Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What exactly constitutes a hate crime?

By the time I put this entry on line the expanded Hate Crimes Bill should have been signed into law by President Obama. The necessity of that legislation is demonstrated even as the Attorney General promises conservative religious groups that he won’t prosecute them for hate speech. How is that for absurd? You can’t kill a lesbian, but you can still call her a “dyke bitch.” You can’t assault a gay man, but you can still carry a poster claiming that he deserves to die if you’re part of the Reverend Phelps absurd group of rabid Christians.

I’m a gay Christian artist, and I know God loves me, and the Reverend Phelps too! I would never think of carrying a poster at his future funeral saying he deserved to die because of the evil he has perpetuated. I am angry about his actions, and I do ask God to help me not hate the man.

At the same time, I don’t ask God for much because I know deep inside that I am blessed with so much. As a dear friend often says of such evil, “this too shall pass.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

AP Raises Hell About Shepard Fairey and Obama HOPE Poster

‘Shepard continues to stand by his statement from last Friday," said Fairey's spokesman, Jay Strell. "He has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. The more important question is why the AP continues to spend enormous financial resources attacking Shepard and diverting the debate from the central question in this case, which is whether he transformed the ... image into a work of art, which he has.” ’ *

The AP’s argument is specious! Fairey’s poster alters the original photograph significantly no matter which photograph he used. I’m using the poster image as part of this journal entry as a one-time use for intellectual and literary purposes. If the AP has its way, nobody - be they artist, photographer, writer, musician, any person, anywhere - will be able to use a borrowed, not for profit image to illustrate a written argument ever again. As an artist writing an on line journal, I’m horrified, because should the AP win with this diversionary argument, I would find it extremely difficult to use a borrowed image to illustrate any article written about another artist, historical or contemporary. It is absolutely necessary that artists be able to use images by others as aids to their own work – as long as such images are greatly altered by individual creativity - in order to produce the artwork! Should we not be allowed to do so, we will all lose the most vital argumentative reporting resource, and recording devise our culture has to offer.

* Italie, Hillel, “AP Says Artist Made up Story About Poster.” Comast.net, http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-entertainment/20091020/US.AP.Poster.Artist/, from the Associated Press. Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 9:51 EDT.

*2 This work is copyrighted and unlicensed. It does not fall into one of the blanket acceptable non-free content categories listed at Wikipedia:Non-free content#Images or Wikipedia:Non-free content#Audio clips. However, it is believed that the use of this work in the articles "Shepard Fairey" and "Barack Obama "HOPE" poster":
To illustrate the subject in question
Where no free equivalent is available or could be created that would adequately give the same information
On the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation ([1]),

Fairey, Shepard, Obama “Hope” poster, Wikimedia Foundation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard_Fairey. Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 9:39 EDT at
Original Source: (Barack Obama "Hope" poster originally by Shepard Fairey. == Licensing == {{Non-free use rationale | Description = Obama "Hope" poster. | Source = Campaign. | Article = Barack Obama "HOPE" poster

This is a not for profit article arguing against the AP’s attack of Shepard Fairey for his not for profit use of an AP photographic image that was significantly altered in order to produce the HOPE poster.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cape May Diamonds

My partner and I often traveled to Cape May, New Jersey from Lancaster, Pennsylvania before we found Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was closer.  We still occasionally take the Cape May, Lewes Ferry across Delaware Bay to visit Cape May.  Among the many attractions there - wonderful old Victorian beach architecture, the beaches, restaurants, and the tip of the cape itself - are these Cape May Diamonds.  They are smooth, round quartz stones of many hues that have washed down the Delaware River from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania mountains finally to be deposited on Cape May beaches.  We have collected boxes of these over the years, and I have soap dishes filled with them in our bathrooms.  Last week I had a long distance conversation with a Facebook friend, that involved the stones, and I promised to put this 1990’s pastel drawing of the stones on Facebook.  And, lazy me, I  thought, why shouldn't it be here as well.  The pastel drawing is 24” by 32” though the stones are really quite small.  They are perfect set in jewelry, and many local craft persons create jewelry using them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Art Practice as a Form of Meditation

Japanese calligraphers and artists see their work as part of a life unifying force that includes their art practice, and meditation.

I know that I have a special God given talent, though I’m not a Picasso.  However, I have no talent for placing the product of that talent in the public eye.  I’m not good at being in the right place at the right time, and I don’t always play well with others.  I’m not good at strategy, though I find life to be a bit like a chess game.  I don’t mean to be difficult, but I am sometimes.  I’m not mysterious, and I don’t have a gimmick.  My personality isn’t scintillating, though I’ve been accused of approaching gallery owners with too much of it. Thus, I have found operating in the Art World to be difficult.  Though I almost had my 15 minutes of fame, I never have been quite able to pull the entire package together.  Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on that lack of charismatic magnetism and importance to my contemporaries in the art world, and then I become congested, depressed and blocked.  It has been frustrating to say the least, and I must be vigilant in order to prevent playing the part of the victim.

Never the less, on a good day - when the color flows smoothly, I solve drawing problems efficiently, and the connections between brain, arm fingers and the various tools are strong and sound – the Art World, indeed the entire world goes away, and I am suspended in time and space.  In short, working becomes like praying.  I believe my best pastels though thoroughly couched in realism convey that sense of peace and almost other-worldliness.  The montages on the other hand are so tied up in the issues of this life and world that they do not speak of any prayer.  Never the less, I do meditate while creating them, whether I want to or not, and hours can be lost in peaceful manipulation of color shape and form in that other space that my computer provides.  So, my work in the studio is special.  It provides the locus for simultaneously shedding the concerns of this world and for rebirth.  No, not only special, but hallowed because it is a gift from God.

Watch out for future entries on the topic “The Spiritual in Art Practice.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Opposition possesses us because of our cultural history. We use opposition as insubstantial proof in argument. We use it to obfuscate and befuddle vision. Of course, we know that black and white paint mixed together make gray. Instead, we choose to ignore that sure knowledge. We understand that man and woman are the two physical varieties of sexual humankind and therefore cannot possibly be opposites. Still, we insist that is the case. In the political arena we maintain that a Republican must be the opposite of a Democratic Party member. In religion, we insist that my particular brand is correct, and is in direct opposition to all other religious belief systems and / or orders. We actually know that all things are different from all other things in innumerable ways. However, we classify as many things as possible by opposition; tall versus short, gay versus straight, right versus left, top versus bottom, up versus down, in versus out, light versus dark, west versus east and so on.

I could proceed to a lengthy discussion of the origin of binary opposition in Western culture. However, that has already been done by any number of others, often with the insistence that each description is the only correct understanding, and is in opposition to all other theories of origination. Instead, I wish to offer the idea that synthesis of antipodes is possible because opposition is most often of our own faulty invention.

“Say that again, John!”

Synthesis of antipodes is possible because opposition is most often of our own faulty invention.

So, what does that mean to the way we deal with the world around us?

In religion, it means that a Christian does not have to see Jesus Christ in opposition to Mohammed. It is possible that God sent both of his sons to two different cultures. It means that straight is not the opposite of gay, that there are as many different variations of sexuality as there are people. In the political realm, it means that there should be so much more to Republican versus Democrat than the current “NO” to the democratic “Public Option in health care. Most importantly, it means that as a nation and people we have to start thinking more clearly and thoroughly. There are always so many more options available in problem solving than the obvious dichotomies we are so good at constructing.

Let’s take off the either/or blindfold and look at the connections between all things. Let’s ask more questions. Questions like; 1) How does global warming connect to energy, 2) how can we use mass transit to help solve our dependence on foreign oil, 3) What alternatives to the standard capitalist and governmental (public) systems for financing large projects like mass transit are there? 4) how can we reduce the cost of healthcare while extending healthcare to more and more of our citizens? 5) How do we create a country in which responsibility to all people and to the individual SIMULTANEOUSLY is seen as the most important guidepost?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thank you Rep. Alan Grayson!

Bout time a Democrat
Got Down and dirty,

What are you nuts?
Maybe apologize to your
Republican butts.

One Democrat
Got the knack
And it's time you all
Got some of your
Butt talk back!

That's my angry progressive Democratic response to all the crazy Republican shenanigans about healthcare.  I'll try to be more controlled and logical again tomorrow.