Sunday, November 20, 2011

Look at This America, One You Don't Want to See

From Laura Moriarty's Facebook page. 
The Artist's Depiction
The image above is what Joanne Mattera called "Sunday in the Park With the Aftermath of George (Bush)."

Lt. John Pike pepper spraying non-resisting students at UC Davis.
The Real Thing
You have probably already seen this real image of a man in power treating non-resisting students like roaches by spraying them with pepper spray. This strolling Keystone-Kop-looking guy is Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis police force. He has a lot in common with Lt. Anthony (Tony Baloney) Bogogna of the NYPD (see below).

And here's the video the precedes the UC Davis action and shows that afterwards the police, in full, ridiculous, SWAT, riot gear, backed away from those vicious students (armed only with iPads, iPhones and their voices). By the way, a UC Davis spokesperson said later that there were 35 police officers, 50 protesters and 200 bystanders present during this action.

A note on what pepper spray is:

"Pepper spray, which in many countries is defined as a weapon and is often illegal for civilians to possess, can cause tissue damage, respiratory attacks and, in rare cases, death. It is considered far superior during crowd control to more violent forms of self-defense. But, like Tasers, which can also cause severe injury and death, there is increasing concern than it is being used by law enforcement without discretion or proper understanding of its dangers. The UC-Davis video will only amplify those concerns."(from the Washington Post)

These officers are employed by UC Davis and were called in by the Chancellor of UC Davis, Linda P.B. Katehi. This is her statement as reported by Huffington Post:

"We deeply regret that many of the protestors today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested. We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal."

The UC Davis Police Chief, Annette Spicuzza" claimed that it wasn't "safe for students to camp on the quad. It's not safe for multiple reasons."

And, in what is probably the most ludicrous claim of all, Spicuzza claimed that it also wasn't safe for her officers on the quad because they were outnumbered by students. The amount of riot gear the police were wearing plus the stun guns, pepper spray, enormous "batons", handcuffs, and all manner of other equipment strapped to their bodies makes this statement totally asinine. But if you watch the video to the end, you will see the police slowly shuffle backwards away from the students who are yelling "Shame on you." Apparently they were just fearful for their lives, those poor over-equipped guardians of the law!

Now calls are being made for the chancellor to resign after displaying her total lack of understanding of what the hell was happening on her campus and not showing horrified dismay over the actions of "her" police force. She has called for a 90-day investigation of the incident when 90 minutes would probably suffice.

As a final comment on her behavior, get a look at this perp walk the chancellor makes in front of seated and totally silent students. She had said that she was afraid of walking to her car because of the students. The only voices you hear in the video are those of reporters asking questions of the chancellor. Otherwise, there are just ominous-sounding footfalls.

This is not an America I want to see. It is a place where those in power think they can treat the rest of us with disrespect and abuse. This is the kind of treatment that people in black and immigrant neighborhoods are subject to much of the time. It's a Bush/Cheney-attitude where force is used to keep down the Little People and show them who's in charge, without regard for moral or legal right.

The sad part of it is that this is just one little, now viral incident. This cruel and abusive behavior goes on all the time with no one noticing or caring. We are subject to our corporate masters more and more and the police are simply their minions, just as much serfs as the rest of us, but able to take out some of their aggressive and hateful actions on those they are supposedly protecting. I find the whole thing sickening and depressing. I remember Kent State, where protesting students were actually shot and killed, and all the student strikes that followed. I hope that we are not entering a period like that again but our corporate masters will not relinquish their power voluntarily.

Here is a great article about the Militarization of Campus Police by Bob Ostertag, a journalist and professor at UC Davis. He makes some wonderful points, right on the money!

And furthermore, as posted by Mira Schor via Joni Spigler:

Even Bambi's pals get the spray!

And another one:

This one is even more meaningful - Lt. John Pike pepper sprays the Constitution
even as it's being written. Oh, yes! He has sprayed on the rights of us all to peacefully
protest and express our constitutional rights to free speech. Thanks to Kiril Devyatov on Facebook.

And still more of these  This guy is the laughingstock of the WORLD!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look at America

OK, I know when you read the title of this post, you were expecting me to rant about some political development, but in fact Look at America is the title of my most recent piece, part of the Running Stitch series. The title comes from the spine of a book I used in the work. It was a large, pale green book published by Look Magazine that was a photographic journey through the U.S.  I have to confess that I have never really looked at the book; I was more interested in the cover. (BTW, click on pics to enlarge.)

Look at America, detail 1, showing the book title

My intention with this post was to first post the image of the piece and then flesh it out with some details, but maybe I should post the details and then the whole image at the end. We'll see how it goes.

So, this work was the first one I made on a complete panel that's 30" H x 60" W. I have made others that were wider but none that were quite this dimension. I liked working on it and it feels substantial (good over the couch size), however, I decided to divide it up into sections so it looks as if it could actually be made on three joined panels.

Detail 2 showing graphic elements

I made Look at America right after making the two pieces that I do not consider part of the Running Stitch but instead part of a new group called The Dark Series. (Here's my post on it.) As a result, I think some of The Dark Series rubbed off on this work. I felt a need to put in more graphic and bolder elements. Also, because of the larger size, the elements are wider - and there's a lot of black in this new work.

Detail 3 showing more graphic elements with metal, text and paint

I confess that I had some trouble with this piece. I made it one way, wasn't too happy with it, experimented with adding elements here and there, and then ended up really taking it all apart and putting it back together again. My concern was to make it less symmetrical, more complex and richer. My resolution involved first making it more symmetrical than the first layout and then destroying the symmetry to a certain extent.

Detail 4 showing a non-standard element

I also wanted to put in some pieces that had a different shape than the horizontal strips to interrupt the regularity.

Here's the whole piece: Look at America, 30" x 60" x 1.75", mixed media with encaustic on panel.
Be sure to click and enlarge.

My intention with this work was to reference landscape but not really depict it. There are pieces of maps in there and the combination of green, brown and blue could be earth, trees and sky. But I didn't want it to be a literal representation of place. After all, the Running Stitch series is about memory, so perhaps this is about memory of landscape rather than landscape itself. The black sections could be roads or they could be gaps in memory (or they could just be formal elements in the painting).

Of course it's hard to get a sense of this large and pretty complicated work in this small format, and this image is also not the good one taken by my professional photographer and lit so you can see more reflections of the tacks and metal pieces. However, I hope that seeing so many details will give you a better sense of what's going on in it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

At Long Last, Pollination

About two years ago, Greg Wright was invited by the Brush Gallery in Lowell, Mass. to curate a show of works in encaustic. Greg wanted to shape the show around a theme, and chose pollination because he thought it had many "nuanced definitions." In addition, he "wanted to use the beautiful and life-sustaining pollinating activities of bees, producers of our beloved wax, as a point of inspiration." [quoting from Greg's Curator's Statement.] He invited a group of artists whose work he knew to create pieces about pollination that stretched the definition beyond the garden and into the realm of metaphor, poetry, philosophy and emotion. Yesterday, November 7th, was the opening reception for Pollination: Beyond the Garden. (Click images to enlarge)

Two of Greg Wright's dynamic paintings from the show.

Note: Greg has posted on his blog the full text of the exhibition catalog along with images of all the work in the show. So for a closer look at the work with details on titles, sizes and materials along with statements from the curator, the artists, the filmmaker and the beekeeper, check this link.

Thinking about this theme for such a long time and having made work for it more than six months ago, we artists in the show were all very curious to see each other's work in the flesh. It definitely did not disappoint. Here are a few shots from the opening that show the work and the artists involved.

A wall of pieces by Kellie Weeks about water-borne pollen.
Closeups of  two of these works below.

Toby Sisson and  Cherie Mittenthal admire a wall of work by Laura Tyler

Laura Tyler is a beekeeper as well as an artist and has also created the film, Sister Bee, about her experience with honeybees. Laura, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, will be present at the Pollination show on Beekeeper Day, November 19th, when she will screen her film. Tony Lulek, President of the Norfolk County Beekeepers Association, will also speak on that day about Colony Collapse Disorder and its effect on honeybees.

One side of a dimensional work by Toby Sisson

Toby Sisson, the recto side of another untitled piece.

Foreground, Toby Sisson, the verso side of the piece above

Three works by Sue Katz

Greg and Binnie Birstein in front of Binnie's work

Binnie Birstein's work

Two paintings and a dimensional box by Lynette Haggard in the window of the Brush Gallery with sun streaming in.

Binnie and Lynette with flowers presented to them by Ellen Granter,
a former student of Binnie's and  the subject of a blog post by Lynette

Milisa (Misa) Galazzi with her work

A closeup of Misa's delicate work that is hand-stitched on paper, then cut out
and dipped in wax. When it is hung away from the wall on pins,
it casts shadows behind it.

Kim Bernard and Binnie Birstein share a laugh and a hug

Kim with her work

Me with my work (not the most flattering lighting, is it now?)

Three pieces by Donna Talman

A detail of Donna's work

Another detail of Donna's work

Surprise visitor from Truro/Provincetown, Cherie Mittenthal of Castle Hill Center for the Arts, along with Kim

Stealth gift instigator, Misa, made a great thank-you card for Greg that we all signed

Then she framed a show postcard that we all signed

Then we all chipped in to present him with the pen we used for signing - a hand-turned
pen created by Misa's husband, David Michel of Pipe and Paddle Woodworking.
The pen actually looked like Greg's paintings!

Two other supportive artists who came to the reception, Linda Cordner and
Joanne Mattera, deep in conversation. That's Greg's shoulder on the left.

The Pollination catalog that contains all the statements and images of all the works.

If you want to order a catalog to be sent to you, here's what to do:

Send: Buyer's name and mailing address along with a check for $16.25 per catalog to:

Brush Gallery & Studios
Att: Catalogs
256 Market Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Greg may also have some available for sale at the conference in June if you can wait that long.

One photo I missed getting yesterday is Eileen Byrne, Executive Director of The Brush Art Gallery, who was so kind and helpful to Greg and all of us.  But, thanks to Google, here she is:

Eileen Byrne - Thanks for all your help!

So there you have it, a wonderful time was had by all and there is still more to come:

Kind of overexposed, but I hope you get the idea!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reporting In On The Latest News and Views

Growing Older, Growing More Conservative
Uh-unh. Not me, man! I heard on the radio that a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that there are generational gaps in political views and attitudes toward the government. Supposedly, people grow more conservative as they age. This study says that if the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) had their way, Mitt Romney would become the next president because this group considers themselves more Conservative. This political orientation supposedly grows weaker as generations become younger, with Millenials (born between 1981-1993) being both the youngest and most Liberal.

Wikipedia map showing percentage of self-identified Conservatives, according
to a Gallup survey, August 2010. The darker the state, the more Conservative.

Now I don't want to say that the world revolves around Massachusetts, but I don't know any people (except the next-door neighbors that we don't talk to) who are self-identified Conservatives. Notice how pale the East and West Coast states are? We are Liberal here! Furthermore, we in Massachusetts have had experience with Mitt Romney. I wouldn't elect him to ANY office, let alone president. Where were we in that survey?

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more Liberal I get. That doesn't mean that I'm not skeptical and pessimistic, because I am. Still, I don't want to tell anyone how to live, I want us all to have equal rights, I want to have the government regulate corporations (who are not people but business entities organized to make as much profit as possible), I want the police to enforce the law but not make it, I want us all to make nice, but probably not all of us will. I want to be that old lady in tennis shoes who stands on the corner with a peace sign. However, I will probably never do that because I'll be in the studio making art and talking back to NPR when they publicize these assinine surveys telling me how Conservative I am.

Oh, That Nasty Storm
Oh, the misery we suffered during the past week - trees brought down or torn apart by that weird October snowstorm that led to no power - for DAYS -  no lights, no heat, no cell phones, no cable or internet, no refrigeration, no warm showers, no Facebook! We here in Easthampton were without for power for three days and I was about at the end of my tolerance. I would have made a lousy pioneer woman. Some poor souls have still not had their power restored after a week, and I feel empathy and pity for them because it is really miserable to have no light and heat when it gets down below 20 degrees at night. I would not want to go through that again any time soon - or any time at all.

Our house with tree limb on roof and electric wires

In the aftermath, we found we had plenty of damage but no direct hits to our house. We had a broken limb that stretched across the driveway and hit the wires where electric power comes in from the street, but we got it removed pretty quickly and the wires were OK.

Flattened ornamental grasses

Our mulberry tree split right down the middle and is now laying on an apple tree
and a dogwood tree. Still waiting for our tree guy to cut it up.

Our fence at the back of the property was badly damaged by a heavy limb
from a neighbor's tree. This has already been repaired. We need to keep out
the bears and coyotes and keep in the dogs.

There are a lot of other broken branches and limbs but all in all, we consider ourselves lucky to have gotten off as lightly as we did.

I am not someone who goes through life looking for lessons to be learned, but in this case, I did learn how lucky we are to have electricity continuously available except in extreme circumstances. I am still in appreciation mode and relishing the fact that I can flip a switch and have light, TV, internet, heat and all the rest of the modern conveniences.

In God I Don't Trust

The "official" motto of the U.S. on the sides of U.S. $1 coins (that nobody uses)
From the NY Times - Getty Images.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've been ranting away on the recent nonsensical resolution passed 397 to 9 by the House of Representatives reaffirming the Official Motto of the United States as "In God We Trust." Although the "unofficial" motto of the U.S. since its inception was E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), the House felt it necessary to remind President Obama that the "Official" motto, going all the way back to the Red scare days of Senator McCarthy in 1956 was "In God We Trust."

Why does this bother me so much? Aside from the fact that the country is going down the tube while Congress sits around on their asses mouthing off about complete nonsense,  I resent this Religious Right assertion of what the U.S. does or does not trust. Personally, I do not believe in god or gods, and as the Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, Roy Speckhardt, wrote in the Huffington Post:

"[This motto] is in direct opposition to our national tradition of secular governance and is a slap in the face to the many nontheistic Americans who object to government endorsement of religion.

By placing "In God We Trust" in public buildings, public schools and other government institutions, we weaken the wall of separation between church and state. Even though this motto doesn't favor one religion's god over another, it assumes that there is a god, and that there's only one. That excludes polytheistic Americans like Hindus, nontheistic Buddhists and the 16 percent of us with no religious affiliation. This kind of government sponsorship of religion runs afoul of the First Amendment and should be strongly rejected by our legislature and our judicial system. It is the sworn duty of the government to uphold the Constitution, and allowing this resolution to pass would be a direct violation of that obligation."

Kindly do not tell me what I do or do not believe, if you please. I am not conservative and I do not trust in god. Thump that bible and that nonsensical survey all you want, I'm not buying it.