Wednesday, October 27, 2010


"On The History of Halloween", 16 by 22 inches, acrylic on canvas


This is a piece, with a closer up detail, I made in 1988, on the subject of Halloween and its history. Some historians date the celebration back to the Romans and their Feast of Pomona, Pomona being the goddess of fruit and seeds (ironic to anyone who is familiar with the Los Angeles suburb of the same name), and, more predictably, Parentalia, the Festival of the Dead. The Celtic festival of Samhain (Old Irish for "summer's end") brings us most of the familiar trappings of the holiday (using that word loosely, since few people get off of work on October 31, although I don't know how much work gets done with all of the costumes and other goings-on in offices. It's on Sunday this year anyway.) The Celts believed the spirits of the dead could walk among us during the Samhain celebration. Wearing costumes warded off the evil spirits by having the wearer appear to be one of them. The idea of going door to door demanding "treats" comes from the Medieval practices of "souling", when poor people, of which there were many, traded prayers for the dead for food from those visited. This occurred on "Hallowmas", or All Saints Day. The night before, "All Hallow's Eve", became the shortened version "Hallowe'en". The apostrophe was dropped from the spelling sometime in the 20th Century.

I've always been curious how a ceremony honoring or fearing dead people turned into a children's party. I loved it as a kid, as I did anything having to do with the world of the imagination, the stranger the better. Now, like all things we Baby Boomers have experienced, it's as much an adult occasion as one for kids.

This painting mixed the two functions, with the mischievous little boy's masked face appearing in the sky like a vision above the vaguely Pagan figure paying homage to a tree. I wanted the boy's mask to blend into the night sky, becoming a part of the negative space. The Pagan figure (seen in the detail) wears the head, whether real or manufactured I don't know, of a deer or some sort of antlered animal atop his red robes. A feather of some kind tops his staff.

The image is surrounded by the kind of border I was incorporating into a lot of pictures at that time. The frames of artist Neil Jenney, who also uses typography, inspired it. It's one of many elements I've employed and then abandoned over the years. This particular one often received a response from viewers that it made the piece look too "poster-ish", or that supposed death knell of criticism,
"illustrative". I don't know if Neil Jenney has ever had to put up with such baloney.

On the left, partly on the border, partly on the image, reads "On the History Of Halloween". On the lower right just below the image there's an "Owwooo" to be read. Humor isn't always welcome in art, which is odd, since there's so much to been found there, whether intentional or not.

If you do any celebrating or observing of the Halloween holiday, have fun and be careful.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EASL Art Heist

"Odin 2", 10 by 8 inches, acrylic on canvas, will be in the upcoming "EASL Art Heist".

The EASL organization describe themselves better than I can:

"Emergency Artists’ Support League was founded in 1992 to provide
limited emergency financial assistance to Dallas/Fort Worth area
visual artists and visual arts professionals who are in need because
of a dire medical emergency, accident or loss of personal and
professional property. Contributed funds are held for distribution
by the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc., Dallas, Texas."
More on EASL can be found at their website:

The EASL Art Heist consists of artists donating work to this event to raise money for the relief fund. Attendees pay a substantial amount of money to come to the party and "heist" a piece they want which is priced at equal to the amount of the entry fee. Some charity auctions end up selling an artist's contribution for considerably lower than its market value, not always a popular outcome for an artist wanting to maintain a market level while at the same time wanting to be generous with worthy causes. The unique thing about this particular fund-raising effort is that the work donated is acquired by the buyer at market price, which also makes more money for the fund.

This year the Art Heist will be held on Saturday, October 30, from 7 - 11 pm. There will be a preview 7 - 8 pm, so prospective "Smugglers and Thieves" as the participants are called, based on their entry fee level, can scope out the work they want to make off with. Below is the invitation with all the other particulars. Click on the images for a larger view.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twenty years

This is one of the few personal notes I have on this blog, but this is a biggie. On October 20, 1990, Becky Entzenberger (now Cornelius) married me in Dallas, Texas, making me a very very happy guy. She's been kind, patient, loyal and irreplaceable every day since.
We were a fairly "late" match, both of us having experienced various trainwreck relationships for a couple of decades. We were introduced by mutual friends, and away we went.

It's hard to avoid being sappy about something like this, so why even try. Here are the last few lines of a song by Texas musician Mat Jones, "It's About Time", which seem to apply:

"Then everyday's an anniversary, each reason gets in tune
For songs in four part harmony under milk and honey moon
And all the clocks will synchronize to the rhythm and the rhyme
The sun and stars will always know
It's about time

Find the one that makes the time
Take the time to find the one
You know I did and this old life
Has only just begun"

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Día de Los Muertos" - The show.

October 17 (my birthday, by the way) the "Día de Los Muertos" opened with a reception at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas. Here are some pics of the affair.

"The Florist" sold to some friends. It's always nice to have a piece remain in "the family". There are many I'll probably never see again. But since the buyers hopefully will enjoy the work for a long time themselves, that's fine, too.

Here are some other pieces in the show. Unfortunately I didn't make notes of whose was whose, except in a couple of cases, where I know the artists.

This is Jose Vargas with his altar honoring legendary Texas musician Stevie Ray Vaughn.

These prints are by Cap Pannell.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Día de Los Muertos"

"The Florist", acrylic on canvas, 8 by 8 inches, will be included in the Bath House Cultural Center's "Día de Los Muertos" exhibition in Dallas, Texas. It opens Saturday, October 16, with a reception Sunday, October 17, 5 - 7 pm, and ends November 17. About sixty-five other artists are also participating. The exhibit was curated by Enrique Cervantes Hernandez.

Below is the official invitation, including the participating artists' names (click on the image for a larger version).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair is a great yearly tradition in Texas. Located at the Art Deco Fair Park in East Dallas, the grounds were the site of the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936. Every October a new round of exhibits, concerts, wild food (besides the requisite Fletcher's Corny Dog, every year's "menu" features a fried version of something, such as beer, butter, Coke, ice cream, etc.), livestock shows, games and rides dominate the local population for three weeks.
In the past I've been commissioned to provide images for the Fair in a couple of different contexts. Here they are, with an oldie from my art school days.

Below was an illustration for Texas Monthly magazine, depicted the iconic figure of the Fair, Big Tex. He's a 52 feet tall statue that speaks to fairgoers in an appropriately big, booming voice. I concentrated on his head in this image, particularly on one feature, which has always intrigued me: his ventriloquist dummy style lower jaw that permits him to tell everybody about the latest happenings.

This one appeared in the Dallas Morning News. I wanted to take a different point of view on the Fair, celebrating an element that often gets overlooked. The livestock shows happen at the beginning of the fair. 4-H, FFA and professional livestock handlers compete in different venues for prizes and recognition. The winning animals are sometimes sold for tens of thousands of dollars, kicking off college funds for their proud owners.
In high school my farmer/rancher dad insisted I take part in FFA (Future Farmers of America; which did not at all apply in my case) and raise a show calf in all four of my high school years. This piece was based on an actual photo of my poor skinny self with my massive first show calf. I won't be reproducing that pic here.
The often distinctive patterns on calves inspired this big guy's Texas flag motif.

Finally, I created this piece for an illustration class at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce). The great Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame member Jack Unruh was the instructor.
The collage media was a departure for me, and something of an experiment. The piece went on to win First Place in its Illustration category at the Dallas Society of Visual Communications Student Show in 1977.