"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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Oklahoma Dust Bowl, watercolor challenge

"Dust Bowl Oklahoma," 5 by 7 watercolor, 300 Lb. d'Arches
"I got them dust bowl blues..."
                                                                                          --Woody Guthrie

"...a red sun appeared, a dim red circle that gave a little light, like dusk..."
                                           --Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck
Today's painting, and my thoughts, in the Oklahoma series probably won't be the favorite of any one, except me, but the watercolor crosses into what I think art should be ... more than a pretty picture, something that tells a story, that "means" and is relevant.
Oklahomans today seem to  forget and ignore what our families went through in the Great Depression, when greed and abuse of the land caused a national and international crisis for everyone, especially working people.
Only Depression art in photography, fiction, music and painting captured the truth of that suffering. Steinbeck, Guthrie, Lange, WPA artists, they all told stories. Out of crisis comes art.
Europeans invading this continent have abused the land and its residents--human and animal,  forever, spurred by greed and committing genocide in God's name--thinking the land was meant to be plundered for profit until worn out. Whether cotton and slavery in the South, coal in Appalachia, mining in the West, water on the llano Estacado, or exterminating the buffalo or plowing up the sod in the Great Plains, the results have been the same.  
It's pathetically ironic that these "God-fearing" people despised  Native Americans' respect for the natural world as part of something sacred, to be respected because all are part of one creation. Instead those who believed their god was everywhere saw no sin in harming the natural world, even though that was harming themselves. This is more than Transcendentalism, though Emerson, et. al., had it right. 
Science has proved that we're all connected, even though the current president and his "environment" leader--an Okie who should know better--reject science and the health of our country and planet.  Again, their view is the planet is there for  selfish use and profit, nothing more--no respect for the land, or care for the future. Nothing has changed since the Conquistadors were the first to arrive 525 years ago.
Abuse the land, abuse nature--refusing to accept the world's peril of climate change, of rising temperatures because of greed--you abuse "god," and therefore every creature and the future. This isn't politics, it's history and science, and real religion.
What will happen when the oil and the water is gone, when you abuse "god"? The Dust Bowl will happen again.
"Paint what you feel," wrote one artist. This is what I feel. It started deep inside, and welled up, the image, the thoughts, the art, then the painting, and finally these words. They won't be favorites--but they're mine.
Day 10, #WorldWatercolorMonth challenge.
Palette--Burnt and Raw Umber, Sepia, Alizarine Crimson

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