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Friday, April 1, 2005
(7:21 pm)

Long day. Got my collàges installed. What I've heard so far has been favorable. Nothing sold as yet. The month is still young.

Quote of the Day: "The truth is not always the same as the majority decision. " -- Pope John Paul II

His hour upon this stage is nearly done. His work, like the work of all of us is not complete, nor can anyone's work ever be complete. He has done what he thought and believed was right and for that it is hard to fault him. While history may prove him wrong and even dunderheaded in some instances, the current shape of his being is as good as any on the planet, for in his heart he has followed what he believes to be the proper course. If Karol Wojtyla has any regrets or feels in any way that his time on Earth was used in the wrong way, that is for him to carry with him to his grave, and for us, if we are Catholics, to pray for him in Purgatory.

Sweet Dreams Karol Wojtyla.


Monday, April 4, 2005
(6:08 pm)

Doctor's appointment today, X-rays tomorrow, podiatrist on Wednesday. I've got the Medical Establishment blues. . .

Quote of the Day: "The enemy is not conservatism. The enemy is not liberalism. The enemy is bullshit. " -- Lars Eric Nelson

The death of the Pope has me thinking a lot about religion and how it relates to the mess the world is in today -- and it's definitely not the lack of religion being involved in politics that causes the disaster we're living through. More likely the opposite. If I can manage to assemble coherent thoughts and arrange them in a consistently logical manner, I may eventually exposit some of my cogitation on the subject.


Thursday, April 7, 2005
(10:10 am)

I struggle with the impetus that propels me to art. It's a strong urge, but without the courtesy to come with instructions. I suppose I should have gone to school for this congenital affliction I have, in order to understand it and direct it in productive and rewarding channels. Of course there's always the chance that such a choice would have made of me a copyist, someone who perpetuated instead of innovated. I really don't have a clue (about most things, actually).

I read and try to understand artists whom I admire and think of as pushing art forward, or dragging it behind them to the next thing, kicking and screaming. It's like I've said many, many times (perhaps not here), the most interesting things come at borders, where one thing changes into another, the juxtaposition, the decay of one thing-birth of another. In literature, in art, it's the same -- the tension between opposites, the balance of that which was and that which will be is what provides the subject matter, the compositional brilliance, the technical challenge of art. Where you find boundaries, look long and hard and perhaps the art will reveal itself to you.

Right now, I'm struggling with art, trying to discover the next boundary, the next border, the next place where art is hidden, wanting to reveal itself to me.

Quote of the Day: "Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery. " -- Pope John Paul II

John Paul II was an emminently quotable man. I just didn't agree with a lot of his policy ideas. The church may be built on the rock of St. Peter, but any living thing that does not change, does not adapt to the changing climate somewhat is like the stalk that would not bow to the wind. **snap**


Sunday, April 10, 2005
(1:22 pm)

I finished my first piece on Clayboard®. I carved the outlines of the areas I wanted to paint, using an engraving scribe and a Speedball® lino cutter. Then I painted it with acrylic paint. I'm not sure if I'm done with it or whether I even like the piece. I made some mistakes with it and it's nothing like anything I usually do, so I'm not even going to sign it, except maybe on the back. Anyway, here it is. I'm happy with the basic design, but little else.

Acrylic and carving on 5" X 7" Textured Clayboard®
"Another Stab That Drew Little Blood"

You can see that the darker circles are too dark, too much akin to black. You may have noticed that the circles are supposed to be the colors of the spectrum. Better luck next time.

Quote of the Day: "The fearless are merely fearless. People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave. " -- James A. LaFond-Lewis

I think part of the problem with the above piece is that I haven't painted in a very long time. I've done other art -- drawing and collàge and other things -- but no painting to speak of. I should work more on regaining my painting skills before proceeding, eh?

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Today is gorgeous as well. I may take off with my cameras in tow sometime this afternoon. I did that for a while yesterday.

Digital Camera Image [2005_0409Image0008]
"Pink Tears"

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
(10:40 am)

A headline in the New York Times (e-mail edition) read "Americans understand that the only way to retire comfortably is to save much more money. So why don't we? " The answer is simple: advertising! In a world where everybody has to have a racket, a gimmick, some sort of edge to "make it," advertising for these products and services has run amok. The atmosphere in the US is such that shopping, not baseball, has become the national pastime. Our entire social lives seem to occur in K-Mart, Wal-Mart, the mall, and JC Penny's. Without shopping, we'd have no social lives, and of course, the advertisers, knowing this well, appeal to us with a constant bombardment from every conceivable source (and some we'd never have imagined). In other countries, some television commercials run to two and a half minutes, perhaps even five minutes. Here, many are 10 seconds long, appealing to our ADHD mentality. We can't save money because we aren't allowed to pay attention long enough to think about it. That, and the price of gasoline. . .

Quote of the Day: "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." -- William James

Today I'm feeling that existential nausea that Sartre spoke of so frequently. I'm torn between what I want and what I believe, between desire and principle. Those things which we hold most dear are hardest to compromise, even in the face of wanting something else very badly -- ergo, nausea. It's that sick feeling when you want to do one thing yet every part of you says it's wrong. The rest of the world may see nothing at all wrong with it, but deep inside you know it's not right and there's nothing you can do to change it and giving in to it would hurt worse than the current state of affairs. Confused? Excellent!

Perhaps a word or two of explanation is in order. Several people have been encouraging me to enter one (or more) of my collàges in the Appalachian Corridors juried exhibition at the Clay Center. That would be nice to get in that show, as it draws from 13 states. The problems I have with it are several. One, how can they call it a juried show when there is only one juror? Wouldn't that leave the selection entirely up to her taste and aesthetic sense? I find that when multiple people choose the items for a show, the selection tends to be more diverse, higher quality, and more interesting. One person does not a jury make.

Second, there is a $25.00 entry fee. This is mainly what rankles me. I have the cash. What I don't have is the desire to give it to someone for the privilege of being judged. Of all the people who enter this "contest" the only ones who will make their money back are those who either win prizes ($20,000 in cash award, number and amount to be decided by the juror), or a purchase award, or if someone sees their work and buys it. For most people, this will mean giving the Clay Center $25.00 and receiving nothing whatsoever in return. For the greater part of the people who get into the show, even, there will be no recompense at all. What's right about this? It's the same as Bush taking apart the social safety net to give tax breaks to the rich. Here we have certain artists whose work is better, as determined by one person, being subsidized by those who put the $25.00 into the pot. Additionally they have the expense of slides or CD's, mats, frames, transportation and/or shipping. To enter a show is a not-insignificant outlay with no promise of return, regardless of how good your work might be.

Third, why is it that the life of an artist is supposed to be a constant contest? Other professions aren't subjected to this lingering uncertainty. The gas company doesn't offer their services with no direct and irrevocable promise of recompense. Why is being an artist different? Artists are perpetually treated as children, made to perform for the adults without any compensation for the performance other than scant praise. It's illegal in this and most states to have a contest that the entrant must pay a fee to enter. Why are art "contests" any different? I'm almost certain to get a better rate of return on scratch-off lottery tickets.

Fourth, the requirements for the pieces to be entered in most juried shows are such that the piece everyone thinks I should enter would be ineligible. To quote from the online prospectus:

All artwork must be original, completed within the last two years and not previously exhibited in Charleston, West Virginia. Accepted artwork may be withheld from the exhibition at the discretion of the Museum if the artwork is misrepresented by the slide, has inadequate framing or hanging devices, is damaged upon arrival or is deemed hazardous to public safety. [emphasis mine]

Well, that pretty much leaves the piece of mine that everyone likes out of the running. For one thing, it was completed in 2001. Hey, that's no problem, a couple strokes of the pen and a slight alteration would make it having been finished in 2004. The other problem is that it is currently on display with twenty-some other of my collàges on a main street downtown. And what's the deal with display in Charleston being the only disqualifier? It's okay to have previously displayed it, say, in New York City where the The Juror might have had more of a chance to see it. Displaying it in Dunbar is okay? Still, I could whip something similar up between now and the May first deadline, frame it and get a slide or CD made. It's the idea of paying for the privilege of most likely having my work either rejected by the jury of one or doomed to hang on the wall, admired but unpurchased. Sometimes when you get slapped down enough times, you don't even want to get back up, especially when you see there's really very little point to it anyway anymore.


Saturday, April 16, 2005
(12:43 pm)

It's a bright and beautiful day. Spring is blooming in all its glory and I can't take my cameras and go anywhere to do anything about it. The van is on the blink. I barely made it home a while ago after taking it out for a test run to see if it was still acting up like it was last night. Yep. Worse.

Sometimes I feel like just giving up. My computer is on the verge of collapse. The van is dying. The washing machine and dryer are on the downward slope. My stereo is now 13 years old, so I expect it to join the ranks of the lame and infirm soon, too, and hey, my collàge show is being well received, but nothing has sold. I thought I had them priced to sell, without sacrificing my dignity too much. Guess not. I have two potential web clients. Yeah, that'll work out.

Quote of the Day: "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of that dead land. . ." -- Thomas Stearns Eliot

Nothing about my lawsuit/insurance claim. I haven't talked to my lawyer in over a month. I guess I can forget about that as well. There's always the lottery. Hey, can I borrow a dollar? I'll pay you back from my winnings.


Thursday, April 21, 2005
(6:29 pm)

It was tempting to wish Herr Hitler and my dad a happy birthday yesterday, but I resisted. Spring is a month old now, and my mood hasn't improved much.

Quote of the Day: "This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. " -- Chief Seattle, in a letter to the President in 1852

I'm dieting and dieting and losing precious little weight. It turns out four of the medications I'm taking either imhibit weight loss, promote weight gain, or both. I can't win.

Digital Camera Image (cropped) [2005_0419Image0012-2]
"Seeds of Sedition"

Sunday, April 24, 2005
(12:48 pm)

There are so many people who proclaim that our destiny is in our own hands, that the decisions we make determine the outcome of our lives. The icons of the NeoCon culture, while mostly being born into privilege, loudly declare that we must "take responsibility" for ourselves. We must invest in our own futures and not depend on the government to catch us if we fall. Well, that's all fine and good, but the Universe really doesn't work that way. So many times I've seen where arbitrary decisions have led people to riches and fame. I've also seen people follow all the "rules," make what seemed, at the time, to be the proper decisions to insure success, yet fall flat, plunge headlong into despair and degradation. In my own case, the decisions I've made have been essentially good ones, but my timing was off in nearly every case. Add to that my misfortune in breaking my leg and having it not heal properly for whatever reason, picking most likely the wrong attorney to pursue a remedy, and other ancillary catastrophes and you have despondency born of optimistic enthusiasm. Today's quote folds nicely into this batter:

Quote of the Day: "The threads of circumstance that lead to tomorrow are so tenuous that all the fussing and worrying about decisions is futile compared to the pure randomness of existence. And I must admit I like that. I like it that my career has all the predictability and continuity of a children's nonsense rhyme. " -- Nick Bantock, In The Artful Dodger, p. 5

I read Walter Cronkite's autobiography. His life seemed like one of easy travel. His path met with nothing that deterred him from his journey. It was as if he had a rulebook and a map to life, something of which they neglected to even inform me of its existence. So many others travel to success simply and easily, while the greater majority struggle to gain the barest distance. I know people whose luck is astounding, and mostly these people are dolts or jerks. They're just lucky. As someone once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good." Many others have expressed that sentiment over the intervening years. Add my name to that list!

Digital Camera Image [2005_0419Image0007]

Last week it was spring. This morning it was snowing! I hate this weather. Makes me hurt. . .


Wednesday, April 27, 2005
(4:30 pm)

I've been feeling kinda rough the past couple or three days. Right now I'm fighting the urge to go lie down until my puncturing at 6:00. Tomorrow's the big day -- signing a lease on this hole for another year. I wonder if he's going to pitch a bitch at my studio being set up in here, or raise the rent, or get bent out of shape because Sean is living here, sleeping in the basement room. Best to just not worry about it until it happens, eh?

Quote of the Day: "If you're going through hell, keep going."
-- Winston Churchill

My friend Emily sent me an envelope in an envelope yesterday. The envelope inside was addressed to me at the Jackson Street address (where I really wish we still lived) and dated 2003. On the envelope was a delicately done Prismacolor drawing. Emily has such a nice touch with pencils. Attached was a Post-It with a note: "JMM -- Apparently I had a thought back in 2003. Found this stuck in a book. Wonder what it was."

Prismacolor on Envelope -- copy; Emily 2003
"Past Perfect"

The scan isn't the best, but I think you can see a little of her skill. The background on the original is the most lovely violet, almost looks airbrushed. Thanks, Em!


Thursday, April 28, 2005
(4:19 pm)

There was a nice bit in the morning paper about my display of collàges at Pro-Art. It was in The Gazz section. There was a picture of one of the pieces, too, but they seem to be stingy with their ink at the morning paper, so it turned out a little pale. Not to worry, though, the online version is just fine.

Quote of the Day: "The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you." -- B. B. King

The van is sick, probably dying. It barely makes it up the hill. My brother-in-law can't figure out what its problem is. We don't have the money to take it to anyone else, besides, it's probably not worth that much anyway. I really wish it would run right. I really like that van. Now I'm stranded on this hillside, dependent on everyone else's schedules to go anywhere. I have to take down my show Monday and have an MRI. I have no idea how I'm going to get there. It will be difficult to impossible for me to even climb over the hill to get to a bus route. This thoroughly sucks.


Friday, April 29, 2005
(1:05 pm)

I used to be comfortable in my skin. I felt good being by myself. I got lots of work done, accomplished much, even if what I accomplished was merely mundane or of value only to myself. Now, I just feel lonely. I accomplish little. I can't seem to get started. I can't seem to find the time to make art or even do the little chores I used to find fulfilling. The feeling of strandedness doesn't help either. Neither does the constant fluctuation of my vision. I just don't feel right in my isolation; where before it would have been welcome solitude.

Quote of the Day: "How can you be two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?" -- Firesign Theater

I got a new printer at K-Mart before the van gave out. It's a Lexmark Z-615. Nice! This is my third Lexmark. First I had a 5700, which was nice. But, one time when I went to Wal-Mart to get ink cartridges for it, I found a new printer, the Z-32 for less than the price of the ink for the 5700, so I bought it. Now, I have the Z-615 for about the same price as the Z-32, but it has four times the resolution as the older model -- 4800 dpi as compared to 1200 dpi for the Z-32. I still have the Z-32 hooked up, mainly for use as a draft printer, leaving the final product to the Z-615. I wish I had more room so I could arrange things better, though. I could hook up the 5700, too if I had space, although I really don't know why I'd want to do that. I should probably get rid of it on Freecycle or something.

Everything I draw today ends up in the trash can. Everything I do on the computer ends with the delete key or an answer of no to the question, "Do you want to Save this?". And it's raining.


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