“I Know Lake Ontario Doesn’t Look Like This in April, but Maybe It Should” 2017. Acrylic on birch panel, 24 x 24″
“Only Jay Leno and Other Jingoes See the American Dream From Outside the Dollar Store” 2017. Acrylic on 500 piece puzzle for a dollar. What a deal!
“After Sacrificing 23 Pieces of Crap From the Dollar Store, I Planted This Baby Pear Tree” 2017. Acrylic on dollar store frame, 8 x 10″
“Dollar Store Frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu and Blueberry Muffin on Ceramic Plate Made in China, $3.08” 2017. Acrylic on plate, dinner plate size
“This Dollar Store Clipboard Does Not Want My Dream of Mexico Unless I Make It So” 2017. Acrylic on Chinese dollar store clipboard, 10 x 14″
“How I Look and Feel at the Dollar Store in Town” 2017. Acrylic on dollar store frame, 8 x 10″
“Even at 50 My Attempt at an Imaginary Alligator Should Spark the Professional Curiosity of a Bored Psychiatrist” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 11″
“For Those of You Living in 1 of the Other 195 Nations, the Reason Americans Don’t Love Trains Anymore is Because Our Brains Have Been Usurped by Cognitive Dissonance Aliens” 2017. Acrylic on Stepanov packaging particle board, 12 x 16″
“Rose Left For Work This Morning With Her Nose in a Better Place” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 11 x 15″
Rose is my wife. Or, I am her husband. They say possession is 9/10 the law, and to anyone looking, it’s obvious that we are close—married to the hilt— bearing all the positive and negative of that attachment vice/virtue the Buddhists claim is soul draining. So, emotionally, we possess each other, for better or worse, like good/bad attachments. We “get it”, and flow fairly well together, through good and bad, in concert with fluctuating hormonal balances—her month, my month, hair loss, hair gain… We have nearly mastered the art of cohabitation, and she, whether realizing it or not, is primed and ready for a sweet nirvana, if she ever desires/not desires its potential awakening.
Me, on the other hand, is an anxious mess. The culprit (if I must ascribe blame. And I must because I am not healed) is culture, and the roles it pressures us into, wittingly or unwittingly. Rose is breadwinner. We eat and stay dry and warm because she maintains acceptable work outside the home. A steady job that pays well enough for me to stay home and keep life about us steady and content. I am literally bread-maker—stay-at-home cook and part-time butler, part-time painter, writer, curator. These are the chores separating me from Rose, for we are both very sensitive, full time spouse and parent, and there should be no comparisons made in these departments. I am an okay cook, decent butler, yet would fail the most basic Emily Post white-glove inspection.
Selective breeding among male Throops carried on fairly well without me for 56,000 years, and then Rose and I came along and upset the stream. Damned it up good and proper, I’d say, for I haven’t gone a day in my adult life without some manner of confusion about my place and role(s) in a society that worships nothing but abstractions—namely, money.
To say I am an anxious person would be a gross understatement. I am more like an outwardly successful squirrel, yet unsatisfied with myself in a world of squirrels that covets and adores a mutual abstraction. Squirrels around me who act like squirrels day after day, accumulating nuts, building impressive nests, braving seasons and storms, but underlying every accomplishment is the pressing desire to accumulate the abstraction that will make the squirrel a new squirrel, refined prince or princess in squirrel kingdom. I am infected with the abstraction also, which makes me a constantly dissatisfied squirrel. Let’s say this abstraction occupying us squirrels practically night and day is the desire to accumulate human manufactured snow-globes. Many generations ago, some wise and economically trained squirrel scribes thought to create a falling leaf money supply to ease and simplify transactions among squirrels of Squirreldom, however knowing the ubiquitous existence of trees, sought a limited, countable base currency to give an abstract value to something that was readily available in Squirreldom—leaves. Leaf banks opened up practically overnight, followed by upstanding squirrels founding colleges and universities, the development of a million acceptable leaf-paying occupations (none of them nut gathering), and finally a culturally devastating, squirrel-separating atomization.
Anyway, I had a dream last night, my last one about money if hope can help it. I was at Donald Trump’s next wedding and the cheapskate expected a gift. 60 dollars is a lot when you can’t make that in a month from painting. Rose’s brother from D.C. was there with his wife telling her in a false admiring, deeply condescending way, that it was “too cool” that I painted—Oh, but I could see the mockery in his eyes and hear it in the tone of his voice. Shamed again! And not for the last time that night. After the gifts were laid out for all and sundry to see, Trump had my gift, a painting, taken out and thrown in the trash. Rose confided to me that she provided a back-up without my knowledge—a Samsung® tablet for the new bride. I was so mad. I stormed out of the tent and went to sleep on a servant’s cot in some nearby dusty garage.
Faith that my marriage is secure, I intend to reach my end beating to death inside me this false god money. Whenever I have deep doubt, (and that is as often as dinner), I will take that negative energy and with it, push as hard as I can into a positive dream. This money god has got all of us squirrels absolutely frazzled. All my nuts aren’t secure, but I know where to find them. I had no faith in gods. I want no faith in money. I’ll play my faith at this marriage and focus my dreams on a persistent present moment. I will continue to write and paint erratically, like a squirrel caught both ways in the road.
Friends, family, and safe acquaintances, please continue to buy the paintings I paint and books that I write. Heck, $50 is “better than a sharp stick in the eye”, as my bodhisattva wife often proclaims. I leave you now with a few paintings by me and a song by someone else.
“In November, 2051, Rose Will Be Out in the Backyard ‘Digging a Goldfish Pond’. Just Wave, and Carry On” 2017. Acrylic on Alexey’s packaging particle board, 12 x 16″
Please look the other way, and just listen….
“Alabama Island” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 21″
“Just Like This Popular 1940’s Cultural Meme, Good Hygiene is a Rare Find Today Among Basement Painters” 2017. Acrylic on 1950’s linen dish rag, 21 x 21″
2017. Acrylic on loose canvas, 41 x 13″
My friend and I are submitting to a regional show with the theme “abstraction”. I think I will frame this under glass, and sell it for less than what it cost me to make. The frame will be the big expense. It’s usually the case. I just want to see if Americans will barter or purchase a luxury item—it’s visible worth not even detected as a tiny greed smear on a corporito’s brain scan—even when it’s priced cheaper than a Denny’s® brunch and a few gallons of gasoline.
I do not fool myself about the material value of this painting. It is what it is. Canvas, paints, brush use, light overhead, man, man’s thoughts, man’s moods, man’s dreams, man’s hope, and man’s hands in his pockets—No, wait. After “man” it’s mostly a squat pile of private abstract suffering. And very few besides a friend or two would pretend to want a material representation of that big idea!
I can’t blame them!
And yet, people would want it, even more than shaving cream, if people’s desires were real and not abstractions. Not so much in want of the painting as any true thought, true feeling, true expression of another man or woman cut up into pieces, and each piece set on a cultural conveyor belt of behavior controlled and monitored by abstractions.
People would want it if they trusted men.
I don’t trust them either, hence the painting, another in an endless bombardment of material representations of Americans worship of abstraction.
And maybe after my demise, someone will pay a few thousand dollars for that “forest stream” painting. Provided the post-mortem marketing team is sharp and can make some abstract tool think valuable a material fool.
“Of Itself So” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“Back Home, the Hawk Got Windowed by a Cat” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“Carry On Regardless” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″(plein air)
“I Am a Useful Fiction” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“The Homeless Man Gets Mocked by his Own Sky” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“After the Capitalists Leave South Florida” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″
“The Lackluster Tornado Run Through the Tree of Cities” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“There are Too Many Waste Pipes Connected in Bonita Springs” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″ (plein air)