Monday, April 29, 2013

Patron Saint of Gardenias

This is the latest in my series of made-up saints, and it's probably the last one for this year. Gardenias are starting to come into bloom here, their fragrance makes them hard to ignore, so I used a stylized image of them, my favorite flower, for this painting.

"Patron Saint of Gardenias"
24" x 24"

Copper-leaf, Acrylic on Canvas

Fragrantly Yours, TONY

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Forsyth Park"

Forsyth Park is the largest park in Savannah, sitting in the heart of the city on 17 acres. The fountain is the most famous landmark here, dating back to 1848. Every other day, I walk my dogs through this park, up the middle towards the fountain, and then back down the western side, under spanish moss hanging in the many Oak trees, and alongside the late 1800's homes. I painted this from memory, and made sure to include the fountain, along with a "memorial to the Confederate dead".
I had to leave out many things in my painting, and only painted a fraction of this park. But I'm here four times a week, walking my little dogs past the bicycling art students, the tourists, the Jehovah witnesses, joggers and dogwalkers.
"Forsyth Park"
36" x 48"
Acrylic on Canvas

Happily, TONY

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Signs of Spring (05-10)

Rhododendron "Unique"

Azalea "Rosey Lights"

Rhododendron "Horizon Lakeside"

Rhododendron "Peeping Tom"

Rhododendron "Kiwi Magic"

Rhododendron "Starbright Champagne"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Signs of Spring, 2007 (01)

"Flowering Plum"March 17th, 2007, Seattle

Signs of Spring (2)

Rhododendron "Grace Seabrook"

The Queen of the early big ass reds

To see this one in person is to remember the delicious and refreshing flavor of cherry ice snow cones on a long ago summer day. Gracie is one of the six different early big ass reds I raise. She was bred by a retired navy admiral (I think that was his final designation) who lived about two miles from where I am sitting. She has a big brother named Taurus" (same cross -- shown below) that is similar, but bigger, and the latter has big dark red buds. He too is in bloom. If Grace is the Queen, Taurus is the early RED KING.

Signs of Spring (3)

Rhododendron "Vibrant Violet"

Rhododendron "Gletschernacht"
Now the early mid season small leafed violets are opening up. These two have different species in their linage but open up around the same time. Both are a lovely violent color.

Saturday Night Soup (39)

When your mother sends back all your invitations
And your father to your sister he explains
That you’re tired of yourself and all of your creations
              Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?           

Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Now when all of the flower ladies want back
what they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?.

(Queen Jane Approximately)

or those of you who have managed large projects (I have), these few words will ring true.
There are many phases to a project. From inception, you have scope definition and cost/benefit analysis. If the project gets launch authorization, you must define the succinct phases of the project and deliverables of each phase, timelines, staffing, determine what the metrics shall be to measure progress, so forth and so on. Then cometh the execution of the plan, with all the unanticipated pot holes, tears, breakdowns, screaming matches, personality incompatibilities, intrigues, and hopefully despite all this, success.
“The lamps are going out all over Earth; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” From an email I received this week.
The above description of the process of managing a project is all a gross simplification of course. But it is superficially accurate.

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned
Have died in battle or in vain
And you’re sick of all this repetition
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
When all of your advisers heave their plastic
At your feet to convince you of your pain
Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
(Queen Jane Approximately)
There is one often overlooked phase of a project that should conclude a project (but is often overlooked): the project post mortem. This is where you dissect the past: what worked and did not work; what went to plan and ran off the tracks becoming a major train wreck, so forth and so on. Why do you do this? It should be self evident.

There is a proper way to conduct the project autopsy. Never, ever let the process descend into organizational name calling, finger pointing, and playing out the “He did this” and “She did this” blame game. That is never productive, and fractures inter departmental relationships, ensuring that the organization will never be successful in executing future large scope projects.

One of the ways I have found that you can prevent such rear view mirror chaotic bickering is to stand up in front of everyone and become the face of whatever failures occurred in the past. Do this at the beginning of the post mortem. Do this with humor. Own the projects failures. You will find that once you set such an atmosphere, the players will feel safe with being objective and open about the things they did wrong in the concluded project. This then allows the all important objective of this process to occur: determine what changes could have been made to the past to prevent the failures. And of course, this helps you to better plan the next project, and to avoid making the same mistakes.

Now when all the bandits
that you turned your other cheek to

All lay down their bandanas and complain
And you want somebody you don’t have to speak to
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?

(Queen Jane Approximately)

As a work collogue reminds me “We won’t repeat the same mistakes; we will make new ones!”.
I have written about the professional career compartment of one’s life. This same concept equally applies to ones private life.

I’m leavin’ today
,I’ll be on my way
Of this I can’t say very much.
But if you want me to,
I can be just like you
An’ pretend that we never have touched.
An’ if anybody asks me,
“Is it easy to forget?”
I’ll say, “It’s easily done,
You just pick anyone,
An’ pretend that you never have met!”

(I Don't Believe You)

I have spent much of the past year and a half, up to and including the week just passed, in a state of reflective post mortem. Yesterday I dug up and disposed of several corpses buried on this blog (i.e. deleted some posts). I buried a couple of fresh corpses in blog where they are unlikely to be found (one was found within 14 hours by a bizarre Google search – I had bet someone that it would take three weeks for this to occur – I lose).
And I dug up one particular tombstone topped corpse, clamped on the jumper cables to the bolts protruding from the sides of the corpse’s neck, and set the timer to “fully resurrect”. I have yet to test the result of this process for success (or lack of).
If all of this sounds dodgy and intentionally illusive, that was my intention. Here is my last bowl of soup for a while. Have all you want. There is enough for all of you, and for all of your friends. As usual, there is a subtext to the music that those of you who are perceptive will understand. There is always much, much, much more to the soup than meets the ears. Such is life. The recipe includes:

1. I Don't Believe You Bobby Dylan, introducing this song at his Halloween, 1964 show at New York's Philharmonic Hall (this bit begins this week’s soup) said, "This is about all the people that say they've never seen you...”. He then says “Hi” to someone in the audience, and tells the audience “and I never saw him”.
The song comes from Dylan’s pivotal 1964 LP Another Side of Bob Dylan. Having been placed onto the chrome plated pedestal of fame, been anointed as the poster child of American folk music, protest music, and declared to be the voice of the social consciousness of America, Dylan did what any other self respecting artist would do: find a way to escape at any price. During this period of his life, the four headed monster otherwise known as The Beatles invaded Dylan’s New York, and from this beachhead stormed America’s culture with their unique high electrified musical shock and awe. Furthermore, he took the wonder-drug LSD.

Dylan’s music changed – radically – though few at the time really understood what was afoot. Gone were the signature movement anthems which had initially made him famous. Replacing them were songs of a deeply personal nature, nuanced, absurd and bizarre at times, dark and passionate at other times, and always intense in their simplicity. And ideas and change were now exploding out of his subconscious at an accelerating brake neck pace.

The self-anointed over-inflated windbags of the folk movement denounced Dylan for straying from the orthodoxy of folk with this LP. The Halloween performance, of which I have included but a snippet of dialog catches him as a blur in rapid transition, sounding stoned, and introducing one yet unrecorded new song after another to an audience that was unable to grasp what they were witnessing before them. After this LP, Dylan would go electric and record three LP’s that rank among the greatest achievements of popular music in the entire 20th century.
2. Queen Jane Approximately comes from Dylan’s fantastic full tilt Highway 61 Revisited LP. Released in August 1965, it remains one of the greatest LP’s of all time. For the recording sessions, he assembled a high caliber group of electric blues musicians. What they created was unlike anything ever record and to this day sounds amazingly fresh and unique.

Well, he is prophesying to one specific person about things to come in his/her life using incredible and surrealistic allusions to predicted future events. And he appears to be telling him/her (Dylan once said that Queen Jane was a man) that they will one day reach that do or die point of desperation in their life, that he (Dylan) will be there waiting to hear from them, and be receptive to them.
Below: The historical Queen Jane

All of this makes it's way into this week's soup. You can get your bowl of Saturday Night Soul for the Soul by clicking the jukebox.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Day of the Fish"

I enjoyed painting my last Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead painting so much that I decided to paint another one. This will be the last Muertos painting until it’s more seasonally appropriate (autumn).

Day of the Fish
24” x 30”
Acrylic on Canvas

A Pisces,

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Isidro's Plants"

I had Isidro sit for me for about 90 seconds as I did a quick sketch of him onto the canvas for this painting. The background is plants he loves to put together from small thrift store items he finds and drills holes in......ceramic boxes, salt and pepper shakers, tiny clay pots, just about anything he can find. I've got them all hanging indoors since it still gets too cold outside at night for them. Maybe next month they can finally move outdoors again. And me too.

"Isidro's Plants"
24" x 24" x 3"
Acrylic on Canvas


Signs of Spring (12-16)

Rhododendron Apricot Fantasy Rhododendron Lakeside
Rhododendron Sassy Rhododendron Gigi x Gigi and Unique
Rhododendron Snow Queen

Signs of Spring (17-24)

Rhododendron Papaya Punch and Azalea 'Arneson's Gem'
Rhododendron FantasticaRhododendrons Nancy Evans and Jean Marie de Montigue
Rhododendron White Gold
Rhododendron Nelda Peach

Rhododendron Nancy Evans

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Chai the Thai"

Here is an email exchange I recently stumbled upon from a 1996 diary.

August 7, 1996

T-Bird: David, I have a date tonight.  Eek!  It is with the guy I told you about who met me while I was out walking.  Super attractive in-shape Asian (Thai named Chai), and he seems good hearted so far which is most important to me.  We spoke for the first time last night on the phone for about half an hour.  It was strangely and unexpectedly spiritual.

Because of a few things he said (he related how he was given by his family to his uncle as a boy to be raised as a Buddhist monk – was an incredible story) I have a feeling that my meeting him was not circumstantial.  I am a bit nervous, but he is more nervous than I.  I guess that I am beginning to practice a bit of what I have preached to you.  Take care David, me.

David: Dear Will, I have a date tonight too.  Or was your last night…..whatever.  I hope your, mine goes well.  Later, David.

August 8, 1996

Uh, I think I better tell you about my date in person.  I am certainly glad the police did not stop and shine the light into my car as we parked up on Twin Peaks.   I have never had such a young guy ever get my pants off so quickly and then get me to orgasm so quickly – and in my car.  Come to think of it, No one has ever done this to me in a public (at night) setting.  I never saw it coming.

It was an interesting experience.  We’ll probably see one another again.  I find him physically, and more importantly personally attractive.  He is really built.  Eight pack abs.  Like a pocket size muscular dynamo. That is how the impossible (us doing what we did in a car parked on Twin Peaks with tourists walking by/around us) happened.  And there is something, some great mystery, something spiritual about him that is unknown to me, but seems familiar at the same time.  I could sit and listen to him for hours.

Be good David and only settle for goodness from another’s heart in return.  Let me know how your date went.  Will

April 10, 2013

Okay.  How did it all turn out?  It was still born, and it was my fault.  While speaking with him we somehow got onto to subject of HIV and aids.  I said something that I do not even know if I believed to be true.  Something that hurt him to the core and killed any chance of a relationship.  I motor mouthed stating that I did not think I could ever have a relationship with someone who was HIV positive.  

After that night he was not wanting to get close to me.  I was so stupid and ignorant and oblivious to reality, even when he once told he that he had to go home early so that he ‘could take some pills’.  It took me until months later to realize that he was telling me that he was HIV positive and with my stupid mouth I had crushed him and crushed any chance of a relationship that I believed was supposed to happen.   Curse my own stupid motor mouth and ignorance and lack of sensitivity.  I was a human embarrassment, I now think.

To this day I still reflect in horror at the thought of pain I inflicted with my own stupidity on this tender soul.  Doubly so since I have been tested by the fire of life and found that I am rock solid.  I do not cut and run - ever.  I am there with those I love until the very end, no matter what the fates bring.  Forgive me, Chai the Thai.  May your sweet soul shine in glory either in this world, or in the next world.

Were we supposed to be together in this world?   The answer to this question is unknowable – the only thing knowable is the here and now.  Perhaps in parallel universe we are or were together.  But had we been together then the trajectory of so many things would have been altered in unpredictable ways that it is best to not even try to ponder “what if”.  

I do know that I had so much to learn from him.  From the mysterious nature of Life to the Art of Dying, all from a Buddhist perspective.  I knew this from the first conversation.  He was different from anyone I had encountered in this world.  Some of this knowledge has since come to me via direct revelation (I will wrote about a dream that I had in November 1999 sometime).  Other slices of the knowledge have come from my reflecting upon life experiences that have occurring in the years between 1996 and today.  

I have learned about my motor mouth and opinions.  I have become vastly more reflective, quiet and guarded about sharing pearls of wisdom now.  I value silence.  I value listening.  I value reflection.  I do not think this was true in 1996.  I have changed for the better as I have aged and my soul become wiser.  I will share of course, openly, when I receive the spiritual prompting to do so.  But, I will no longer share just for the sake of hearing my own lips flapping.  Never ever.  

And I have learned to choose my words carefully.  Before you decide to speak you must first consider whether you truly believe what you are about to say.  If you are unsure, speak not.