"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

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."

Reflecting on autumn colors

Reflections--11" by 15" watercolor, 300 # d'Arches
The leaves are just starting to turn here, but it won't be long. The mums are bright, the air crisp, the skies brilliant, the days shorter. Photographs from the mountain west of the aspen already quaking and golden, or from the northeast of the hardwoods in vivid varieties of color  whet  anticipation and wet the paintbrush..

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thinking back on Henry Bellmon--a real Republican

Oklahoma's first Republican governor, and later Senator, Henry Bellmon, died five years ago this past week. He was on my mind as I've visited and written about his homestead, now Turtle Rock Farm, near Billings.

Here's a version of what I wrote five years ago for The Oklahoma Gazette.

A real Republican

By Dr. Terry M. Clark

“He had the courage to be honest.”
That was Henry Bellmon, remembered by the irascible Ben Blackstock, former executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association.
Bellmon, elected the first Republican governor of Oklahoma in 1962, died last week at age 88, leaving a legacy of independence and integrity. Heralded as a father to the GOP in Oklahoma, his leadership transformed Oklahoma into a two-party state, reaching its pinnacle this decade when Republicans gained control of the legislature.
I first heard about Bellmon from the “Ring the Bell for Bellmon” signs as a freshman at the conservative Oklahoma Christian  College, coming here from New Mexico. As then a member of the Young Republicans and a disciple of Goldwater (I still know he was right), I was delighted when Bellmon won.
It might be easy for folks who didn’t know him well to have failed to appreciate Henry Bellmon’s greatness. Ask his contemporaries about him, and their anecdotes could fill books. You’d find that his greatness came not from being a politician or a Republican, but from his character and intelligence.
If any one item embodied Bellmon’s style, it was the title of his weekly newspaper column, “Plainly Speaking.” There wasn’t anything fancy about Bellmon. Didn’t need to be for the wheat farmer and U.S. Marine combat veteran from Billings.
Blackstock and Don Ferrell, former publisher of the Lincoln County News in Chandler who worked with Bellmon in several jobs, know him better than most.
“He worked hard. He figured everyone else should too,” Ferrell said, recalling the long hours. In the last year of Bellmon’s term as U.S. Senator, Ferrell was press secretary and had to be at work by 7 a.m. in Washington, and couldn’t leave until it was 5 p.m. Oklahoma time…”to serve the people of Oklahoma.”
You never heard the terms “liberal” or “conservative” bandied about by Bellmon. Ferrell said he wanted the “best ideas.” That independence was his trademark on two controversial issues—the Panama Canal, and HB 1017.
When the rabidly emotional vote came up on the Panama Canal Treaty, Bellmon was the swing vote. Despite huge pressure from Oklahoma, he knew the canal was indefensible. Ferrell was in the office the day President Carter called. Bellmon wouldn’t answer, because he was going to make up his own mind. He came home to "Benedict Bellmon” billboards.
Because he wasn’t an ideologue, he consistently had more problems with his own party in state politics.
“Republicans gnashed their teeth at him,” said Blackstock, especially on the education reform bill 1017. Bellmon couldn’t get but a few Republicans to support it, but worked with the Democratic legislature to overhaul the public education system. It’s hard to imagine how much worse shape Oklahoma’s education system would be in without Bellmon’s leadership.
Ferrell said Bellmon would be pleased with the Republicans coming to power, but didn’t talk about its current religious right slant. Blackstock said someone asked Bellmon about the party’s “drift” back in January.
“All he did was shake his head—and it wasn’t up or down,” Blackstock said.
Looking back over 48 years of friendship, Ferrell said simply, “He remade the state.”
Don’t call Bellmon a “maverick,” because that Texas term for unbranded cattle was profaned by Palin’s fakery last year. It’s become a cliché. Bellmon was no cliché. We need a new term to describe his kind of politician.

 It’d be an honor to be described as… “a Bellmon.”
-30-

Today's P.S. Please oh please give us more politicians like Bellmon, no matter what party they represent.

Pelican invasion!

One of my favorite blogs is at Turtle Rock Farm, rural Billings, a center for sustainability run by Henry Bellmon's daughters, where we attended a mindfulness retreat in early September. Here are those posts, including a visitation by a roadrunner. 
One of several terrific photos from Turtle Rock Farm.
Today they posted beautiful shots of pelicans landing and fishing in their pond. Don't miss it.
Pelican Photography

Blogging right along

 A few Coffee with Clark blog stats
Since May, 2009 when it started
Total posts--1,611
Total page views--157,226
Most page views in a month--May, 2014--7,896

Leading page views by country
Country                      Page Views

United States
93020
China
8908
Germany
6040
France
5255
Russia
4838
Ukraine
4362
United Kingdom
3345
Turkey
1357
Canada
1112
Spain
939

Leading Monthly Posts
August, 2009--76
July, 2009--70
January, 2010--56
December, 2013--39
Posts by years
2014--227 so far
2013--252
2012--203
2011--135
2010--292
2009--339
Favorite posts
(What is it about trains?)
2837








Aug 10, 2010, 1 comment
1813








May 27, 2012
1750








1416








May 30, 2012
1295








1288








1133








Dec 22, 2010, 1 comment
1012








857








835

























Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Internationally speaking, or writing

If you're interested, here are the countries, by continents, who have had readers click on Coffee with Clark over the years, in addition to the five in the previous post.
 Africa--Libya, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Tunisia, Togo, Mauritania, Mali, South Africa,  Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea 
Asia--China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong,  Bhutan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mongolia, Nepal, Kazakhstan

Central America--Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras
Caribbean--Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Sint Maartin, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Caymans, Bahamas

 Europe--Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, F.Y.R.O.Macedonia, Malta, Moldova,  Monaco,  Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia,  Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
 Indian Ocean--Maldives, Mauritius
Mideast--Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon
 
North America--US, Canada, Mexico
Oceania--Guam, Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Fiji, Philippines, Indonesia
South America--Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana, Guyana, Uruguay

The blog at 130 "countries"--Las Vegas east

  • 2-14--Palestine
  • 5-14--El Salvador
  • 8-14-Albania
  • 8-14--Liechtenstein
  • 10-3--Macau
I am continually amazed at the people around the world who click on this blog--I wish I knew who they were, and their stories. More than a year ago, I started running short posts about those countries, with brief histories, maps, stories and photos, but got "blogged" down.
And frankly, being a goal-oriented type A journalist, I slacked off because I assumed I'd about reached the limit of reach for Coffee with Clark.
I do check the stats on the blog almost daily, and have been meaning to write about more readership from Ukraine and Hong Kong, those places where freedom is under attack from authoritarian despots and brave people are risking their lives for what we Americans take for granted. More on that later.
But this week, a reader from Macau, the former Portuguese colony near Honk Kong, became someone from the 130th  country to at list click on the blog. Macau, a former hell-hole of sin, was ceded back to China in 1999 the same year Britain give up Hong Kong, which is only 64 kilometers east of it.
Macau's flag
It, with Hong Kong, is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China. With an estimated population of around 624,000 in an area of 31 square kilometers, it is the most densely populated region on the planet.
It is also the richest, and in 2006 became the world's largest gambling center, dwarfing Las Vegas.
Communist authoritarian China leaves it alone, at least so far, because of the the money (as it has Hong Kong until the current crisis.) Under the policy of "one country, two systems," China is responsible for the defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy.
At the top of this post are the other countries where citizens have clicked on the blog for the first time this year--Palestine (another area of suffering), El Salvador, Albania and Liechtenstein.
If you're interested, here is my earlier post on Hong Kong from March a year ago.



Blog clog

Too much to write about in the past week, but posts on several topics are coming:
1. Went to see City Rep's "Grapes of Wrath" play at OCU Sunday. Astounding, moving. On the 75th anniversary of Steinbeck's book, I found this play perhaps the most powerful I've seen.
2. Attended the opening of Mark Zimmerman's photo show of his wife Meredith's battle with cancer, one I consider of national significance.
3. The blog at 130--Coffee with Clark just registered a reader from the 130th country to click on it...Macau.
4. News stories cropping up about the gun nuts wanting students to be able to carry guns on campus. What a tom-fool, stupid idea, of 18-year-olds being able to blow away a classroom and a prof. If it happens, I will lead a strike of professors to abandon the classrooms. Or, I will pack a gun, place it at the front of the class  in front of me, pointed at the students. The minute some pistol packing pouty, pimple-faced teeny looks like he's upset and twitches, I will take appropriate action.
Is this what these Neanderthals really want? What has happened to the fabric of our society? More coming.
5. Turns out Bill Bennett, Reagan's cultural warrior, was right, in railing against the way student financial aid is administered, saying it just allowed universities to raise tuition, and not help poorer kids. Terrific article in the NY Times about that today...college in the US is the highest priced, and while graduation rates are oaring elsewhere, they're not up much here. Here's the link: Missing the mark.
6. Australia is considering  a ban on "Hate preachers" entering the country. Doesn't apply to Australians. Quote: "By all means, let Australians who want to say stupid things can say stupid things, but there's no point in importing troublemakers." Amen.
7. More and more evidence shows that  turning off the phone, TV and tablet, and reading ink on paper helps your health and children learn to read.
8. Quote from a Christian student: "Saying all Muslims are like Isis is like saying all Christians are like Westboro Baptist Church." Amen, amen.
9. The fear-mongering media and the ebola crisis, and fears of Muslims. People wearing masks in Dallas? Ebola is not airborne--I asked a doctor. Media are flat out irresponsible on this.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mortality and a journey, watercolor

One of the haunting photos I've taken, and written about, was this one from last December, "Mortality on my Mind," of this old gentleman walking slowly through Hafer Park. I saw him more than once, and he had a dog along. Talk about being mindful and enjoying every moment--this guy gives me inspiration. Here's that link: "Mortality."
And thus, as another year nears end, I tried painting that journey, that mortality, the metaphors of paths and autumn and gates, that we all travel.
"Mortality," 5 by 7 watercolor, 140# d'Arches

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An afternoon walk--watercolor

"Afternoon" walk,  4" by 5" watercolor
Autumn afternoons  are cool and bright these days, clouds floating overhead, a path before us as we take in the passing of another year. Alone in our thoughts perhaps, but you can't help but be aware of a larger creation where all life is both sacred and simultaneous. What you see, smell and hear reveals a universe linked as one organism, but as fleeting as the seasons and afternoon shadows.
As the years go by, I'm more than aware of the multiple metaphors of a solitary afternoon autumn walk.