July 28, 2009

On jackson pollock

I've never been a fan of his work, but like most people who've taken far too many art classes down through the years I have had to study his work and creative process. This evening I watched the ed harris film pollock. I have seen it playing on movie channels, here and there, but never actually watched it until tonight. A few things about the film struck me.

One is the creative process itself. Whatever your medium, we have all been through this. There is a scene in the movie where harris as pollock sits and stares at a blank canvas until his idea kicks in. This is the same for everything you do that flows from your mind. I've stared at wood, stone, clay, blank computer screens, and the floor... waiting for it to kick in. Where do you find it? What motivates you? There is no answer.

There are a couple of lines from the movie I liked. One scene finds pollock's girlfriend going on and on about his work with a technical eye, pointing out what it is that he is doing. Where he is using the influences he has had, and how he is relating to the world around him, and labeling each color and stroke he is putting on the canvas with the eye of a well trained art critic. Pollock, smoking a bent cigarette while he paints, looks over at her with a disgusted expression and says, "I'm just painting." This same thought is summed up later in the film when he says, "If people would just look at the paintings, I don't think they would have any trouble enjoying them. It's like looking at a bed of flowers, you don't tear your hair out over what it means."

This taps into one of my personal philosophies...

"Leave the artist alone"

No matter what the work consists of or how it is done, you have no idea what the motivating factor behind it is. To recognize principles you may have heard of or learned about in some sort of class is a "good for you" scenario. The same goes with labels, if you recognize the influence of something in the writing or painting you are looking at, good for you.. But that's not what the art is about... Take each piece on it's own, the merit of a single work stands within itself, regardless of the labels that can be applied to it... The same pretty much goes for everything in life... The best works mean something different to each person that experiences it. Whether it's a song, a painting, a novel or whatever... when you can see it, listen to it, or read it and make it your own, it has succeeded.. This is also why I tell my kids repeatedly when we are at a show, whether it's at a gallery, a museum, or even an arts & craft fair... "Save the opinions until we are gone" the saddest person in the world is an artist attending his own showing...

"Let each thing in life be judged according to it's own merits"

Vampires... When watching the movie my son was asking questions about the people surrounding pollock.. Why he put so much stock in what they said or did. Pollock was weak, just as we all are. He looked for acceptance from his family and from the "art world" more than he was willing to admit. That's a vicious cycle we are all guilty of at times... He fell victim to the first thing that happens when you create something, the "why don't you" syndrome... Usually the first thing said when someone sees your work, is money... "Why don't you sell this at/on..." We all dream of making a living from our creative abilities, this rarely happens, and if it does it's a blessing... Just ask any professional athlete... The danger comes when we weaken ourselves in order to move in circles we think will move our career forward. This is dangerous in that we will most times lower our standards for the sale. The vampires will move in and begin to take over your existence... The worst of these is the dread critic... Just be thankful for a sale if it happens and move on. The power of creation is not within the money that could be made, but within the center of our own being when you are personally satisfied with what you have done... you are your own worst critic, why listen to someone else. Another type of vampire that attaches itself to you comes in the classification of idiot. These are the people that like what you do and seek to make themselves a part of it by any means they can. Avoid these parasites at all costs. They bring nothing but destruction. Their hearts are small and mean, they live only to see the crash at the car race, whether they will admit it to themselves or not. They can be spotted easily when they begin to imitate what you do... or label your work with condescension masking jealousy... "It's so crafty"

"Vampires usually exist because they can't do it themselves, so they become like a mass of gnats that you must continually swat to keep going... mere bugs"

The eternal question... Does the best art come from a self destructive person... No. As shown in this film, when pollock's wife removed the vampires that brought with them "fun times" (read alcohol) his work excelled. There is a certain appeal to the bugs of a two fisted drinking, whore bedding, loud, brash creative force, often labeled "larger than life"... (More aptly labeled, "Dead"...) A drunken idiot is just that, a drunken idiot.. There is nothing appealing to me about a drunk adulterer. Keep your ass out of the bars and your penis in your pants...

"Talent is a rare thing and drawn from many places, some use vice, some use nothing... for them.. it's just there..."

I would imagine that pollock could have created more works had he not ended up here after a drunken, adulterous rampage... Shame we will never know...

"even in death the bugs pester the man with drink"

July 26, 2009

Oak Walking Stick...

We have several shows coming up soon and it's time to get the inventory in order, so this weekend was devoted to the completion of this piece. A while back I went out searching for new pieces to work on. I came across an oak tree with a sizable limb that had been brought down in a storm. I spent a half hour cutting this piece from the debris. The walking stick is very solid, about four feet in length. The carved portion of the walking stick measures about eighteen inches. The tree had been damaged some time back and with the recent lack of rain we have had, the wood had plenty of time to dry out & harden.. it was quite difficult to cut... solid as.. well... oak...

July 25, 2009

The laughing heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

July 24, 2009

Socially inept...

The many theorems tossed at us revolving around socialization of the human condition seem to have one basis in logical thought. They are all pretty much grounded in fecal matter. Predestination begins to look like a more logical route when you sit down and read through a psychology text book. Granted I'm no David Myers, but one doesn't have to look much farther than the nearest social networking site to see what's going on...

People are bored, lazy, and lonely...

There is absolutely no way that anyone can convince me that this list put out by google is correct... It's purported to be the top ten most searched phrases for 2008...
  1. sarah palin
  2. beijing 2008
  3. facebook login
  4. tuenti
  5. heath ledger
  6. obama
  7. nasza klasa
  8. wer kennt wen
  9. euro 2008
  10. jonas brothers
Sarah Palin was number one? What the hell? I am willing to bet three dollars cash that "blowjob" beat out Sarah Palin... Based on the search criteria that people have entered to get to this blog it's astounding to me that the majority of the world's population isn't doing time in a nervous hospital, wrapped tightly in a special coat...

I believe that people whitewash everything they put out there, for a multitude of reasons. Whether it's to make themselves seem more important than they really are or a lame ass attempt to convince themselves that their lives are more exciting than sleep, work, car, couch... with an occasional debauch thrown in for soul cleansing..

The most clarifying thing about the internet to me is that it forces us to be self aware. When videos of an ugly woman singing, or people dancing down the aisle at a wedding become the most watched things in the underworld of the internet, you see how badly people are hurting for entertainment... Everything morphs into the same thing around here, blogs all look alike, taking the shape of social networking pages, ads creep in on everything from the tony robins crowd of binaca armed socialites trying to make a buck from anything while convincing us that they are the height of suave sophistication. My cynicism allows me just enough time when dealing with most people face to face to entertain a brief fantasy of either bedding them or smacking them in mouth before I start looking for the nearest exit...

There simply seems to be a lack of general honesty about whats what. People are pretty trashy, accept it. Sometimes you desire to sit in a quiet room pondering your next move on the chess board, while at other times you want to be screaming down a back road at 120 miles per hour on a motorcycle while a hooker with one leg and bottle of mezcal holds on to you for dear life as she screams, "I'm gonna make you squirm like a scared virgin" in your good ear...

You watch people praise god one second and ask for the ky lube that heats up in the next breath. Why the dichotomy? Do we all have the desire to be both sweaty whore and wholesome family oriented guy? Of course we do.... That's where it gets lost...

There is nothing that is new. Each news story that you see has been shown before. People shot students at a school in Texas back in the twenties, 1906 saw some of the worst natural disasters of human history from earthquakes to category five hurricanes, a whole list of dumbasses ran for president down through the years, the economy has grown & tanked more times than you can imagine. It's all been done... Yet we treat each celebrity's death with awe, each war with surprise and each asinine remark a politician makes with shock...

You can't sit down with someone anymore and just have an old fashioned conversation. Everybody is suspicious, webs are cast to catch flies, backs are checked constantly for knives, deceit is the order of the day & dealing out pain for no reason has become a sport. People smile right at you, then run to the next room to make fun of you, why? It's boring...

I generally can't talk to people... When you meet me I stare at the floor... I rarely speak. But it's me.. I'm honest about it. I can be at home at a cookout where people are so drunk they can't speak, or with people who can't read above a Dr Seuss level, or with people that can quote entire sections of works on string theory.. and understand it... The only time I get truly uncomfortable is when I'm around people that aren't honest about themselves.

Someone gave me a hard time once because I don't go anywhere socially. I stay home. I despise crowds, I read, I watch movies, I actually enjoy spending time with my family... To have good music playing and be creating something while getting irritated with the noise being generated by the kids, is a good time to me. Going for a quiet drive to acquire a ridiculously expensive cup of coffee brings me solace. A long ride through the woods on the Kawasaki mule calms my soul. But sometimes I do wonder where that one legged hooker is hiding...

July 23, 2009

I'm old & now I'm in danger....

Tonight I went on the first drive with Patrick behind the wheel.... He is fifteen and the proud owner of a new learners permit...

We drove up the road to Hopson's and back a few times so he could get used to handling the car. He did good. He is used to driving the Kawasaki mule, which is a bit more difficult to handle than a car, so he should do fine.

As you can see he has had a few mishaps with the mule... but under threat of death he has done well since then.

The passing of time is doing exactly as my father told me it would. "When you are a kid it stands still and you can't wait for things that never seem to get there... As you get older it perks up and takes off, leaving you wondering what in the hell happened."

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was getting my license, afraid of everything and nervous about what was coming around the next curve. Now I'm much older and afraid of everything...

July 19, 2009

Growing up in Newnan

There used to be this little place to eat here in Newnan that never changed. They had the same waitresses and same menu for the entire time they existed. I never saw a written menu, they would just walk up to your table and stare blankly as they recited what they had, which never changed... "We got steak, stewed beef, fried chicken, barbecue.." The people that worked there were nice and the place was a mess. We went there every now and again, I always got the same thing.. A large steak plate, sweet tea, and peach cobbler for dessert.. The brunswick stew and barbecue was pretty good too.

Whether they simply decided not to open up one day or were forced to close down by the health department I don't know.. neither would surprise me. We went there quite a bit when I was young. Like most places in town that we went to my parents would always run into someone they knew and spend a few minutes talking to them. Right after Julie and I were married we went there on Saturdays and enjoyed the food. I always got a kick out of the people that worked there. When you paid for the meal you stood next to the kitchen, which was a step or two down from the main floor. Like the waitresses, the kitchen staff never changed... The same older black women worked there for as long as I can remember, the one with the big smile and the red bandanna always said hello and asked about my parents every time I saw her.

We drove over there one Saturday to get some lunch and it was closed... A few days later some one told us they were out of business. I miss it because of the unchanging nature of the place, and they actually cooked the vegetables.. Regardless of what I'm told about the benefits of crunchy vegetables.. I like mine cooked for a long time.

Before we had any children, there was a little place within a mile of us that we would eat at called Bo's.. The place was open late so we would leave our house at odd hours and go there to get rid of the munchies, there was just nothing better at two a.m. than a Bo's steak burger with mushrooms... They closed down as well.. Every now and again I still drop by Wishbone fried chicken in town and get a box of tri-taters and sit out on the "party deck" to eat them. Wishbone and Dairy Queen are the only two places still in town from my childhood.

When we were little we would occasionally go with my mother to pick up dinner... I still recall those rides in that old station wagon. This was before you had to wear seat belts and spent the time in the car jumping from the middle seat over to the back seat that was revealed when you flipped up the floor of the storage area.. Or you would ride on the tailgate... could you imagine the calls to 911 if you road all over town with a bunch of kids sitting on a lowered tailgate these days? We would go to KFC and stare out of the back window at the huge bucket on top of the sign, imagining it full of enormous pieces of chicken... Or we would sit at the wooden picnic tables at Perry's burger basket on Temple Ave while mom got the burgers and fries, or we would watch the guy stoking the fire at Duncans barbecue at the intersection of Roscoe road and Jackson street... But I always hated to hear the dread words, "Honey.. go me a plenty burger" come from my dad... That meant a trip to the dairy bar.. I never liked the dairy bar... The onion rings were ok, but I never felt too good after a meal from there...

These places come and go... Much like everything in life. I think about how much fun it would be for me to take my kids to Kessler's to the toy department upstairs, or to try on new clothes at Temple Ave department store, or to the Alamo theater to see a movie.. I think that's part of the reason I enjoy taking the kids to Scott's bookstore on the square... Because I went there with my mother and as a kid, I always enjoyed it... Or why I like to just walk into Morgan's jewelers to look around for a bit. You simply can't beat small businesses like these for customer service.. Man.. I wish Dr. Natt was still around...

These days we meet every Saturday morning at the redneck gourmet for breakfast... This morning I was standing out front of the place looking around the square after we ate. I thought back to when I was James age and would have been irritating my dad to head over to the pawnshop, or jumping up and down at moms feet letting her know that I would surely die if we didn't hurry up and get over to Kessler's to see the toys...

Hell, we weren't much older than James back when mom would dump us out on the court square on Saturday morning and yell out of the car window that we had better be right there when the courthouse clock struck a certain time... I shudder at the thought of doing that now..

People and places drift in and out of our lives, recalled when we smell freshly mowed grass, or hear a certain laughter.. Some things you miss, some things you're glad to be rid of..

You look at your kids and think about the things they see and do.. I wonder to myself what aspects of their lives at this point that are they going to remember.. Are they going to carry anything with them the way I have... The things that are so incredibly important to me in my life and memory, they will never know. That makes me sad at times, but it also fills me with an excitement about seeing and hearing from them about the things they recall when they get older..

I was sitting on the tailgate of the kawasaki mule this evening watching James and his cousin digging in the dirt with shovels and said to Julie, as an older James, "We had this huge pile of dirt that was under these gigantic trees that we used to play in with our toys..." I flashed on the enormous slide that was at Elm street elementary school when I was in the first grade.. The one I was afraid to go down because it was like 40 forty feet high & had a hump in the middle so that you would surely be thrown off if you went over it too fast... The last time I was at that playground I marveled that the very same double slide I was so frightened of then... only comes up to my chin....

Friday night football games at Drake stadium, the lunch counter at Lee Kings, the army surplus stuff at the pawn shop, banana splits from dairy queen, the old guys playing checkers at the courthouse, the go carts in the window at Johnson's hardware, red "suckers" from Dr. Natts office, the Christmas lights strung from the top of the court house down to each corner of the square, fourth of July parades, laying coins on the train tracks at the old depot, peeking through the windows at brown steel, Earline Scott asking what book you wanted, swimming at the Elks club, playing basketball and watching church softball at the rec department, playing hide & seek & chasing lightning bugs through the neighborhood...

These were all good things...

July 16, 2009


On my drive into work there is a place I go by called Dunaway Gardens. The road in front of the place is a bit curvy and provides no clear view of what is ahead. That's what I kept telling myself was the reason for it.

Just as I was approaching the gate for the Gardens, I saw a dog walking alongside the road, it was a German Shepard. Walking just behind this dog were three small puppies. I slowed down and moved over a bit to give them room. I'm no big fan of pets, but I still enjoy looking at them. The puppies were solid black and stocky. Taking a guess I would have to say that they were definitely sired by a rottweiler. That took me back several years to when we owned a female rottie named Niki. They are are a great breed of dog, we had a great time with Niki.

I watched the dogs little barrel bodies wobbling around following their mother in a line, they looked well fed and well taken care of and were small and fat just as puppies should be. I smiled to myself thinking back to when we brought Niki home and then went on to think about some of the things she had done. We had some people over once and one of the guys started looking for his newly opened pack of cigarettes he had placed on the floor.. We had just watched Niki eat the entire pack in two or three big bites... One of her favorite things to do when she was full grown was to wait for me to fall asleep in the recliner and get a running start in the kitchen and jump on my lap.. a speeding one hundred pound dog landing on top of you is not a fun way to wake up...

The dogs were walking by the road around a huge oak tree with dirt around the bottom and no grass... The little puppies were working their way through the root configuration with some difficulty and kicking up some dust as they went.. That sight took me back to being a kid and playing with different toys around the base of the trees in our front yard and at my grandparents house... I had built countless forts and hot wheel towns in and around the root configurations of many trees in my day.

I had slowed down to a crawl as I watched the dogs doing the frolic walk behind their mom seemingly without a care in the world.. I began to turn the car into the oncoming curve that would take me to the bridge over the creek that is the boundary for Dunaway, feeling comfortable with the thought that I would be bathing in memories of my childhood for the remainder of the drive. I pressed the gas pedal and began to take the curve when I looked in the rear view mirror for a last glimpse of the puppies that had brought me to my memories..

I watched in amazement as they stepped out into the road and were plowed over by a truck traveling far over the posted speed limit.

I was treated to the horrible vision of the dogs last few seconds of life as I slowed my car down to begin the death stare with the amorphous asshole driving the truck. He was obviously in a big hurry, as he tailgated me through the next couple of curves in the road and over the bridge. We had cleared the bridge and started up the long straight shot to the next curve when he attempted to pass me. As his truck drew even with my car I matched his speed, not allowing him to pass me. He went faster and I went faster staying up with him. When we reached the next curve he began to slow down and fall behind me. I slowed my car down to take the curve and saw the store I was headed to so I could fill up with gas. I was sure to slow my speed down to about fifteen as I made my way to the turn off for the store and kept my stare up with the guy driving the truck, hoping he was going to stop at the store as well. He continued on through the next curve as I made a right turn into the parking lot of Roscoe General Store... But he showed how tough he was and I was forced to bow down to his superior wit and obvious ability to beat my ass... Yes .. he flipped me off as he drove away...

I filled my gas tank in silence and said nothing to the lady inside as I paid for the gas. I drove the remainder of the commute in silence. I parked the car at work and went inside to go about my daily duties... This day much the same as each day around it... I thought neither of the dogs or of the memories of my childhood for the rest of the day. Instead of heading home in that direction I found myself taking the alternate route through Whitesburge to get home. The only thing that had filled my mind was the look on the guys face as he flipped me off.

I thought about that guy most of the night and I began to ponder his mindset. I'm quite sure he went about his day not bothered by what he had done, somehow justifying his actions to himself. There was no other traffic, and the dogs were plainly visible, I'm sure he could have done exactly as I had and avoided them. True.. there is a leash law in place and the dogs shouldn't have been loose... but come on... I believe this selfish way of thinking and living has now become the norm. You can twist and distort reality to fit any version you desire and then tell people this until you yourself believe it... This is a sad way to live, and the victims that are left in it's wake did nothing to deserve what has been wrought on the forge of selfishness you have built... What a sad thing to be forced to deal with. People truly have no grasp of what they do.....

July 11, 2009

Five feet of vine staff...

I completed it this morning, it's five feet tall, and poplar... Light weight and very strong. Perfect for hiking.

July 06, 2009

The wizard's staff is complete...

On June 14th I posted an entry about the process of creating a wizard's staff from scratch using a pine tree from near here... This is the completed piece. I decided to use a design with three faces on it that I liked. The carving itself is about eighteen inches in length, with the entire staff being just under six feet in height. It took a bit longer than I would have liked but I think the result was worth the wait...

The design for the wizard's staff was inspired in part on a carving I saw on a rolling pin, and by this work that I completed earlier in the year. This is a 12 inch basswood carving..

July 04, 2009

July 4th 2009.... FREEDOM

Today is the day that our Independence is celebrated...

The one word you wont hear much today is freedom.

The country was founded on the premise that we should all be free. Of course at the time freedom was best left reserved for property holding , older white gentlemen... Yet I have always felt that some sort of providence was at work in the wording of our founding documents.

I hold close to me the thought that where human beings are concerned freedom is an inevitability...

It is a horrific process, full of violence and blood.. Insurrection is the order of the day. Indeed, when our own freedom was won from England, only one third of the people here in the colonies wanted it.. One third fought against it and the last third didn't give a damn either way...

Freedom is a long sought for and seldom won thing. Societies have been destroyed in seeking it out because the other inevitability when it comes to humans being involved in anything, is the "cluster fuck factor".. There is always going to be someone who follows the mindset of money and power is the way to go for themselves and be damned what others want or need.

Micro analysis of the process we went through in gaining our freedom will reveal many flaws and backward moments that arm chair hindsight will cause many to shake their heads at. Which is of course true with any situation...

Freedom is a simple thing to possess and amazingly difficult to hold on to. We wantonly vote our freedoms away in many names... "Security", "Peace", "for the children"... there are many labels which are used yet we forget the most important thing that keeps freedom in place.. failure.. Failure and the ability to pick yourself up and try again until you succeed.. That is the basis of basic freedom..

The desire to keep freedom with us coupled with the agreement to die for it is a powerful tool indeed... There aren't many situations in which "taking to the streets" actually helps... When you see something that you think must be changed the most effective way to do it is by working from within that system... the only thing you really get from protesting in public is a traffic jam and if pushed too hard, dead people... neither of which really pushes your cause too far along the ladder toward completion.. When an entire society is oppressed there comes a time when armed insurrection is the only way.. but those times are few and far between and, as is shown throughout the third world, only really ever sets up warlords...

The cynics look at this day as "closet patriotism" when most people are looking to dust off flags and wave them at parades while awaiting the fireworks... To me.. I don't care.. Even if it's one day a year, I still enjoy the sight of many flags waving and being worn.

I think about the number of people who gave everything for freedom, from property to their very lives... To me it's like voting... Cynics will say "the lesser of two evils" or "your vote doesn't really count" yet I feel I have to vote... I think of people like Alice Paul and know that I can not stay away from the voting booth simply in honor of sacrifices like the ones she made for that right.

I place myself in a field standing alongside other people who's homes were being destroyed, families murdered, livestock butchered, and money taken away in the form of unfair taxation. I imagine staring at a group of people who were ordered to kill me because I want to be free. I smell the cordite, blood and fear of that day. I see them approach and I imagine the abject terror of looking at 50 caliber rifles aimed at me, and I still stand firm. I think of the lyrics to the Scottish tune that will forever haunt me:

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground
I’ll not be afraid
Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me
Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Where before many more have gone

Am I a romantic simpleton who cries when I think of these things and hears this song? You bet your ass I am...

So embedded cynicism aside, I will proudly wave my flag today and watch my small hometown's cheesy little parade.. And when the soldiers come by I will cheer and scream for them as loud as I can.. Am I willing to die for my freedom? Absolutely... As much as I am ready to die for my family and my friends...

Enjoy this day, think of why we celebrate it... pay no attention to the cynics.. let them laugh at you, let them speak the terms and phrases of the clever cynics who know better, let them suffer smugness...

Me? I shall enjoy the pride I feel today, I shall taste that freedom and relish it's exquisite flavor as I watch my children play in a land that was bled on by men and women who never had any idea that we would live, yet were willing to lay their lives down so that we could live in freedom...