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.          


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Last Toll Of The Old School-bell

                                                    An original acrylics painting, on gesso primed panel
                                                    18 X 10, unframed

                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )

     Several postings on this blog, have expressed thoughts about our difficulties related to
weather and climate problems.  There is an old saying that says everyone talks about the
weather, but nobody does anything about it.  But unfortunately, that is no longer true.  We
are doing a lot about our weather, and almost all that we have done is wrong  -- wrong for
our spaceship Earth, and very wrong for us.  As global warming increases, our weather
extremes will continue, producing ever greater "natural disasters" every year.  And the
financial catastrophe of trying to escape from things like rising sea levels, will be an over-
whelming burden for our future generations.

     In my last posting, I talked a bit about the early pioneers who settled on our treeless,
western prairies, and the kinds of physical and emotional adjustments they had to make,
in order to survive.  And now I wonder what kinds of adjustments lie ahead for all of us
to face.  The old school-bell is tolling for us all, but we're not listening.
     The preliminary painting I showed in that posting, had this old stone school-house, in
the prairie grasslands of the Flint Hill of Kansas, as its subject.  I have shown it here, in a
more fully developed version. I imagine that this will probably be the final one.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

They Dreamed Of Trees

                                            An original acrylics painting, on gesso primed, wood panel
                                            10 X 18", unframed
                                            $300.00, - ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

                                                               ( click on image to enlarge )

     Several of my recent posts on this blog, have discussed some of the issues we are
facing, with the changes in our weather patterns, here in the middle of the country.
These problems are undoubtedly going to intensify, as global warming continues our
glacial meltdown.  The experts have warned us, that the frequency and intensity of
our weather extremes, are only going to increase, and the evidence becomes more
easy for us to see and feel, with every new weather-related disaster.  Our descendants
may have to live on a planet that we would not be able to recognize, if there is still
a planet then, where life is possible for them.

     That thought is a reminder of some of the physical and psychological difficulties
which the early pioneers faced, when they first arrived on the treeless prairies of
the western territories.  Those early settlers had no woodlands to provide lumber
for them to use to build houses, or wood to burn for fuel.  So, they had to build their
shelters from the very earth itself, making sod-houses or even burrowing into hill-sides
to escape the winter's blasts, while burning buffalo chips for their fuel.  And then, in
the blistering days of summer heat-waves, such as the one we are experiencing now,
they were faced with that vast, wide-open panorama of the cloudless sky, without
a tree in sight, to offer them life-giving shade.

     This painting is based on another example of settlers using what they could find
as building materials.  Perched on the rise of that prairie hill, is an old school-house
built of stone.  There is a portion of the tall-grass prairie lands, called the Flint Hills,
which was never plowed because of the stone content of the soil, so the native
prairie survived as ranch-lands, and early ranch-houses were sometimes built of
stone as well.

    The days are long gone, when school boys rode their horses to the old school,
but perhaps the prairie winds still echo with the sound of the old school bell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Some Scents Of Spring

                                                   An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                                   20 X 16" unframed
                                                   $400.00, - ( plus $35.00, pack & ship )

                                                            ( click on image to enlarge )

     Now, as I look at this painting again, I see that I should have included an object
of easily identifiable size, in order to provide a good idea of the scale of these items.
The bouquet is actually a small bunch of wild-phlox, blossom-clusters, with some pink
azaleas, which happened to be blooming at the same time, in our area.
     The cat is an equally, small-scale object.  It is one of the little, hand-me-down,
cat figurines, here at the studio, which have very undistinguished, porcelain pedigrees.
( They were probably cranked out by the thousands, in Japan, following the second
world war. )  However, they do come in handy, as still-life objects, so they sometimes
come and go, in my paintings, about as silently and aloof as their real-life counterparts.

     The title I have given the painting, is a bit of a word-play, with a duel reference to
flower fragrance, and our crazy weather this spring.  The scent of the flowers in this
little bouquet, was not strong, but a cat would no doubt be very aware of its presence.
I even considered calling the painting Scents And Scent-ability. ( My apologies to
Jane Austin, for the bad pun, on the title of her novel Sense And Sensibility. )
The other reference to word-play, is that the usual pronunciations of the words scents
and sense, can sound the same, so the title can sound like Some Sense Of Spring.
Taken that way, the title expresses the wish for a normal weather pattern in our area
of the country, where we were not given a real taste of spring this year.  We have
jumped abruptly from long lingering, winter blasts into mid-summer heat, months
before such high temperatures normally settle in on us.
     Mother Nature does enjoy her cruel jokes.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Daffodil Dreams

                                                An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                                20 X 16". unframed
                                                ( This painting will be in an upcoming exhibition at
                                                Buttonwood Art Space, and will not be available
                                                on this site until that show closes. )

                                                            ( Click on image to enlarge. )

     Daffodils are a member of the narcissus family, which according to ancient Greek
mythology, lined the banks of the River Styx, where Hades, the god of the underworld
ruled.  This year, in the American heartland, the flower's long association with death,
seems to have held another, prophetic warning about life's unpredictability here.
Spring may not have died, but she certainly went AWOL.  Winter has held claim on
us, right up to the onset of summer weather.  Here in the center of the continent,  the
Arctic cold fronts, and the warm fronts coming up from the gulf, are constantly battling
for control, and the people and their tender plants suffer from the fall-out.  So, with
Mother Nature being so fickle, it is always a toss-up, as to how much of spring's
annual, flower show will survive.  April even served up a couple of snow-falls and
deep freezes for us, after flowers and trees were already in bloom.

    A majority of the people in this country are not native Americans, they are the
descendants of immigrants from other lands, as are our daffodils.  But these bulbs
have proved to be a hardy breed.  Early pioneer women, who traveled from the
east coast, to settle the Ozarks, carried the bulbs with them, and planted them in
front of their cabins, to have a touch of home.  Now those early, crude cabins are
gone, and the worn-out land has often been reclaimed by woodlands, but each
spring, the bright, yellow flowers sprout up again, to mark the place where hopes
ran high.

   The daffodils here at the studio, were well budded-out when they were twice
blanketed by snow-falls.  I was quite surprised, when I saw that many had survived
the bitter onslaught, and opened up, bright and cheerful, after the snow melted.
Such loyal endurance seemed to call for a painted tribute to the ongoing magic
and mystery of these mythological, fellow travelers.   This painting was the result
of that call.