Friday, February 27, 2009

Wes Hempel

In the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation blurb about his work Wes Hempel says, "It's so pervasive a heterosexual story that you get in Art history...I'm trying to imagine what a gay art historical past would look like." * I was intrigued by both the work, and the statement, so I looked Hempel up on line and found his artist’s Website. There I discovered not only the larger oil paintings of young men in various antique and bucolic settings, but a series of smaller paintings in oil and graphite on book pages titled the Van Dyck Series. One, "page 29" shows a handsome and muscular barely (pun intended) twenty something man, torso exposed to the waste, seated cross-legged reading a booklet. The top of his head is wrapped in a white strip as though bandaged, and his incomplete foot is sketched in pencil over the gesso as though the artist had not finished the work. The figure is beautifully and subtly, I might say “lovingly” modeled in order to pick out the contours of beefy young well-muscled form. A white halo of gesso surrounds the model, thus preventing the oil paint from damaging the paper beneath it, but also separating the figure from the page, almost as though he / it is suspended above the printed paper of the book. Page 29 itself shows two drawings / prints by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, and of course the text about Van Dyck, most of which is obscured by the painted figure. Thus, a revisionist gay Art history is begun.

Look for a future entry about Wes’ collaboration with partner Jack Balas.

• Hempel, Wes, in the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation Website,, Viewed 11:56 PM., February 15, 2009.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunset, Intracoastal and Clouds Again

Another photograph of clouds, sunset and the Intracoastal near our Florida home - Evenings sitting by the water watching the beauty of this earth help me to remember that there is more to life than the American commodified life style. Perhaps we are all learning a bit about that. Will it stick?

But my alter ego says, "John, just shut up and watch the sky change second by second!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Intracoastal & Clouds

I have described the Intracoastal at sunset in the past, and I’m sure I will do so many times, as the sky and water are constantly in flux. No two moments are alike, and the other evening was no exception. *

My partner and I went out on the marina dock with a glass of wine and watched the sun go down. The sky was a concert of color, cloud shape, and form. Magnificent!

*Microsoft Word and almost everyone misspells Intracoastals as Intercoastals. I have checked and rechecked and they are Intracoastals, not Intercoastals.

Friday, February 13, 2009

What I Believe: Part IV

I finally finish my examination of the Apostle’s Creed.

I had arrived at the litany of the faithful, beginning with the belief in “the holly spirit.” If I ask myself whether it’s possible to walk with the holly spirit and try to understand what God would have me do and be, the answer is an obvious, “of course.” Once I know that Jesus Christ lived as a man, and walked this earth with his family and friends, that he did die because of his teaching peace in a world of division and hate, I also understand that his spirit lives. That means that I can attempt to follow the path those incredible folks followed with the living Jesus two thousand years ago. According to the Bible they failed their master / teacher at times, and I know I will also, but that should not prevent me from the attempt to follow in their steps. *

As far as “the Holy Catholic Church” is concerned, I’ve already dispensed with it. As to the “communion of Saints” The binding together in love and peace of all Christians, living and dead, those in heaven and here on earth - I have no problem with that - as long as it can be extended to all of mankind because God created us all, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and Hindu. Most certainly God loves us all! For the church to say that one must accept Jesus Christ as savior in order to be saved is absurd. As long as we all hold in common certain fundamental beliefs about loving behavior toward one another, the earth and God - why limit God’s intentions. I doubt that God does.

This is my crazy artist’s version of a Ven Diagram showing just 4 variables; Republican, Democrat, Muslim and Christian. I have made no attempt to balance the variables as they are not balanced in the real world. The area of consensus is extremely limited and it shows just how difficult it is in this human world to bring everyone together. So, while I am an idealist, I am not blind to the limitations we humans place on ourselves.

* It also seems particularly applicable in this day and time to the political and economic position we find ourselves. I have had little patience with the Republican attitude toward Obama and the Economic Rescue Package, which has basically been that they will have nothing to do with him or it. At the same time they will lie about that refusal and blame President Obama for their own failure. I have been very angry and thought that Obama has been foolish to place trust in any Republican, most recently, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), the no longer to be Commerce Secretary. However, it would appear that Judd Greg failed to follow in Jesus steps. So did the Obama people, because they did not trust Gregg to deal with the 2010 Census (his position about illegal aliens and other marginal people is well known). I have also failed because my gut reaction is not to trust Republican leaders at all. So, I will follow Jesus’ example, and continue to discuss politics with Republican friends hoping that unlike our government, we are able to come to some kind of acceptable consensus.


∆ Saint Giles with Christ Triumphant over Satan and the Mission of the Apostles, part of an altarpiece, 1420s - Miguel AlcaƱiz (or Alcanyis) (Spanish, Valencian, active by 1408, died after 1447)Tempera on wood, gold ground. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Bruyn Andrews, Viewed 10:30 EST, Friday, February 13, 2009.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obama Cabinet Scandals expose his moral failure and the Economic Rescue Package as Democrats Spending Money

I've a New CD

Let’s be clear – this is a Democratic liberal artist’s rant

So Hannity on Fox, Rush Limbaugh, and other super conservative Republicans, as well as Republican House Minority leader John Boehner, Christopher Bond(R _MO), David Camp (R-MI, Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Eric Cantor (R-VA) would have us believe – that absurd headline I've posted as my title above (See Hannity on Fox, February 2, 2009) while wishing OUT LOUD for the FAILURE OF OUR PRESIDENT AND GOVERNMENT, which would if, God forbid it should happen, spell disaster for the American people. By also labeling the Economic Recovery plan a “spending plan,” these folks are winning the fight against President Obama, in national opinion polls because Americans want tax cuts, more tax cuts, and nothing else! They’re calling it pork! And, in a bipartisan effort to cut PORK, a moderate group of Senators (trying to appease the Republican Juggernaut wants to cut billions from Education, where, according to Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) he will have to cut 4000 state employees, all teachers and police if these idiots get there way. In what way does that help a failing economy? These folks even have the guts to say that they want Obama to do something other than court them at lunch and go on the news!

Okay, I say President Obama and the Democratic Congress and Senate should sit back and let the Republicans have their way.

The Recovery Plan should be cancelled.

There should be no new -spending on anything! No rescue of the healthcare system - No rescue of inner city schools – No money for infrastructure, that means no money for all those failing bridges and railroads and no new jobs – No money for the poor! No money for the Arts (After-all, what do we need them for?) - No more money for failing banks (Now that one I can agree with.) – No money for bad mortgages. No money to keep families in their homes. Instead, let’s do the tired old Republican Regan replay, lower the capital gains tax for those suffering rich folk, and cut taxes for big business. While we’re at it let’s provide tons of tax cuts for the big oil companies who helped get us here in the first place (Drill baby Drill!). Then, let’s sit back and watch the country IMPLODE. Perhaps after total disaster the super conservative pundits, Republican leaders and our unfortunately duped (once again) citizenry would shut up and ask for an actual Economic Recovery plan. No, actually they’d figure out a way to blame liberals. This too would be an Obama administration moral failure. And, I guess it would be if you guys don’t mobilize from the grass roots up just like last year. And do it yesterday!

God save us from our national stupidity! Most economists agree with the President that this stimulus package is necessary, even though they will be the first to admit that this Second Great Depression is different from the first, and they don’t entirely understand it, and / or know how to fix it.

Actually, at least to start with, I want a New Deal style rescue plan! And I want the President to tell the world that this package is only the beginning of what will have to be done to rescue this failed global economy. Only, please, please include funds for new alternative energy and green start-up businesses. I want tons of money for infrastructure and mass transit(translates to JOBS). And, I do want money for the Arts. As I’ve said, the Arts not only record history, they drive it through individual statements of conscience and imaginative ideas. Once a New “New Deal” is in place and working the conservative Republicans can nibble away at it just as they nibbled at FDR’s New Deal, piece by piece over a twenty year period until its all gone. By then we will have long been out of harms way.

So (me, the crazy old artist) - I’m not asking - I’m telling! I’m now very angry at these strutting and posing Republicans and you should also be angry, President Obama! You won the election! Stop appointing Republicans to do the things Democrats should be doing. Cut the nonpartisan stuff because the Republicans are running rough shod over you. I want that Democratic Party Jackass to get a back bone, to stand up on its hind legs, and do what must be done to save this failed economy!

Postscript, February 11, 2009

I turned to FOX (Sean Hannity) during the commercial break on CNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show earlier tonight. Mistake? No. It was a good thing to hear the faulty logic. "Actually", and I’m paraphrasing here – “the Stimulus package is all pork except for the tax cuts.” Oh yes, praise for the 400-dollar tax cut I’m entitled to! Listen Sean, if I’ve lost my job, and / or the bank is foreclosing on my mortgage, 400 dollars, even 1000 dollars doesn’t help me one bit! Oh, and by the way, you’re description of the Stimulus as pork is self-fulfilling, since it was the Republican Senators who (don’t ask me how) got a huge chunk of aid to the states removed, aid that would have kept teachers, police, and firemen at the state level from losing their jobs. Oh, yes, I forgot those jobs aren’t real. Only jobs in the private sector are real jobs. Brain fart – who writes this stuff for you guys?

So, now that the not so real jobs are removed, you could claim that all the repair and updating of infrastructure is pork, I suppose, if it didn’t take (REAL) American workers to do all that repair and updating. You know what? Your logic is so circular as to be obsessive-compulsive illogical claptrap! So, why am I dealing with it? Over and out!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What I believe, Part III

Though on a scale of "one to ten," with "ten" being at the high end, my writing on this topic is about "one" in importance, and as a sinner on a mammoth scale, I probably have little or no right to put my religious belief system and practice in type. I also have no illusion as to the numbers of persons who will read about those beliefs in a blog-world that now numbers in the millions, all of us throwing tons of mindless waste out into the Cyber-void Sea. Never the less, on January 16th I had begun working through the Apostles Creed, line by line, and was down to the line, “From whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.” Today I shall start from there.

Will we be judged? Certainly, but not on any of the ridiculous things so many Christians believe. If I thought for a moment that I would be judged based on my homosexuality as a sinner and consigned to an eternal life In hell, I would not have anything to do with God. But such a belief is ridiculous! Why would God, who is perfect, create me “in his own image” as a homosexual man, and then turn around and say that his own creation was inadequate and send it to hell? That would be foolish and hateful, the opposite of good and loving. Remember - “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should have ever lasting life.”

Instead, I believe that judgment will be based on the good one does. I believe that any of the hate that people do to one another will cause them to be sent directly to hell (whatever that is – more on that later). In other words, the Reverend Fred Phelps will go to hell, Saddam Hussein is in hell, George W. Bush will go to Hell unless he should repent and beg forgiveness for causing all those deaths, both here at home and the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq. Osama bin Laden will certainly go to hell. It doesn’t matter that both Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush invoked the name of their God before declaring war on others. Any person or persons who are responsible for the deaths of other human beings, much less the other creatures of this world will go to hell. Instead, Mother Theresa is with God, and Matthew Shepard is there also. Now, do I mean that Matthew is there physically with God? Absolutely not! Matthew’s physical remains are here on earth. But, Matthew’s spirit /soul is with God. And what is the spirit / soul of a man? It is that innocence with which we are born into this world. We bring God’s creative love with us when we are born, and that is the part of us that returns to God at the end. It is that innocence and love, as well as the doing good while here that is in God’s image, and we each carry that with us, we just have to dig down beneath all the cultural structuring that has occurred over a lifetime to find it. And, What is Hell? Hell is being isolated - lost to God. That is what I believe.

At the same time, this conviction of mine challenges other culturally inculcated beliefs the most important of which is the idea fostered by the Christian Church that after Jesus’ death it, THE CHURCH, automatically became the divine representative of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit here on earth. Why should that be so? It is not rational. First off, the church didn’t even exist after Jesus Christ died on the cross. The church was created over time by generations of disciples and their followers that disseminated the teachings of Jesus to others, who passed the teaching on to still more people. And, if we could go back in time and visit, say the church at the time of Saint Paul, it would not be recognizable as the Roman Catholic Church or any of the Protestant denominations that exist in the Twenty-first Century after Jesus’ death. Thus, the church has changed so much over time that as an institution it would not be recognizable to those who first practiced the Christian religion. Secondly, if Jesus Christ birth is not virginal, as the church has maintained, why should I believe the church’s assertion that it is God’s representative here on earth. * Once the virgin birth is removed as a church created article of faith, the entire structure of church dogma must be reexamined.

Oh my, this thing about thinking through my faith gets increasingly frightening. I know why the church would claim me as blasphemer, and possessed by the devil. It is precisely because I think through my faith that I am no longer of the church. And, if every member of any of the various Christian denominations was suddenly given the command to think through his or her faith intellectually, each and every one would end up with a slightly different version of his or her own faith, and the Christian church as it stands today would cease to exist. Anarchy! Sedition! Terror!

I suppose the question I need to ask is the following. Are we, humankind, mature enough to handle such diversity? If so, a new institution, one that is able to tolerate change, and otherness is possible. Or do such institutions exist already? Are the Unitarian Universalists, large segments of the Moravian, Methodist, and Episcopalian Churches the future of Christianity? Certainly most of Islam believes in their Koran when it tells them to fight for inner peace, and to fight others only in self-protection. The Islamic terrorist is out on a rotten brittle limb of the massive tree of his religion. But enough of that, instead I will go back to the Apostles Creed when next I write.

Notes and Permissions

∆ This is a non copyrighted image taken from Wikipedia, public domain, originally from ""

* See my entry from January 16, 2009 for the discussion of the virgin birth.