A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper personal column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, with readers in 131 countries.-- Sunrise on the old Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Art that matters

(Hint, click on the links for more information later, they're important, but not as important as my story of an artist who matters.)

"Everyone wants to matter, to be important," I've said many times, talking with colleagues about students.
I'm a slow learner, but know we're all on the same journey.
As I was reading some old short stories by Ray Bradbury, "Golden Apples of the Sun," and have read some poetry and two other books in the last week, I kept thinking to myself, "I want to write something that matters."
"Changing Seasons" by Bud Caldwell--art that matters
Last week we attended the Open Minds art show for the Colby Foundation, to benefit people with mental illness, thanks to friend Ted Streuli, editor of the Journal Record, for whom the subject is intensely personal, having lost an adopted son. Read the links later.
It was downtown Oklahoma City, with more than 50 works of art by 28 artists in the juried show. We wandered in and out, visiting with journalism friends, drinking wine and enjoying the violin music and food.
The foundation and one of the show's benefactors, the National Alliance on Mental Illness emphasizes mental illnesses are like all others...diseases of the body, and not a stigma.
The artwork was mesmerizing. Beside or underneath each piece was the name of the art, the name of the artist, and the mental illnesses the artist endured or suffered.
I soon realized it didn't matter if it said "schizophrenic,""bipolar," "depressive," or whatever, it didn't matter. These were incredibly talented PEOPLE. I have a "frozen shoulder" that is being worked on. My wife has a kidney stone scheduled for lithotripsy. So? What is the difference? None.
I found one piece that aroused my interest as an artist, and was in my price range. "Changing Seasons" by Bud Caldwell. It was an 8" by 10"abstract acrylic. Not emotionally per se, but as an artist, I could see it in our house. It tells me art matters, emotionally for eternity.
So I bought it, and shortly afterward, this gentleman with a trimmed gray beard came up and said he'd painted it, and this was one of his first in a juried show. I was honored to meet him, got his card, and we chatted, about his technique and art.  
Bud Caldwell, whose card for "Selective Arts" advertises "Contemporary, Abstract and Native American Art," was a discovery of someone who matters. If you need artwork, contact him at blc317@att.net. I'm envious of his talent. His work reminded me that people with these various disorders are just like the rest of us...various illnesses, but people with incredible talent.
Artist Bud, me and his painting, and Ted
I want to paint something that matters, that withstands and outlives me--I guess I have, but I've found something else that matters--meeting a new talented artist, perhaps his first juried show, and being able to share in his vision.
Then, Ted wrote this sentence in his column yesterday about one piece he bought.
Art that matters, and writing that matters:
"I wouldn't say it spoke to me; it was more like it shoved a hand into my chest, grabbed my heart, and squeezed until it cried."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The death penalty, questions

I know much of the world, including friends and other  "liberals" in this country, are appalled that many states in America still have a "death penalty," marking us  as uncivilized, and alongside the atrocities of certain totalitarian (North Korea) and fundamentalist religious countries elsewhere, especially in the "Mideast."
I'm no longer a "conservative"--whatever that means--and  am ambivalent about the death penalty. I know it has been used unjustly and racially in this country, and I'm opposed to that. I also know that it often costs more to eventually execute a person than put them away for life. Given the "political atrocity" and embarrassment in Oklahoma with Mary Fallin's hurry-up attitude in the last execution, concerns about the death penalty are usually justified.
But.
Sometimes there are crimes of such horror, of such evil, that I believe a death penalty is more than justified.
 I know that we're not in the Old West anymore, where rustlers and criminals can be hanged on the spot, as in "Lonesome Dove," and the changes to our legal system are the marks of a more civilized society. Technology is changing all of this also. When we have video-taped and other digital evidence of some of these crimes, I contend it is infantile and ridiculous to refer to such criminals as "suspects."
When there is no doubt, stand by what the Constitution calls for,  a "speedy" trial.
Sometimes evil needs to be eradicated. Why should evil that causes so much misery be allowed to live on taxpayer dollars?  Timothy McVeigh? Hitler? Osama Ben Laden? Or an Oklahoma son who murders his family? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I paint

Art...I've been around it all my life, and it seems I've only recently began painting. Glancing back through old black and white photos makes me realize that's not so. 
I remember getting in trouble in grade school in New Mexico for drawing in class rather than paying attention. But it's only natural, growing up in the home of my Dad Terrence Miller Clark, who was an uncanny portrait artist from Oklahoma who could draw anyone and anything, and a landscape painter. His work hung all over our house when we grew up, and my brother and I still have much of it hanging on our walls or in storage.
I still have his old metal paintbox, with some aged oil paints, out in the garage and Susan has been urging me to try oils rather than just watercolors. I suppose that is in the near future. I do so love the smell of oil paint.
But I know I chose watercolors a few years ago because the opportunity arose to take lessons, I needed therapy, and I wasn't in "competition" with my Dad's work.
Still, I'm sorry it took me so long to "come back" to art...getting away from the type-A career-oriented workaholic I was. 
I found this 3" by 4" photo, dated 1947, of me with watercolors at age three and four in Fort Worth, Texas, , painting. And then here's Susan's 4.5" by 6.5" sketch of that. They both hang on the wall in front of me when I paint. 
I guess that's why I paint.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Saluting Ukraine--fighting for survival

I painted this back in March, when Russia's dictator Putin invaded this peaceful land, annexing part of it. The struggle continues and innocent people are suffering. It symbolizes the Ukraine's flag, being invaded by blood and bars.
I reprint this to call attention to those brave people who so value freedom, trying, alone, to withstand the new Hitler. They serve as examples for us Americans who take our freedoms too much for granted, I think.
During the past week, there have been more readers of this blog from Ukraine than any other country, save the U.S.  Now I know the following term is also the name of one of Ukraine's political parties, but this is merely a salute to your dedication to 
"Freedom."
Свобода
Svoboda

Thank you.

Autumn brilliance

Brilliance--11 by 15 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
No matter how much you try to capture the brilliance of autumn, you usually fall short, but this is much closer, as my wife Susan (art critic number two after me)  urged me to "Use more brilliant colors."