Monday, November 11, 2013

I Will Not Click On This Link

I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link I will not click on this link

Thursday, November 7, 2013



In 1876, Italian circus performer Paulo Duccio, like millions of Europeans, immigrated to the promised land of America. Unable to find work, he bummed his way west until he wound up broke and desperate in St. Louis. The Gateway To The West they called it, and the train station was the point of departure for everyone bound for California. Duccio figured it would be the perfect place to hustle spare change.

As he had done many times before, the clever carny reached into his bag of disguises. This time he pulled out a clown. Dressed as a bumbling aristocrat, Duccio became an instant hit on the station waiting platform. Weary travelers loved his disappearing tricks and slap-stick comedy; loved him enough to throw a few coins into the stove pipe hat he passed around.

The railroad company liked Duccio too. They hired him to perform at employee functions and shareholder meetings. Performing in halls all across the Midwest, the clown gradually took on the role of jester. Dancing and cavorting in total silence, he became Punchinello, the fool.

After every performance, with great fanfare, he produced a gilded hand mirror from his baggy trousers. Staring intently at himself for a few seconds, the clown suddenly burst into silent laughter. Then, slowly shuffling through the auditorium, he showed people their image in the mirror. The clown clearly enjoyed this burlesque, and his self-deprecating buffoonery soon had the shareholders chuckling. Many saw in the mirror that they also looked foolish, yet all chose to join in the charade.

The clown’s performances injected levity into the serious business of making money, and Duccio found himself in demand for other corporate meetings. Famous at last, he began wearing his Punchinello costume everywhere. At restaurants he sat at special tables, eating in silence as patrons laughed and applauded. People recognized him on the street, men tipped their hats.

Over time, Duccio forgot his other self and could often be seen at home in the evening reading his paper, dressed as the clown he had become.

One Fourth of July, the clown was hired to provide laughs at a picnic for railroad employees. This time, however, he was given a different task to perform. A tiny platform had been constructed high above a great wooden barrel filled with water.

For his part, the clown must somehow climb a flimsy rope ladder to the platform. After much melodramatic hand-wringing, he would leap into the water forty feet below. His practice jump had ended badly when he bruised his shoulder on the barrel’s edge.

The afternoon performance arrived, and the clown seemed understandably anxious. Clinging to the swaying ladder and unsure of himself, he sweated profusely in the blazing sun. With great effort, he crawled onto the platform and stood, eyes closed, now shivering in the Midwest heat.

As the crowd cheered wildly, the clown inched his oversize shoes to the platform’s edge. Sweat stung his eyes, and he felt like puking. But he could not go back. Duccio was, after all, a performer. So, crossing himself once, he raised his arms high and jumped.

Down and down he plunged and every mother and every child gasped in astonishment. In a blur of color, the clown hit the water, a warm spray splashing the circle of excited onlookers. He surfaced, gasping, alive, and checked to see that all body parts were accounted for.

Under a darkening sky, the clown treaded water, marveling at his good fortune. Everyone squeezed forward for a better look and did not mind when the skies finally opened. It rained long and hard, like on a Kansas corn field summer day. Not one person walked away.

And then a peculiar thing happened. The rain, and water, and sweat began to have an effect on the clown. His gaudy grease paint make-up puddled and ran. His bulbous rubber nose gave way and slid into the water, followed by fuchsias, yellows and blues.

As the clown slowly washed away, the crowd stared in disbelief. Someone else began to emerge, someone altogether different; a pink incredulous old man. From somewhere deep under water, a shiny mirror found its way to the surface. The man held the mirror up and gazed, unbelieving, at his reflection.

Lifting his eyes, he looked out past the people and railroad tracks, out beyond the rows of tasseled corn to a spot on the horizon. Fierce rain pelted his wrinkled face, but he continued gazing into the distance. Now the gilded mirror fell from a gloved hand. Duccio the forgotten man gave an audible sigh and slipped beneath the rainbow waters.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Worst Of Show

The first time I saw him was late Sunday morning standing in front of my art display. Middle-aged with a Donald Trump comb-over, he stood motionless, taking in each of the seven art works. Satisfied, he turned, and with a thumbs-up in my direction, walked away.

I saw the same man later inside my booth closely examining one of the paintings. This time he came over and introduced himself. A retired antique dealer, he went on and on about the painting and how its image stayed with him as he walked the outdoor show.

“That piece is the best painting I’ve seen all day.”

With visions of a big sale dancing in my head, I went into my best sales pitch mode. I told him the story behind the piece and the laborious effort to create it. In my enthusiasm, I told him my entire life story. He grew more and more interested and seemed unfazed with the painting’s steep price. After looking at the other works once more, the man turned and pointed at the painting.

“I’ve made a decision, I want that painting!”

I forget what I said in response, but my bumbling naiveté surely came pouring out. We discussed framing and wall placement, what kind of varnish was used and where I had signed my name. Here, I thought, was a no nonsense art collector who appreciated my work. Talk then came round to delivery and payment options.

“Great!” said the man, “do me a favor and hold it for a bit. My wife has the check-book and I’ll just go get it from her. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”

The man, of course, never came back. Some time later, I worked up the nerve to share this story with a friend. She, an art show veteran, looked at me with a mixture of surprise and pity.

“Oh, that was one of those awful ‘be-backers.’ He had no intention of buying your art.” 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Assault & Battery

A new electric company has shown up here in Florida's muggy mid-section. Charlotte based Duke Power Company replaces Progress Energy which replaced Florida Power which replaced kerosene lamps. Turns out the boys from North Carolina were ill prepared for Central Florida's liquid sunshine.

See, the rain in these here parts isn't the ordinary "Better take an umbrella honey" variety. The wind from one of our monster thunderstorms would rip that sucker right out of your hand. The rain itself is so vicious that getting caught in it will leave one with black and blue marks. And no puny power company can compete with the awesome energy generated by hundreds of our lightning strikes.

The results the last few days have been intermittent afternoon power outtages as storms rolled through on their way to the Gulf of Mexico. Even a one second power burp will cause my pc to have a hissy fit and refuse to speak to me.

Yesterday, after two reboots and profuse cursing, I decided to join the 21st Century and buy a battery backup. That decision meant I must go to the one place I had sworn never to re-enter - Best Buy. The last time I was there, I got lost in the parking lot and a Boy Scout had to escort me to the entrance. Once inside, one of the many smiling Geeks fleeced me for my entire savings account.

This time was different though. The young smiling salesman was delighted to show me the 625 volt SX625G CyberPower Battery Backup. It was, he allowed, the best model for my pc needs and assured me of its ease of installation. "These newer models don't even need software," he said grinning. "It's easy! Just plug it in and you're all set."

The easy part turned out to be the simple task of opening the glossy theft-proof box. I managed to cut myself only once and hurried to read the directions before I passed out from blood loss. As my vision blurred and head spun, I looked in vain for directions I could read. There, under Spanish, Croatian, and Hindi directions, I found English. I felt woozy as I read the first direction - "Caution, this unit must first charge for a minimum of 8 hours." "Klunk!"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is This A Drawing Or A Painting

That's a question I've been trying to figure out for thirty years. In 1984 the question could be answered more easily 'drawer', since I worked only in pastels. Later, I saw beautiful works by artists who called themselves pastel painters. Perhaps the term 'drawing' still held bad connotations for them, but I've always believed good art begins with good drawing and if it begins and ends with drawing, that's fine too.

In the early 1990's, feeling limited by merely drawing, I started experimenting with different media and substrates. Nothing was off-limits. I used acrylic, oil, collage, and wax on canvas, paper, wood, cork, sandpaper, tar paper and once even painted on a door screen.

Other artists suggested I was really a mixed-media artist, but that term seemed a cop-out for not quite knowing what I was actually doing. Perhaps the term should have been, 'mixed-up media artist.' Finally, it didn't seem important to label myself at all or limit my materials, as long as I felt good about the work and continued pursuing some always out there vision.

The work above is painted and drawn in ink, acrylic, pastel, collage and wax on Rives paper mounted on wood. It's called Layer Cake and is included in my upcoming exhibition at Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg. The show opens Saturday, May 11, 5-8 pm, and runs through June 30.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Good News Coming Your Way

I would like to take this opportunity to announce some exciting news. As of March 25, every piece of my art will be totally gluten free and not even created in a facility where there is gluten art. That will also include paintings, drawings as well as prints.

To those who have loved my art in the past, please do not worry. The art will still be completely oven-ready, but now will be even more deliciously palatable.

So, all you hungry art lovers, be sure and pick up a fresh piece of Gaston's Gluten Free Art. And I thank you.