Month: February 2017

A Couple Weeks Painting as I Come to Grips With My Limitations at 50

cornishhen

“Cannibal Cornish Hen Fancies Cabbage for Valentine’s” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

skunkcrab

“A Skunk Got Us and the Rats This Morning” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

goosefruit

“Canada Goose Knows Late Apples are ‘for the Deer’” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

rathole

“Fat Rat Digs a Memory Hole” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 9 x 12″

calculus

“If You Study the Intricacies of Mathematics, and Neglect Art, Then You are Probably a Maladjusted Social Animal, But Never Vice-Versa” 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18″

hamlet

“Hamlet, the Old Dog, Tries a New Trick” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

oeufs

“I Wonder if All That Money We Spend on Space Just Happens to be a Real Sexy Breakfast” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

mackerelfinal

“Holy Mackerel Arrive for the Garum Sacrifice” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 21″

menu

“Chef Newt Has a Tricky Menu Tonight at Salamander’s” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 10 x 13″

thankyou

“Adding Bone Black Was Probably the Best Thing I Could Do For This Painting” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 18 x 27″

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A Local Apprentice Image Maker Scolds the College Art Professors

avariceartsballs

“If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Arrogance In The Arts, I Would Have Stayed On The Floor And Played With My Balls” 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20″

My gut feeling (which is often art) tells me day after day that many, maybe even most, college and university art professors are not artists themselves, although they craft pictures or statues from time to time. They are more like non-believing ministers of obsolete dogma in a practically defunct religion, like radio preachers, pretending a common and vogue Christianity to make a living. I would feel sorry for them if so many weren’t so damn arrogant.

But is it truly arrogance?

I guess not. Though sometimes their mannerisms come off that way. Can creative people even be arrogant? We are often self-loathing, sure, which can breed a tendency to be catty in some social situations. I used to think that my local college art professors stayed away from my painting exhibitions because they were arrogant. Yet lately, after much thought about it, I believe it’s carefulness born from avarice which goads most of them to ignore my invitations so rudely and so often. And “carefulness born from avarice” can never be art. At least “new” or “relatively inspiring” art. Art must bring people together. Therefore college art professors are not artists, per se, but rather, as any institutional job description would verify, players of art. They get paid to teach, some even by example. They may make wonderful images, sculpt beauty, perhaps manipulate digital media with more attention than ancient monks manuscripted. But none of these makers of things can be artists until they bring people together. Not by the force of tuition. Rather, through the oftentimes painful expression of their own intuition.

In my small city we have an art guild renamed an association some time ago. It is supported through yearly memberships and a rent-free grant from the mayor and city council.  Every spring for the past twenty years it has hosted a juried exhibition open to entries from anyone living in New York State over 18 years of age, provided he or she thinks the art worth a $30 entry fee. There are perhaps 30 fine and digital art professors employed at the college. Usually the juror is selected from this learned group—most are credentialed with terminal degrees earned in their mid to late twenties. The juror gets paid a modest stipend, judges the work to be entered, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Best in Show, and up to five Honorable Mentions, all receiving small cash award, starting at $300 for Best of Show.

Rarely do these professors themselves submit their work to be judged. Though several give direction to their students to apply.

Now why is that?

Because few of them are artists. Anyone can make art—kids, students, moms, dads, celebrities, even cats I hear. But artists must bring people together. Even if it’s just a group of other image-makers in a barroom or a poker game. The writer in isolation can make art if the work completed gives meaning in expression to other human beings. But if he doesn’t get out once in a while with other expressive writers to be human among them, then nada as an artist. Art must bring people together.

I believe that many of these professors apply for grants and/ or exhibition opportunity from international institutions, in order to build resume and chalk up apparently concrete accolades from the most abstract and subjective of endeavors. If life looks good on paper, a better retirement package ensues. A big thing among art teachers these days is to “go on residency”, and institutional applications want “professional” credentials listed, a several page C.V. (stands for “critic’s viciousness”), because institutions cannot judge originality and meaning in expression—only individual people(s) can do that. I think the institution of college or university stifles originality across all disciplines, as a matter of fact, but when it makes sensitive, creative people (would-be artists) into ladder-climbing automatons, then that distortion of art and art principle cannot help but be passed down to pupils.

How dare these professors send their students to have work judged locally, and yet not join the same game out of mutual respect!

And yet, I still do not think it is born from arrogance.

Maybe fear. What if the student won Best in Show? How would that reflect on the professor’s residency application? I’d say very well if said professor was applying for a residency in the art of pedagogy.

Another point to be made. Art professors are not artists until they show their art at every   possible opportunity. Especially locally. My goodness, where do these people think they live? In Brussels?  Melbourne, Australia? A 3-month long prestigious art retreat in Appalachia?

No, of course not. They live and buy eggs at the same Byrne Dairy I do. And yes, I even send my exhibition invites to the Byrne Dairy cashiers, yet they too never attend. At least I don’t expect them to stop by and look at my paintings. But I do expect those who teach art to support image-makers like me who, whether their position in life admits it or not, secures their jobs into the next generation. Artists make the art history of the future. I bring people together. I create hard copies of expression and show them to the local clan. In an ancient representation of clan I would be considered clan artist. Those making private cave drawings to be seen first by other clans of far away would be shunned like bad medicine and banished from the clan.

I could go on. I want to make it clear to the art faculty at my local college. Shame on you! When we cold share a beer, listen to some music, discuss art and art artifice like human beings gathered together at local exhibition parties, very few of you are anywhere to be seen. Off building resumes that nobody but you give a damn about. Your students will be showing their work, and the work of some artists like me will be there too. I hope your students detect the irony, and take a path less traveled by, to become artists themselves one day. I believe college art professors could make a revolutionary change to the face of any modern art. For god’s sake man, you all have summer’s off and can afford materials! However not one clan in Melbourne, Australia, or Prague, Czechoslovakia  wants to see anything you do. Their institution might, but everyone outside of it knows that the institution is very broken, and that up to this point, a whole heck of a lot of art is created in universities, but very few artists are made there.

To readers and artists living among the New York State Clan, you have until Monday night to apply to the Lakeside Statewide 20th annual juried art exhibition. Please pass it along to friends and family. Some of you must know at least one black sheep non-conformist.

I make the same call to the local college art professors. Let’s see whatcha got!

P.S. Here is another read about the broken art university system. It is what it is.

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The Finality of Three Paintings on a Strange Yesterday, and a Fourth today, to Wrap it Up

tee

Two possible titles: “Donald Trump has Made his Decision. Now Let Him Enforce It!”, or “Stop Using the Master’s Freakin” Tools, Fools!” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″

Every few weeks I hit a low. I do not think I am bipolar any more than the next failed painter trapped inside a frozen, northern woe-box—I do believe that all inhabitants of industrialized nations suffer waves of confusion from time to time, whether or not they partake in a private economy bearing cyclical jags of elation and self-doubt. I even support and maintain a hypothesis that men have hormonal periods. Irritable Man Syndrome for some (the pick-up truck testosterone drinking cup type), or those artists like me who deal as loving butlers to the women in the household and suffer, what I believe, a hormonal derangement caused by the cross-gender dormitory effect. Science only needs to prove the theory. And to boot, last night was a full moon or close.
So the day began in heavy angst.
Propaganda radio informed me early on that Standing Rock is going to be slippery oil rock soon, or so everybody thinks. Everybody thinks that a sleazy billionaire will get his spoiled child way in the end. “Executive order” is the line, and the president and his pretend loyal “Army Core of Engineers” (the latter more than likely a euphemism for “recent high school grads with rulers”) have declared that business interests (if significantly dressed up in its moolah bag finery) trumps culture and ways of tradition always. Just what I would expect to hear from a rich pretend noble. What boils my blood is the expected response from thousands of disaffected, propagandized human automatons, who gleefully hand over unlearned and undeserved power to the wrong people. Then an unlearned debate ensues. Some rural nitwit neighbor of mine argues with an urban nitwit neighbor of mine, and the two opinions nitwittedly offered by nitwits to nitwits, constitute reality by a nation of nitwits fueled by nitwit news. And the whole manner is unnecessary to the one brave Sioux descendant who actually keeps the ancient soil in his heart and soul, and also has heard, or even read, a bit of history not told by the established outsider nitwit.
He destroys the problem.
Let the President enforce his “order”. If it’s a culture worth keeping (and I know that it is, then the culture as a nation will do what it must to protect itself. Just stop acting like slaves to nitwits, nitwits! Sabotage now!
Oh, that image didn’t win me many “likes” on social media. So friends and friends of friends, continue to protest and politicize like car payment Gandhi’s with smartphones. Even that bozo thought he did a grand thing. Freed India. To do what? Make an entire earth untouchable with threat of some nifty fisson-fusion fireworks?
Nationalism is always ugly, but nitwit nationalism kills. It kills an awful lot of people eventually. Mahatma should have known this, but the poor sap was trained as a lawyer, not a poet. Lawyers know how to say “boots on the ground” over and over, and the nitwits lap it up and sanction state-sponsored terrorism. The lawyer Gandhi, knowing his audience, dressed down for the occasion, fasted when necessary, led a nation to nationalism, and began India’s own state-sponsored terrorism—a glorious nuclear stockpile of its very own. Praise Shiva.
Onto the second painting…
greatartist
 “If I am Ever Going to be a Great Living Painter, Then All the Young, Talented Ones Must Take a Fast Leap off a Tall Building” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″
A bit of whimsy to disguise a solid truth about my psyche.
I am an envious tool.
And that didn’t help my mood one bit, but it did supply enough self-deprecation juice to nourish the next, and final painting for the day,
conceit
“This Bird Has Got the Disease of Conceit” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22″
So true.
You know, all I ever dreamed, since delving into a lifetime of mixing words and colors, was the ability to make a living, receiving no more pay than a dishwasher’s wages. I used to be a dishwasher, in my twenties, before getting promoted to cook and then father, and then father-husband feeler. I never imagined then, or today, that I would ever make a profit from creative work. The angst is gone now, with the moon yanking on some poor Australian’s psyche, and I am feeling better. As some of my friends have told me, and I believe it more and more each day, that when it comes to making a profit, Mr. Throop is his own worst enemy.
And then the birds visited me this morning, as reminder. Which birds?
egobirds
“This is What my Soul Looks Like When the Little Birds of Profit Fly By” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 22

The Eighth Cardinal Sin Must Be The Pursuit Of Happiness

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Here is a study in the human justification of “happiness and all else be damned”. In the age of resources, it could be the great sin that fuels the other seven, and sadly, solely responsible for our final collapse. At least now I know why Jefferson declared it—so he could justify the Louisiana Purchase from a third party, own as many slaves as was necessary to seek happiness, and love make with the attractive ones whenever he got lonely from all that happiness finding.

Even well drillers just want to be happy. So do the anti-well drillers. The fracking protestor doesn’t want a company from Texas feeding subterranean New York State with toxic juices. He jumps up and down with a sign and some friends, and drives his Mexican made Volkswagen 30 miles north back to his warm cozy Christmas house, heated respectfully by rural North Dakota. Likewise, families in Puebla, Mexico appreciate the pesos generated from the Jetta-making plant, but hate the smell and the silver metal dust cutting into their kid’s scalps. It’s a trade-off for happiness. How else will they afford cable TV and French wine?

A boom economy in North Dakota keeps Lewis and Clark State Park lodge stocked to the rafters with bottled spring water from Maine. The recycling plant in Williston runs 24/7, and nowadays all residents are familiar with the new parts per million science, and therefore happier.

There is no human moral high ground in this debate. Even photovoltaics have to be made somewhere, out of unnatural, non-renewable things. Factories are never earth-friendly even when producing giant rectangular sun-catchers. We could live under a tree by the river, like Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, or all cozy tea-like at Mole End with the frack froth seeping up from the floorboards.  Then we could pursue human happiness like rodentia in the wood, that is, with an amazing frack induced picnic luncheon of: “coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwidgespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—”

“‘O stop, stop,’ cried Mole in ecstasies: ‘This is too much!’
‘Do you really think so?’ inquired the Rat seriously ‘It’s only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I’m a mean beast and cut in very fine!’”

Poor Kenneth Grahame was nervous about the future. No doubt he sniffed in the harsh, coal field stench of Nottinghamshire at some point in his life. Perhaps Toad was the pursuit of happiness amphibia incarnate. He was an ignorant spaz, buying up whatever was offered for immediate gratification, checking his many deeds off on the cardinal sin list, while thinking everyone else a simpleton. For it was only a matter of time before ratty, mole, and even cantankerous badger would want to race about the countryside in a newfangled automobile.

This painting shows nature finally joining those whom they cannot beat. I hate hydrofracking. I hate my pile of packaging waiting to be recycled even more. A sack of oats and brown sugar would get the worst rat character through a hard winter. No need to drive over to the supermarket once a week for a 12 ounce box of already chewed Cheerios®. And any mole could tell you that the cooper would make a tub for the peanut butter if the cooper wasn’t executed by the always boy Peter Pan, henchman for ConAgra. We, the glorious anti-hydrofrackers have not yet learned how to stay put and buy in bulk. We think it’s okay, this day-to-day world we participate in, as long as the water is as pure as our water factories can make it.

The poisonous web. I am sticking with my hypothesis—that we need to go all mid eighteenth century with access to anitbiotics before catalysts like nuclear winter and cancer water make it so without the hope of repair. Hence, follow through with my anti-fracking show in the spring. Keep the potable water flowing while pursuing our sickly happiness.

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I Covet My Brother’s Toxic Stink Pool For Its Local Color

covet1

2015. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24″

One morning these unlucky animals ventured near the frack pool for a drink. Raccoon knew something was wrong when he peered across the liquid stink and saw rabbit turning pink. Moments later the three were asphyxiated and fell into the pool, dead.

Now I don’t know about you reader, but I am bowled over with envy at the man who can get ahead by leasing land that will remain his until it gets sold, or as long as legacy can hold out. Property rights once temporarily shared for hunting, or leasing fields to a farmer to grow experimental soy and corn, now can provide a potent chemical pool to all and sundry. A good neighbor won’t be so greedy. Maybe he’ll invite the local children over for a dip on a hot day. He already made his money. Anyway, it’s safe as poison, and their collective pee, no matter how acidic, won’t dilute the deadly levels of toluene unless the kids were pre-soaked for several days in 55 gallon drums of Kentucky bourbon.

When I found out my brother built one of these pools, I was so jealous of his country living. He always seemed to be one up on his city mouse sibling. He got to kill deer and eviscerate them on the ground. He got a big diesel pick up truck. He got to ride a green tractor around the property, and say words like “wood lot” and “water well”. He used to boast about the latter whenever his family came over for dinner. He said our water tasted like swimming pool, and he’d get all proud about his purer supply, and start bragging about the strawberry patch and vegetable garden, on and on about how good irrigation ditches made big fat watermelons grow.

Of course that all ended the morning the results came back from oncology, and it turned out his whole family and the dog had cancer.

I still envy his pool. It has a sweet smell. It never freezes over, even in February, and the crystal colors on the surface shimmer all rainbowy.

Now for a serious talk about Ron Paul, libertarianism, and property rights, and how to apply these concepts to hydrofracking. I have a weak spot for Ron Raul, the retired twelve term congressman from Texas who ran for President three times, once as a libertarian, and twice on the Republican ticket. He is a minor thinker, more of a philosopher than a politician. Even if his philosophy could be challenged in healthy debate, I voted for him in the last election because he was the only candidate available who was not a disgusting human being. Lobbyists always stayed clear of his office on Capital Hill. He believed like Jefferson “that government is best that governs least”. Money in government, according to Paul, is the bane of modern society, in that there will always be tremendous winners and losers. In our present day, the winners representing the military, medical, educational, industrial complex, and the losers being everyone else, divided into warring factions, all pining for their teeny-weeny sliver slice of the government pie.

Through Paul I realized that I have always been of a similar philosophy, more or less. That is, I am a libertarian who believes strongly in the Golden Rule. I use it as an individual, more so than a political philosophy. That is, I am a moralist in theory, but practical enough to never apply it seriously to others, and expect good results. Because…

“Preacher was talkin’
There’s a sermon he gave.
He said, ‘Every man’s conscience
Is vile and depraved’”

—Bob Dylan from Man in a Long Black Coat

Enter the concept of property rights, a basis of libertarian philosophy, and an example of cheap lip service paid by the Republicans and Conservatives of my country. Basically it means that you and I as individuals, through rights of property, whether that property exists as owning land, or just owning the rights to ourselves, should in theory have more power than all groups or governments that lobby and/or make laws. Individual rights trump group rights always, as long as no one else suffers from an individual’s actions. Property rights only work if courts invoke and society enforces them equally for all.

So, according to Ron Paul and libertarians, if you own a piece of land, not only should you be free from paying property taxes, but you can do with the land whatever you please, as long as you’re not infringing on the property rights of your neighbor. So again in theory, libertarians will tell you Monsanto is criminal because it’s pollen escapes boundaries and destroys the individual farmer’s seed crop. However, a guy selling seeds on his own land has every right to do so, without local, state, or federal government regulation, so long as his seeds do not hurt anyone.

In an interview a couple years ago, Paul was asked what he thought about hydrofracking. True to his form, he applied libertarian philosophy to the controversy. He thought out loud for the interviewer and came to a decision. First, he noted that if there is a strong potential to infect the groundwater that others connect to, then hydrofracking should be outlawed. Then, after further thought, he admitted that just the actual process defies a libertarian point-of-view. Hydraulic fracturing runs horizontal, across boundaries. It crosses properties below. So if Fred has a well, and the well shoots toxic chemicals sideways, then his neighbors Bob and Mary lose their individual right to keep their property free from toxic chemical invasion. From another angle (my own) it could be said that gas companies would be liable to pay Bob and Mary for use of the property a mile below their feet, which of course, would make such a venture impossible to profit by, making gas companies pay individuals for thousands and thousands of affected subterranean square miles.

It’s true, after the well is drilled, hydrofracking ignores the property rights of everybody else affected, whether that be from potential health risks to the individual, or loss of compensation from unauthorized land lease below ground.

Republicans and conservatives are lying to themselves about hydrofracking if they also subscribe to the concept of individual property rights. Now again, in theory, if they allow a legislative body (the state) to determine if hydrofracking will be allowed, then might it be that the Republicans and Conservatives are so in name only, yet may actually lean more toward a philosophy of socialism, or even a light totalitarianism/fascism?

I think so.

A quick note about libertarian philosophy. It cannot work beyond the political machinations of a clan type of government. Property rights for individuals are not, nor have ever been universally applied in the history of civilization. But it can act as a very good justice indicator. Applied to hydrofracking, one can easily prove to a Republican or Conservative brother-in-law that his philosophy is just made up of re-hashings of Fox News diatribes mixed in with a hot shot of greed and entitlement.

 

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