curators

My Silver Dollar Campaign Updated

Newtie

“I’d Rather Rendezvous With This Sexy Italian Newt Than Wait Around Here For Tasteless Billionaires To Win Again” 2016. acrylic on discarded press cleaning sheet, 7 x 17″ (In private collection of a friend)

Repeatedly, I suffer bouts of intense self-doubt that usually presages a light epiphany of sorts. I get a new idea or a reaffirmation of a past philosophy, and all is set back right with the world. Always temporary though. Another self-doubt monster will invade my pshyche in due time. It never fails to torment again and again.

Last night was bad. I won’t go into it, because the good idea that transpired has charged me back onto a positive path.

For some unknown reason, the life of my great grandfather sprang into my mind this morning. Henry Throop lived in the central New York area all his life. He was born in 1880, raised in Lebanon, N.Y., attended Colgate when it was still a prep school, went to Cornell to study civil engineering, married, and settled in Syracuse, where he worked as a railroad engineer, and then on his own as independent engineer/contractor until his death in 1956.

I use his life often in writing and conversation to juxtapose today’s culture to the one of a hundred years ago. Was it a better time? Who knows? I can say with certainty that Henry was a very mature twenty-something year old. He kept a journal—observations and day to day life for the most part, and also an expense account book, showing where every penny went. This morning’s idea was to use this account book to revolutionize the way I intend to sell my work.

My Silver Dollar Campaign

I have had it with business and art. It doesn’t work. The moment the painting gets offered, haggled, denied, etc, on the market exchange, the entire culture of the thing created gets violated. I lose all semblance of its original innocence as soon as the money door opens. Only once have I made a painting thinking about money, or a sale. Here it is:

_DSC2347

“My Heart’s Desire Is That One of You Is Drunk Enough To Buy This Painting” 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16″

I was invited to a rock concert with some friends where there would be a section of the parking lot cordoned off for vendors. I painted this the night before, and had it sold before we finished putting up the tent.

It is stated in my great grandfather’s account book that on September 14, 1907, he purchased the following for one dollar:

2 loaves of bread
1 dozen cookies
toothpicks
paper
salt
chestnuts
peanuts
pound of butter

and a haircut…

A dollar in 1907 had the spending power of about $25 today, without the haircut (some small luxury to prove how contemporary inflation experts always seem to get it wrong). So, about $40 today would buy these goods Henry bought in 1907. A dollar was a dollar and it purchased what forty more dollars could buy today.

I love the silver dollar because it has an ever changing value on the money market. For several years I have watched its value move between about $15 to $35. And it’s just a dollar! It also feels good in the hand, and I bet many of them in a small pouch attached to my belt (a lá Rimbaud), would feel even better.

Henry’s items I listed above are worth any one of my paintings. No one is buying the luxury items I have made available. So I have sweetened the pot in order to avoid the money exchange problem for the rest of my life.

I will amass silver coins!

From this day forward, any one of my paintings not hanging in a gallery can be bought for a silver dollar. Not what a silver dollar will buy, but exactly one, shiny silver dollar. I don’t want to barter anymore. I want to jingle coins in a pouch. I have set the value, and it is universal. Any size. Any painting not in a gallery. Of course, the buyer must pay for frame and also shipping on top of the silver dollar. I have some very big paintings. If they were purchased, I would have to charge a handling fee. (Quite a bit of work goes into hiring a tractor trailer to pick up at a residence). Frames, shipping and handling could be exchanged in paper currency, however, the painting itself—always just one silver dollar.

Now imagine the creative time we could have. No more of that embarrassing “real” money exchanging hands. You can stop at the local pawn shop on your way to my studio and deal with the proprietor. He or she will certainly have silver dollars to sell you in trade for the paper money. Get it. Heck, get two, and stop by to pick out any painting(s) you want. If framed, I will price it fair, and you can give me the paper money that I will spend on groceries, or a dress for Rose at the second hand shop. I will mark your name, painting, and date of purchase in a little cardboard envelope, and if I make it to seventy-five, cash in on retirement fried eggplant sandwiches once in a while, thinking of you and our shared human experience.

(Please note: I can only accept silver dollars, and not paper money of what a silver dollar is currently worth on the pretend money market. I made the effort of the painting. Now you can go the extra mile to pick up the actual silver dollar).

Please think about this, and spread the idea far and wide. There must be some painting that you like for such a fair price. Think of birthdays, upcoming holidays. I am just so exhausted from these encounters with the self doubt monster. It’s time to kill the money.

Several of my recent paintings can be found here. I look forward to jingling coins in a pouch.

Ron

The Everson Vs. The Memorial Art Gallery

everson

“The Everson vs. The Memorial Art Gallery” 2013. Acrylic on press cleaning sheet, 15 x 7″

From Last Communion:

Two feelings today. First individual. Second communal. In the second I fix museums. In the first I fight despair.

I am weary of thinking. S.A.D. covers me like a fog at this time of year. S.A.D. with financial worry is a toxic cloud sizzling acid into my frontal lobe.
Depression? I don’t think so. It is what any man, of any culture, of any time feels when he possesses creative energy and spunk but has no waiting outlet for his expression.
“Keep it to yourself for six months mister, then in spring we’ll be committed to the same routine, and not have time for you then, either.”
Lows like this always bring me back to Henry Miller. He is the artist whose legacy champions the driven failure. He is the dreamer’s Jesus, and Tropic of Cancer the New Testament. Forty-four year old man coughing up green gobs in a Paris artist ghetto delivers pure hope to the future neurotics inhabiting modern earth. Nihilism with warm bread and salted butter. Joy as a routine of failure. Happiness with no expectations. Scratch that… At least one expectation… Dinner!
Most houses of present day claiming to represent the artist are supermarket chains stocking their shelves with glossy Keebler® products. They have lost sight of the man and woman as artist. “Give us the output that PBS wants to see. We don’t care about your thoughts. As long as you supply us our boxed Toll House® cookie crackers—stale or fresh, it doesn’t matter. And you better dress well. And be approachable. And portfolio a resume that looks corporate like accounting…”
Oh Jesus, Henry, they’re taking away art’s right to failure, to jugs of wine, to 3 a.m. coffee, wild plans for the future, close friendships, and sleep as a favorite pastime for lovers. They are accomplishing the death of art in the cruelest manner to the artist. With silence! With form letters. With business. With pedaling works door-to-door, alone, in a car. Individuality and avarice. Now artists tap in like cable TV to a corporate model for communication. Twitter. Facebook. They’ve gone public. Promoters, promotees, a sculptor I just met telling me in a sports bar how his friend needs to show more in order to build his resume—
These are weapons wielded by the enemies of art. Soldiers paid by anti-creative institutions. Bootlickers of art history PhD’s. The temporary gatekeepers. Thank you Jesus Miller. Again.
Now to keep to my subject promise of finding creative ways to slaughter the corporate model that has usurped art in America.
Christie’s is a pig sty, and the people who work there are rats who feed on pig drippings.
The Everson Museum is a Syracuse treasure, as is the Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester. But they have lost their way. They are mirroring their favorite soda brand (“pop” in Rochester—so you can tell which city I advocate for). They are seeking identity in a sea of exactly the same thing museums. Each a division of Keebler® trying to outdo its sister product with the “individuality” of whatever a cool million can purchase this year for the collection. Brand identity. The new thing. Like the new normalcy of networking. Concepts verbatim from page 2 in the corporate charter.
We smell a rat.
There must be three hundred or more museums of equal size across America. And they all cry poverty in the sense that attendance is down, upkeep is up, and it just feels like so few are interested in the arts these days. The Cincinnati Art Museum spends 1.8 million on an 18 x 24″ Georgia O’Keeffe and Johnny’s mother is opening up a can of SpaghettiOs® for breakfast so his stomach won’t rumble at school today. Johnny likes the Cincinnati Bengals but the Bengals corporation wants to whore their “anything they can” on Johnny. So Johnny gets a Bengal helmet for Christmas this year. The Bengal business model was a success. The linebacker got three million. The art museum an O’Keeffe. Avarice can easily find its connections in Hell. Just plug into the bottom line.
So my idea is this: Bring local art to the status it has deserved since Barbara the Neanderthal iron oxided the cave wall with a horse. Today it’s like museums around the world would be jonesing for a slab of that rock.
“France has a lot of ‘gaul’ to keep cave art in its own caves, especially when we’re willing to offer thirty million a cubic yard.”
All the artists in the Syracuse area, represented by the Everson Museum, can enter a yearly juried competition, like in January, when creatives are locally the most desperate. Same for the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. Each museum chooses ten of its favorites for the juror, who is from out of state and has no bias toward either city. She is invited to stay at a middle ground no-man’s land along the I-90 corridor. Clyde, for instance. The host museum will alternate each time the two meet to fight. The juror judges the work, both staffs sort it out, and the top three out of five of the total twenty declares the winner museum. There is a show in summer at the home of the victor. And it receives more hype than a dead O’Keeffe, born and raised in Wisconsin, ever deserved.
Local artists become the art stars of their own communities. Now the Everson can challenge Munson-Williams in Utica next year. The Memorial Art Gallery can take on Albright Knox in Buffalo. In a five year period, several cities can duke it out and declare a champion institution for that region.
So when the Jones family from California visits the Everson they will be shone a room displaying Syracuse’s artist cream of the crop. I know the work will be just as inspired as any from van Gogh, Picasso, or that internationally adored, anal retentive metal sculptor, who, by virtue of some corporate art Gnostics, sits atop the sculpture throne in America, even though he was born in Natchez and hates the snow.

An addendum

“On My Own Time” is an exhibit the Everson hosts every October. It is a show where participating businesses send the top two or three judged pieces from their employees, who all have a hobby called “art”. Just to give you an idea of how screwy things are in our culture these days, I cannot even well express the insult dagger that drives into the very heart of humanity, which is all things art. But it does, and it goes deep. My friend, a marble sculptor who has shown at this venue the past two years, does university teaching on his own time. He spends hours searching for stone, dreaming the stone, cutting, carving, and sanding the stone. And he has something to say that he can never say while hobbying at his day job, which always pays him on time for work that is one part inspiration, three parts stultifying. And he is lucky to practice the art of teaching. To receive his certificate for “doing art” even though he doesn’t have to do art, can be a rewarding result of herculean effort. Along a similar vein, the poor janitor, who works at the same institution on his own time, scrubs dried vomit off of toilet seats in dormitories. His non-art is all stultifying. He is a photographer snapping photos in the bright light of day, from mountaintops in the Adirondacks. This makes him forget briefly that his culture and society expect him to pull hair out of clogged drains in order to take pictures on his own time, and never the other way around.
The show costs ten dollars for guests. It’s catered. And my friend for his piece, which took him over a hundred and fifty hours of time to perfect, leaves with a show book and a desk top printed certificate.
Every time the Everson acquires another fifty thousand dollar piece of someone else’s culture, they figuratively ram a can of SpaghettiOs down little Johnny’s throat, and likewise remind the community that art is for the dead, just keep at it on your own time. The Everson needs our ignorance to fill its coffers. Like Walmart. Like Pepsi. Like McDonald’s and the Cincinnati Bengals.
My friend the sculptor is an artist and a teacher. Everything he does is on his own time. The problem is that the thieves of our culture want to snatch pieces of what is ours for themselves.
The Everson and Memorial Art Gallery should exist because they are our community treasures. But they need to wake up and throw open their doors to a new vitality. Keep the stuffy tomb rooms of worldly historical art. They have their story. In my opinion they should be restocked with the art of dead central New Yorkers. I would want to know what a painter living on Midler or South Geddes was up against back in 1923. Looks pretty good. Yeah, yeah, Picasso was in Paris painting a gargoyle. And Woodrow Wilson harbored no regrets after sending thousands of human beings to unecessary slaughter. Jesus my dear Henry Miller, are they ever going to cut out this worship of dead kings?

Answer To Agora Gallery’s Twitter Question: “Is Art Urgent?”

Justicegene

Without the Presence of a Justice Gene, Public Radio Will Have a Strong Corporate Bias 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36″ Painting has little to do with following subject matter beyond dancing chromosomes.

From Last Communion

This also appears in my website that I have never advertised. Take a look. Lots of pictures. Many paintings available for silver dollar, or two.

Answer to Agora Gallery’s Twitter Question “Is Art Urgent?”

When viewing the work of an artist I seek the biography of the man/woman expressed in hard copies. I mark the energy of the joy or angst living in each piece. If there isn’t any, there isn’t art. Easy marker. With that said, allow me to cite a piece of yesterday that I hope will help answer this important question.
Early in the day I shared with my wife a break time video (via e-mail) of Tom Jones and Janis Joplin back in 1969 singing and dancing “Raise your hand”. I wrote to her that this is what gurgles through my veins most days.

Skip corporate commercial. Tom and Janis.

Did you see it? Got up and danced, yes? Made you almost feel ashamed to live in a land that has warped the meaning of joy and dance (which is often art) into Beyoncé, a phony by-product of Proctor and Gamble, Coca Cola, or AT&T smartphone toothpaste glued to your face.
Not ever, even in a very weak moment, say solitary confinement in a boy’s prison or island castaway, would I be interested in the choreographed faux-dance of Beyoncé. It is without real desire. I think it hasn’t loved since it was a little girl. It says “Me” like a blazing sun, but not a star. More like a thermonuclear detonation. All in all, I think Beyoncé hates art, and has sent her husband into gallery show rooms to rap about it.
Her dance is not an “outward expression of an inward harmony of the soul.” It is, to me, a kind of death of individuality and its right to expression. Poor Beyoncé. She is just a tool, as were Tom and Janis in their day to a degree. The difference lies in their humanity. That unlikely 60’s couple each got to dance like any nerd in the lunch line and feel good about it. Real good. Today the corporations steer us to do the impossible and copy the world’s champions, which sets up stone walls to our dance as expressive creatures. Then this negativity gets revealed in our every day lives: Paint a picture? Not if you can’t out dance both van Gogh in color and Wyeth in boredom. Chisel marble? Are your balls square? There has been only one Italian superstar worthy of that! The world’s champions, (a Kurt Vonnegut idea), existed in 1969 too. Yet from watching the “Raise Your Hand” video (I was 2 years old at the time thinking about becoming a painter), it is so obvious to me that the door was open for humanity (at least for those existing in a healthy economy) to virtually explode with creativity per capita.
Art’s urgent task is to reopen that door. It must go back a generation to Tom and Janis, further back to the Mohawk and Santee Sioux; I say shine light on the first clan even, to notice how Glub the Firestarter turned a rock into a Mastodon with his smoldering magic stick. Hurrah! Let’s party!
And Glub’s brothers and sisters gesticulate the wild human dance while drinking spit beer late into the night.
Beyoncé, Jeff Koons and Rita the corporate-sponsored conceptual artist who uses her feet to throw rocks at spider monkeys, are barbarian invaders in our once deeply expressive village. ABC and PBS are working overtime this week getting us to authenticate their celebrity. This will sell more Crest, more Toyota Corollas, and less and less of the truth that each and every one of us is deeply expressive if we dare to dig that deep. The entertainers can be amazing and excite us to our own expressive joys, which is art manifest. I got up and raised my hand with Tom Jones, but I didn’t want to be like him. I writhed and wrinkled and spilled my spit fermented beer on the hide carpet. I woke up and rock painted a saber-toothed tiger stalking a Super Bowl celebrity into the forest.
Art must coax art out of the box that money and power have stuffed it into. Museum is art history. Instrumental in preserving art’s stories. However, no joy comes from paced, clockwise observation at a respectable five foot distance, whether that be an afternoon at the Louvre or your local, struggling art association. And celebrity is anything but celebratory. Lady Gaga is Cindy Sherman. Mick Jagger is Jasper Johns. Millionaire super jocks with dead style choreographed. I think their art is as much fun to be around as burning plastic. It is urgent that we support the expression of our neighbors Donna, who paints us the real news, (what the fourth estate has abandoned for advertising deals), and Fred, the marble sculptor sweating out angst in the oppressive July heat. His suburban neighbors doze the live long day long in the cool of the swimming pool.
Hey, crank up the music.

Yawn.

Just another Beyoncé tune.

 

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Hyperallergic Is Good For Soul Show and Indifferent to Patronage, But I Love My Soul, So Thank You New York Blogazine

Hyperallergic has been posting me lately. If I had supernatural powers I would turn that New York enthusiasm into more paint and canvas. If there is a gallerist or curator out there who desires a hard-working, on time, humble-yet-talkative show painter, who has an endless yarn of tales to tell about his work, then please consider hosting an exhibition. I have posted a picture of success at opening night parties. You can use it to size my wig. Thank you.

Funnypeople

I am the laughing man with the tie.

Addendum

Here is why it is impossible for me to make money. The price list introduction for my last show:

Okay. I must disclose this.

I am a terrible failure at making money.

I can’t even barter well. In the past I have asked for olive oil, chain saw lessons, French wine—it is nigh impossible to wrestle money, or even goods, for art out of normal people of modest means. I even offered to trade a painting at my last show to anyone willing to say “Ron Throop, great painter” daily for one month to different people each time. I feel rotten pricing anything, but know that ArtRage cannot continue indefinitely to provide quality shows with food and flowers without bones thrown to administration once in a while.

Therefore I have priced these works at the cost to my wife, who supports my acrylic painting habit, with an added 40% of bones with meat still left on for ArtRage. I charge $10/hour for my time. I have eliminated my usual 30% element “X” fee added to time and cost of materials. The element “X” fee, also known as “fool’s buck”, is that portion of total cost that compensates beyond what repeated narcissistic failure can appropriate to any idiot with a free hand. Please reach into your wallets and support ArtRage. The money I make will not help my future so much as to pay a debt to my past. I know there is value to any Throop you purchase today. At 48 years of age, I have a clean bill of health and a work ethic that would make John Calvin shame-faced so much to lock his own head in the pillory. I will continue to produce like a hummingbird on speed. I will not die until Rose (my wife) has an archive that will give her a big fat bargaining chip for her next husband to salivate over. If a painting you like is out of your range, please buy a book, or ask me to jig for nickels (ArtRage will still get its cut).

Thank you.

Dan Photographed Mexico in 1983

DanMexico

2015. Acrylic on Masonite®, 20 x 13″

This could also be titled: Poor But Healthy Jack. It’s another painting to be auctioned off at my friend Dan’s going away party.

The many new birds and wild clusters of gnats have drowned out the noise of myself. From Last Communion:

April is Clean Up Time With Paints, Squeezing Out Tubes, and Making History

For me freedom happens whenever I am arrested by the element X. Yesterday’s work was spent dreaming about what will be if I allow the X in for longer periods of time. This isn’t bragging or false modesty. It is what it is. I am an artist, good or bad, but one through and through. Yesterday I would have painted on the cats if there was no canvas or paper at hand. But then I read to my daughter, improvised a rich stew, painted frames, cleaned out cat litter boxes, made beds, did laundry, planted late garlic—basically chased the ten thousand things which all of us are bound to do.
But not once the money exchange.
As a younger man I should have had my fortune read to spare a future old man anguish. But then I never would have believed it. Now at 46, instead of the positive I-Ching thunder at the well, my “art” gets thrown down into the well. Financial success is not showing in any card, and I guess that was meant to be, for me.
Artists never wanted a built-in swimming pool with cocktails at sunset anyway. I can tell who the wealth-desiring phonies are from a gated community away. It’s just that the onset of old age has me devaluing my efforts more often, when I know I should keep the fighting attitude alive and strong.
All of this is okay if viewed future-historically. I know the value of archiving struggle. For posterity. Today in New York, they take thirty percent of your skin (if you’re lucky to get a foot in the door of four white walls and around-the-room track lighting) because the power of influencing rich stupid people is basically an art in itself. These liaisons play their part, maintaining personal wealth and status while courting filthy rich imbeciles of a lower order. But they only serve a present purpose, and much of that is made in the past. The art collectors have money. The artists do not. There has never been a time on earth when the latter held their heads financially high like bankers in Mercedes. Cave painters were probably tolerated their art for performing some other shameful, putrid tasks. Cleaning out the crap corner of the cave, or burying the six-day-old dead. The ones who stubbornly held their arms to the chest declaring “not another demeaning task,” were probably tossed over the nearest cliff.
I am a cave painter in a poor upstate village. If there are three art buyers here, they have already cornered the market on still life apples and chiaroscuro candles melting wax. I have an existentialist’s chance in heaven to be supported by my community. Unless I decide to seek the Calvinistic retardation of “mop a floor for your dinner”. Then I will be financially independent, and afford any smartphone with its two-year contract.
No. I have a rich wife who supports me because I support her.
And I see into the future an immense archive sold at auction for $500.00, with a U-Haul rental fee waived. My grandchildren will get an education in the arts, enough to know that dedication and devotion to painting, or the like, where there is no contemporary investment, is like mopping an institution’s floors for free because you think you deserve the pool and cocktail-at-sunset prize, even though, after all, it was just a shiny floor. And nobody, not a single soul in your world, ever pressed you to live this fool’s eternity.

P.S. Please feel free to share my work with a wealthy gallery renter in NYC. She can take 90% commission. I’ll ask my friend Dan to load up his mini-van and we could be set up in a day. Tell her that I am handsome enough for my age, and on opening night would mousse my remaining hair and talk to prospective buyers as if they too possessed the artist’s hopeful soul, and not the caged rabid animal gesticulating in their void. Tell her that I am more desperate than a dead Basquiat or a living pervert like Jeff Koons ever was. Tell her that if given a small financial push, the gigantic chip on my shoulder would explode in creativity, which could help her realize her dream: the pool and cocktail-at-sunset prize.

 

Particularly Nice Weather, Tar and Tickle Texas Feather

Texas

2014. Acrylic on canvas, 26 X 34″

Part of my literature for the upcoming spring show:

While at the periodontist yesterday I read a recent interview with Bob Dylan in AARP magazine. Rotting gums, Bob Dylan, and a bland publication representing a powerful lobby of 35 million members. Not much excitement to look forward to after 50, if I decide to tow the line with this lifestyle. Anyway, Dylan remarked that he is no longer passionate, that that’s a young man’s game. The elders should seek wisdom, or at least shut-up and fake it with boring silence. Yet in the same interview he admitted that perhaps there isn’t a generational difference between the minds of old and young after all. Maybe grandpa can relate to all things granddaughter and vice-versa. Then he told the interviewer that he doesn’t worry if his records sell or not. His business people take care of that.

Here is a point in time where both wisdom and passion can collaborate, if one chooses to act, whether she be fifteen or fifty-five. First the facts up front. Bob Dylan is a multimillionaire who has a business team of professionals working for him night and day. The AARP is a multimillion dollar lobby putting all American people over 50 in a blender and aging them together on high puree. A periodonist is expensive but worth the investment if you still long for a kiss at midnight, but hope to avoid your lover’s tongue prying off your lower partial.

Period.

Now I will spend a moment in my imagination, and work through the institutional obfuscations that plague all innocent ninety-nine percenters of the earth, and leave them daily worried, bewildered, and confused. The media has never been so practically omnipotent wielding its power to keep minds, and what are supposed to be wiser minds (those over 50 at the periodontist), at rest, in a kind of living death-rest way. I read what Bob Dylan has to say, and suddenly feel, that yeah, maybe he’s right. I shouldn’t be passionate anymore. I should just grow old, find drugs to decrease my joint pain, and shut up. Even if I arrived to the periodonist singing along and imagination dancing to what Jagger and Richards thought passionate back in 1974, I must come to terms with my old age eventually, give up all firecracker electricity in my veins, get out of the car, check my belt, adjust my glasses, and enter one of the many waiting rooms of my future. No spark. No passion. Just quiet wisdom. And look! The new issue of AARP. Advertisements, pop culture, television, an interesting hobby, travel, gum disease, tooth extraction, and then death. Many studies have proven that the dispassionate actually choose what type of deodorant to buy. The dispassionate want quick weeknight meals, packages to tropical island getaways, historical vignettes, and even an interview with an elder, creative millionaire who, at present, is pretending to be a 1940’s lounge crooner.

Sometimes my mind can work through these persistent media distortions. I actually agreed with Bob Dylan, until I got back into my car, turned on the CD, and listened to his 1981 non-smash hit, “The Property of Jesus”. The gears began turning. I thought about my upcoming painting exhibition on hydrofracking, an adulthood of going my own way (always against the AARP grain), and strangely enough, my lifelong friend Pat and an expression he’d often share with me. (I’ll get to that in a moment.)

I want to quote Dylan’s lyrics in full, minus the repetition of the refrain:

Go ahead and talk about him because he makes you doubt
Because he has denied himself the things that you can’t live without
Laugh at him behind his back just like the others do
Remind him of what he used to be when he comes walkin’ through

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

Stop your conversation when he passes on the street
Hope he falls upon himself, oh, won’t that be sweet
Because he can’t be exploited by superstition anymore
Because he can’t be bribed or bought by the things that you adore

When the whip that’s keeping you in line doesn’t make him jump
Say he’s hard-of-hearin’, say that he’s a chump
Say he’s out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve
Because he doesn’t pay no tribute to the king that you serve

Say that he’s a loser ’cause he got no common sense
Because he don’t increase his worth at someone else’s expense
Because he’s not afraid of trying, say he’s got no style
’Cause he doesn’t tell you jokes or fairy tales, say things to make you smile

You can laugh at salvation, you can play Olympic games
You think that when you rest at last you’ll go back from where you came
But you’ve picked up quite a story and you’ve changed since the womb
What happened to the real you, you’ve been captured but by whom?

Boy, I know that feeling Dylan had and evoked with this song, and it’s not just for the Born Again Christians, of which I am not one at present. It is radical, for humans anyway, in the sense that it is deeply rooted in our DNA and impossible to kill. It is the essence of individuality expressed as righteousness unto the clan. Society needs more individuality, not less. But not the kind that promotes itself, rather one that nurtures love of life, and right environment for all to share. Very difficult to love life from a cesspool. I believe that every healthy mind feels this way, that is, morally, upon waking up in the morning. At least one begins so each day before the virtual onslaught of media mores, which sadly have become the norm in gaging how society behaves in public. That is, wholly dispassionate, quiet, careful, without opinion expressed outside of the everyday fact that “I am human”, just as any streamlined institution says what it is depending on the product to be sold or the idea being disseminated; “I am fruit cocktail”, or “Liberals are communists”, or “I am Bob Dylan the wise old man who could afford a private nose-picker if desired”. Those lyrics express what it truly means to be human among humans… Passionate for the betterment of all. And I don’t see any age requirement. As a Christian holding tightly to morality, Born Again Bob wasn’t feeling ostracized because he rode around in private planes, but he sure as hell should feel that way now.

Okay, back to my friend Pat, and what he said to the opposite sex a few times when we were fourteen. He would walk up to a girl he knew, she might be opening her locker or sitting on the bleachers at a football game, and he would whisper by her ear, “Tickle your ass with a feather?”

The girl would exclaim, “What did you say?”

To which Pat immediately followed with, “Particularly nice weather?”

This memory pops into my head from time to time. I can’t help it, the brain is a mysterious recollector. Anyway, I come home from the periodontist, all jacked up with angst and gum pain, and I start painting while day dreaming of what I really want to do to the gas men, which is, tar and feather them. Unfortunately, it’s already late in the day. I have been AARP’d and orally violated to the point of my drool bib getting Pollocked all bloody, so my age begins to show by nightfall, and although I want the corporitos publically humiliated and dragged through the streets, I remember my media training in dispassion, and write instead,

Particularly Nice Weather, Tar and Tickle Texas Feather

It’s the safer way to keep eyes affixed to the painting. Even though it will hang at a gallery called “ArtRage”, I am reminded by Bob Dylan and the AARP that it is foolhardy to make passionate expression at late middle age. Even if I have nothing to lose! Opinions are always suspected. Negative ones can place you in the order of fanatics. Once Bob Dylan expressed his belief in Jesus, he immediately became a fanatic to the cultured, dispassionate public. If I tell (or yell) my fracking woes too loudly, I will be deemed environmental fanatic. No one ever calls the gas lobbyist fanatical, maybe because he wears a suit and has a manicure, but what is he if not Mr. Fanatic himself, spending a life’s profession pushing for just one platform? Even I, as painter, will go on to the next subject after ArtRage. We, as dispassionate Americans, allow this trespass on our families, without a fight. It is polite. Shhh. Quiet. It is best to pretend wisdom like Bob Dylan getting old.

After leaving the periodontist and coming home to paint, which is my passion, I realize now, more than yesterday, that AARP Magazine will never show on its cover the face of a sick child affected by water and air pollution produced by hydrofracking. They will continue to feature dispassionate people like Bob Dylan in his cool new hat. He won’t mention hydrofracking either—his business people frown on political opinions generated by old millionaires. It upsets the purchasing climate. AARP would sell less Toyotas and prescription medications, and Bob Dylan would pass away wondering why nobody cared that he dreamed he was the idol of the bobby soxers.

I need to work on my passion. Not only is it the voice of wisdom, but it’s all I have internally after a life lived loving Bob Dylan songs . When fifty, I’d rather be the property of a defunct Jesus, than belonging to the old age club that credentials anyone, even a pimp or pedophile, simply because they have hit a time marker. I think tortoises and elephants can get in too, as long as they reached a ripe old age in captivity.

 

How A Career Can Muddy Up A Painter’s Dream Forest

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Ghost Fish Flowing Above Benzene Stream 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 16 X 20″

A Very Short Story I Wrote Just Now Before My Second Cup of Coffee About My Fall From Grace As A Painter

Finally! I have been contractually released from my indentured servitude. I am no longer working for the big guy in the sky. Holiday perks were actually fewer than any hair shirt day of the week, and I began to dread plain oatmeal. The constant walking was hell on the feet, and the heart attack trumpet sounding off the frequent Armageddon drills was making me schizophrenic. Enough! I couldn’t take it anymore. So I literally got down on my knees and begged Penance Peter the overseer to chisel out my frontal lobe with a rusty fork. As usual, he would have nothing to do with my begging and pleading (I swear he actually got off on it). So I went over his head to the palace on high, ran fearlessly forward into the blinding light, straight up to the throne of gold blazing and called out demanding my release.

“Why should I let you go?” said the thundering sky surround sound.

“I want to be a painter—” I called out.

“You are.”

“…who can sell a pain—”

I woke up standing in a beautiful white gallery with all of my paintings hung on a wall. Each one had a red dot stuck under the title, and many tall, thin, young-looking people dressed in black and jewelry and holding drinks were smiling at me. A silver-haired man approached and shook my hand.

“Hello Ron. I am Larry Beelzebub Gagosian. Welcome to Hell. Do not walk to the door. Do not stop smiling. I have an appointment scheduled later for you with Paul Allen and David Geffen. I want you to talk about nothing but cheese and a dollar that you found on the sidewalk today. Do not sniffle, but stick a finger in your belly button from time to time. You will be a millionaire by midnight.

“Finally! Thank you Mr. Gagosian!”

“There’s one caveat,“ he said.

“And what is that?” I asked.

“Every painting from now until you die must have those colorful clouds spread on in exactly the same fashion.”

“Do they have to be the same color?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Same arrangement”

“No. You may turn them upside down, elongate or compress, and of course you are free to choose any size of canvas we stretch here in Hell.”

“It’s a deal!” I cried.

“Okay. Great. Start talking about cheese…”

The End.

Remember, only 3 days left to bid on a heavenly piece.