Back in the day.

‘Cavewall 001’, 11″ X 19″, pressboard, gypsum, acrylics, 23,000 b.c.e.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I went to school with the crazy idea of finding out why I paint pictures instead of talking to people. I was refused entry unless I admitted first that they know more about art than I do. Never! I yelled at them in a long winded written rant about ivory towers and professors with more credentials than artwork after their names. This didn’t help my quest. So I tried art history. And learned that some people do know more about art than I do. Actually, more about the business of art and why art happens. However it all seemed to revolve around where you were accidentally born, and who you accidentally met on the road to art fame. I was born next to a steel factory in Glasgow, Scotland. And I still haven’t accidentally met anyone famous who needed their egos boosted, which seemed to be the point of most art history. One day, as I attempted to finally speak out loud about my thoughts, I once again saw stars spinning in my face along with the professor leaping at me to prevent my precious skull from smacking into the cement floor. ‘Why don’t you try anthropology!’ she said. ‘I don’t like insects, is that good enough? I replied, still thinking I knew more than anyone else. After my head stopped spinning I learned of the usefulness of anthropology in my search for why I paint pictures. Studying humans might apply well. Aeons passed by very quickly in anthropology. I found an endless supply of reasons why I paint pictures.  To have someone pat me on the back and say ‘aren’t you clever’, was a good one. Women like artists was another, although they always seem to like the guitar player/mammoth hunter better. To impress the neighbours in the next cave seemed to be the best one. Then I discovered that no matter what I found out, I would still have to speak outloud. In front of the humans I was studying. Dammit! All I have are pictures, my voice isn’t loud enough, I would fall and crack my valuable brain on your concrete steps, and then what. But they wouldn’t listen to my drawings. And I’m still not an anthropologist. But I think I have a good idea of why I like painting over speech. The entire message of the image moves at once at the speed of light.

Tomatoes Garlic Leeks

‘Tomatoes, garlic, leeks’, 11″ X 14″, watercolour, 2011.

Another escape to the farmers market. The tomatoes were large, the garlic was enormous and the leeks were quite small, compared to other leeks I had seen in the sterilized lighting of the super store. But these were all organic vegetables. And they eventually turned into soup.

Famine

‘More’, 30″ X 40″, oil on canvas, 1996.

Again and again and again.

Economist politicians, can’t feed you right now, they have important bills to pay. Their computers want cash this time. Can you wait until October? They will give two times as much rice as you need, but not until October, maybe November. Here, have some bullets and guns instead, defend your razor wire borders from intruders looking for food, oil, slaves, whatever. You need tear gas, ok, lots of that going around for cheap. No water though. Sorry. Maybe next year. Can you wait until next year? Everything will be better then. They guarantee it.

Broccoli Corn and Tomatoes

‘Brocolli Corn and Tomatoes’, 11″ X 14″, watercolour, 2011.

Sitting on the railing of the balcony of my cell atop the ivory tower at the centre of the universe I noticed some farmers in the park across the highway. I must paint some vegetables, I said to no one in particular. A request was immediately sent to the warden of the tower. Just this once, she said, and don’t you dare speak to any humans about what you do or don’t know about anything! Is that clear? Of course, I replied. I dashed quickly across the highway between the giant rolling mobile entertainment machines where I traded a spherical ball of aluminum I had made from the cigarette packaging I was not supposed to have for a bunch of broccoli. What are you doing? One of the humans squeaked as it approached. I could tell from the pitch of the voice it was a female. I had to be cautious, they befuddle me. Painting the vegetables in the park! I wondered if she understood what I meant. Really! she quipped excitedly, Most people eat them you know! Why would anyone eat broccoli. I jabbed back. She handed me other vegetables to add to my pile. Here, have some corn and tomatoes. You look hungry. Where are you from? I was wearing my uniform and thought it was obvious where I was from, but pointed across the road and up at the top of the ivory tower. Up there! I said. I don’t normally come this close to the ground but I saw the farmers. Are you okay? Up there? She didn’t look up there at all, most humans don’t, look up that is. I thought briefly about saying NO! but quickly decided against it. I could hear the wardens keys jangling in my inner ear. Yes its fine up there. I’d better go before I say something your not supposed to know. Her face went blank. I’d said the wrong thing. What do you mean? She clearly didn’t want an actual answer so I told her I have to go make some soup now. Oh, yes, she was relieved, I thought you said something else. No, I replied, just the soup thing, thats all, do you hear a jangling noise?  Its the traffic on the highway, she whispered into my face. So I threw all my paints and vegetables into my plastic bag and ran away across the road. Car horns jangling like keys in my face. The warden was at the gate so she let me in. What’s that?, she said pointing to my plastic bag of stuff.

Broccoli! I replied. I’m going to make soup.