me of the long, personal history I have with that area, and the surrounding cultural institutions.  Those surroundings influenced my work in numerous ways, over the years. I recall one painting which would be an example of that long history, from a surprisingly, unique perspective.  I will try to get the painting photographed and post it on the blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Passing Storm

                                        An original acrylics painting, on stretched canvas
                                        18 X 24", unframed

                                      ( This painting is now on view at the Buttonwood Art Space.)
                                                             ( click on image to enlarge )                                      

     Some viewers of this scene, of rain-soaked, prairie grass-lands, may see it as the 
depiction of clearing skies and brighter days ahead, while others may see it as rough 
weather developing, and dark days ahead.  Perhaps that serves as an appropriate 
metaphor for what is happening in our stormy, political climate these days.  Many of us 
are wishing that the disastrous storms would go away, but we know that they will not 
go peacefully.
     During our last national elections, one nominee proclaimed that he would "drain the
swamp", but as it turned out, he took the swamp with him, to Washington.  We all 
depend on the United States government, to look after the safety and health of all our
citizens, but the man who was chosen to head the Environmental Protection Agency, 
had gone to the capitol, specifically to destroy that agency.  That disgusting man was
finally forced from office, when his habits of using public funds for his personal self-
aggrandizement were revealed, but not before he had done a lot of what he set out
to do.  
     Now we hear that he changed the ruling against the further use of a powerfully 
toxic insecticide, in this country, so that Dow Chemical can now continue to increase 
its billions in profits, by spraying the nations orchards with their poisons.  We can all
agree that all insecticides are poisons, but what we disagree about is the amount of
such poisons we are able to take into our systems every day, without doing any
significant damage to our nervous systems.  The poison in question is the original, 
powerful ingredient in the spray known as Raid.  After that poison was banned 
from home use, because of probable hazard to our health, Dow had to eliminate
that poison from the formula in their home products.  But now they get to continue
spraying the country's orchards with that poison. 
     So now, for the foreseeable future, it seems that we will continue to serve 
our children their fruit with Raid sauce.  
     And the storm clouds will continue to darken each day.  .   

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Tallgrass Indian Summer

                                  An original acrylics painting, on stretched canvas
                                  12 X 24", unframed
                                 ( This painting is now on view at the Buttonwood Art Space. )                    
                                                           ( click on image to enlarge )

      Most Americans are familiar with the unexpected weather stretches, which are
commonly called Indian summers.  That name generally refers to an unusually warm
period of days, in late autumn, following regular nights of deep freezes, which have frosted
and bleached the landscape, and put the earth to sleep for the winter.  But now that the
global weather system is becoming ever more erratic, and unpredictable, unseasonable,
weather conditions, which we used to think of as rare, are becoming every day events.
We see the results of these, increasingly deadly, weather events in our newspapers and
on television every day now, and many of us experience the traumas first hand.

     Right now, the states along the eastern side of our country, are experiencing record-
breaking, torrential rains and flooding, forcing people to evacuate their homes and
businesses, and causing severe economic damages.  While at the same time, in our
drought-stricken, western states, the record-breaking, uncontrollable, wild fires, are
sweeping over thousands of acres of land, consuming hundreds of homes, as well as
the people who are getting trapped and are unable to escape the intense fury of the
deadly, fire storms.    California used to have a period of the year which they referred
to as the fire season, but global warming has changed that.  Now they say the fire
season is the whole year long.

     The American Plains Indians had a name for the uncontrollable and unstoppable
wild fires, which sometimes swept across the prairies, in great, long waves.   They called it
Red Buffalo, because of the similarities to the uncontrollable and unstoppable nature of
the enormous herds of bison, which could sweep across the land and over everything in
their paths, in a massive tide of horns and hooves.

     The Indians considered themselves to be a part of the earth and everything on it.
For them, the concept of taking ownership of the earth, and then polluting and spoiling it
because of greed, was unthinkable.  It would not have occurred to them, to ruinously
exploit their mother earth for nothing but monetary profit.  But unfortunately, we have not
been such good custodians of the earth.  Every day we are pumping more and more
green-house gasses into our atmosphere.  And now comes word from our administration,
of plans to cut back on the new standards of control for auto-exhaust, air-pollution,
in order to increase car sales.   Perhaps this administration needs a first-hand, up-close-
and-personal encounter with the Red Buffalo.