Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Solo Exhibit at Tennessee Tech

I just got back from a trip to Cookeville, Tennessee, to hang and open a solo show of my "Meditation on War" paintings at Tennessee Tech. This was a big thrill for me. One reason, of course, is that it's always good to get a solo show of your work, particularly in a primo location like a university. Another reason is that I'm a Tennessee Tech alumnus: I got a mechanical engineering degree from there in 1977. Way back then, I spent a good bit of time in that very gallery and saw pretty much every show. Never thought that one day my own paintings would hang there! I gave a gallery talk on Tuesday afternoon and we had a really good turnout, with a very interested crowd that asked a lot of very good questions. Very enjoyable.
While in Cookeville, I got to see some old friends. Art and Wanda were close friends from our sports car club days and don't seem to have changed a bit - they're a hoot and we laughed our butts off at old and new stories. Then Filomena showed up at the gallery talk. She also doesn't seem to have changed much - maybe a bit of very distinguished gray in her hair, but otherwise the same look, the same voice, the same ol' Fil. Except she came armed with incriminating photos of me from the mid-70's! It was really great to see Art, Wanda, and Fil again after too many years.
Another thing I did there was wander around the town and see what's different. I finally decided that Cookeville hasn't changed much. It's grown, especially around the interstate exits, but once you're away from there, it seemed to be pretty much the same place. And I found that memory is a funny thing. I'd be driving along and would see something and it would trigger a memory of something that happened there. And for those of you who wear glasses, you've probably had the experience of having your glasses a bit wonky, and how that confuses your brain as it tries to sort out conflicting information from your two eyes. Well, the same experience happens when you're looking at something after two or three decades, and what you're seeing doesn't quite match up with what's stored away in your memory banks. There were times when I'd be looking at something and simultaneously seeing the way it was thirty years ago ... maybe pretty much the same, maybe significantly different. An odd sensation, but it was good to see the places again.
As I drove around, I also realized that some of my best experiences from back then were from just driving around. I was always way out in the countryside, exploring back roads and gravel roads. I even had the county road maps, the ones the road crews used to find their way around, so that I could find even the most hidden and remote gravel roads. There's some beautiful country around Cookeville that's very unspoiled, and I loved being out in it. So when I was driving around over the past couple of days, I was a bit surprised at how much came back. At one point I was heading out a road that wound around and over the hills and suddenly knew exactly where it was going and what it would do around the next few bends. Quite a moment.
And roads in that area are wonderful to drive. They have a relaxed rhythm back and forth, with smooth transitions from left to right and back again, over hills and through valleys. You can run along at a pretty good clip without straining or getting bored. You can look at the scenery or "become one with the road", whichever you want. It's rare to find that quality.
So, anyway. My show at Tennesee Tech will be up until November 27. My "Pachydermian Portrait of King George II" will be in a juried show in Knoxville immediately afterward. It'll run from Dec 14 to Jan 11. I'm going to have another solo show of the War series in January. This time it'll be in the Madison County Arts Council's new exhibition space in Marshall. That show will open on January 4.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Word to the Wise

Guys: Never give your wife a big hug and sing "Happy anniversary to yooouuuu ..." when the damn anniversary is still two days away. Never. Trust me on this one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Fires

Fires are raging in southern California as I write this, particularly around San Diego. Rick, Julie, and the mighty Jackson (our grandson) have had to evacuate. They're safe for now, but there's no telling if their apartment will still exist when they return. We've been watching the news channels and found live streaming video from one of the San Diego TV stations. Our fingers are crossed and we're all hoping for the best.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheney and Iran

Dick Cheney is at it again. Yesterday he made the statement "We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon". This is almost word-for-word what he said about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction just two months before the invasion. On Friday, Bush made a statement that allowing Iran to have nuclear knowledge (not even weapons, just the knowledge) would lead to World War 3. It is clear to me that these two have already decided to launch an air attack on Iran's nuclear facilities sometime soon. It'll probably come sometime after the first of the year, since Georgie won't want to mess up the Christmas retail season for his supporters.

I just sent the following to both my Senators and my Congressman:

"The President and Vice President have made statements about Iran over the past few days that are frighteningly close to their statements about Iraq shortly before the invasion. It is clear to us that these two men are hell-bent on yet another military incursion in the Middle East. This despite the facts that their two previous incursions have been failures that are damaging our standing in the world, our influence, our military, and our nation. If you are a true American, YOU MUST STOP THIS MADNESS. Take action now to prevent any military action against Iran."

I urge you to do something similar. Our elected representatives only seem to listen to us when a lot of us say the same thing. And Republicans are particularly bad, especially my two Senators (Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr; both are lapdogs of Bush and Cheney). But they're our employees, so as their bosses, it's our job to tell 'em what to do. And fire 'em if they don't do it!

If this post sounds angry and scared, well, that's because I am angry and scared. These two flaming idiots, Bush and Cheney, are about to launch us on another catastrophe. And nobody seems to be doing much about it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Lives of Others

We just finished watching a very powerful movie. "The Lives of Others" is a German film, with subtitles, set in East Berlin in 1984. The story revolves around a writer, his actress girlfriend, and the Stasi officer assigned to spy on them. Gradually the Stasi officer becomes more aware of the differences between the lives of his subjects, who are relatively free, and his own dreary, gray existence. And more importantly, why their lives are different. It's slow-moving, certainly not an "Ocean's Eleven" action thriller: rather, the glacial pace is a perfect match for the ominous inevitability of the old East German state. "The Lives of Others" is as strong a character study as I've ever seen. Highly recommended for those times when you're ready for a serious, meaty movie.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Review of "Meditation on War"

I have a show of my "Meditation on War" paintings in the Asheville Area Arts Council's Front Gallery right now. Yesterday the new issue of the Mountain XPress hit the streets (it's the local freebie paper with all the Asheville happenings). It has a nice review of the show by Connie Bostic, a local artist/critic who used to own a wonderful cutting-edge gallery in town. You can read the review here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Catching Up Again

Okay, so it's been too long since I wrote anything. Sue me. I've been busy.

I finished up a couple of new paintings within the past week:

Warrior, 0il on canvas, 60"x60"

The Soccer Game, oil on canvas, 18"x24"

Both of these paintings are part of my "Meditation on War" series. I was pushing to get 'em done because my solo show at Tennessee Tech University opens in less than two weeks. I'm really happy with these two, particularly Warrior. This one has been in my head for a long time now. Once Jim agreed to be the model, everything came together very quickly. From the first preliminary drawings to the final signature was a bit over three weeks. For me to do a picture of this size, three weeks is phenomenally quick.

I've got a show of some of the Meditation on War paintings hanging at the Asheville Arts Council right now. I was in there the other day and looked over the guest book. Almost everybody left good comments. One, however, has got me baffled. One of my paintings is titled You Don't Understand. One couple left a comment in the book saying "YOU don't understand!" What the hell does this mean? These paintings are my own experiences ... are they saying I don't understand the things I've been through? I can't figure out if they're loonie lefties or righteous righties. Not that it matters. Everybody else has figured it out.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Unnecessary Excitement

I was out running errands this morning and pulled up to the bank to hit the ATM. While backing into the parking spot on the street, all of a sudden there was this gawd-awful CRUNCH and the right front dropped about a foot. Holy moly, it sounded like I just tore the side off the truck and couldn't imagine what I hit.

As it turned out, I didn't hit anything. There was a drainage culvert there and the grate cover was bent out of shape. When I drove over it, it shifted and collapsed into the hole. After a few phone calls, a DOT road crew responded. They pushed and lifted while I gingerly eased it up outa the hole. No damage to the truck, besides a couple of scrapes on the frame rails and a tweaked plastic air dam.

And we found out that the exact same thing happened to somebody else last Friday. Nobody called the DOT, though, they just replaced the grate and left. Bummer.

Helluva way to get your adrenaline going.