Friday, November 30, 2012

Black and Bluesy

Taken a week ago at about a quarter to six in the evening,
 for no reason other than for the fact my eyes 
were seduced by the black of the bare limbs 
against the variegated blues and mauves 
of the sky and clouds. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Speedway Art: Pollard

A lot of the trees in Speedway have over the years 
been subjected to "pollard" cuts of their limbs.
And every tree I see seems like a silent, subtle memorial
to Indy car driver Art Pollard.

Pollard is remembered as an outgoing and kind man
who made time for fans and always valued friends and family.
He drove his first Champ Car race at Milwaukee
in 1965, was credited with 22nd place after spinning out, 
and received $165 for his effort. He attempted to qualify for
the Indy 500 in 1966, but was bumped from the field.
The following year, he made his first start in the race, finishing eighth.
In 1968, he drove Andy Granatelli's STP Lotus turbine.
All told, Pollard drove in five Indy 500-Mile races.
He qualified for six but broke a leg during a practice accident
for the 1972 race and was unable to compete.
In 1973, Pollard was killed while practicing at the Speedway.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the lighting 
of the World's Tallest Christmas Tree. Strands of lights were 
hung from the Indianapolis War Memorial Monument
by volunteers from the International  Brotherhood
of Electrical Workers. Around its base, thousands of spectators
gathered to watch the entertainment before the tree
was switched on by a young girl who had won a coloring contest.

Santa Claus, accompanied by assistants, Frosty the Snowman, 
and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, strolled among the crowd,
visiting and posing for pictures with admirers of all ages.

Street peddlers, hawking light sabres, light sticks, and antlers decked 
with flashing lights, wandered the crowd the entire evening.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department used 
their mounted patrol to quietly keep watch over the throngs
of people. In recent years, the patrol has replaced
their earlier horses to improve their visibility at night, 
so that they are all now white, roan, or gray.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Little Brown Birds

Little sparrows live year-round in the trees at the Speedway Shopping Center.
When the trees are bare, their brown coloring makes them look
as though they are leaves, clinging to the branches in one last, defiant
stand against winter. Here, I want to reach through the rough twigs to stroke
their downy breasts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Maltese in Speedway

Fluttering in the morning breeze, the white fibers 
of the milkweed reminded me of Maltese 
terrier puppies being paraded in the show ring, 
their dark noses and eyes standing out 
from their silky coats as they strut for the judges.

Where Maltese puppies come from.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Awe and Happiness

Crowds of adults and children began gathering on Monument Circle 
in late afternoon to watch the lighting of the World's Tallest Christmas Tree.
Many had come down earlier to shop, to visit the museums, 
and to dine at numerous restaurants in the area, as well as at the 
many food trucks parked in the area. 

The event has progressed well beyond the inaugural year, 
when the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strung the lights 
from the top of the Monument to its base, plugged it in for the duration,
then took it down after the New Year. No fanfare and "no big deal"
is now a local dancing and singing extravaganza, complete with visits from
Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph with his nose so bright. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sparkly Season

This evening was the fiftieth anniversary of the lighting 
of the "World's Tallest Christmas Tree."
Each year, lights are strung from the Indianapolis
War Memorial on the Circle, the surrounding trees are
wrapped in lights and candy canes and toy soldiers
are stationed all around. This is done the day after Thanksgiving,
which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping
season, when all the most sparkly displays are
shown in the stores, the laciest camisoles, the most
satiny of bows - not to mention the most outlandish
gimcrackery, and gimmicky tools for the men. 

The Indianapolis Power & Light Company debuted
window displays, re-creating some of Norman Rockwell's
most famous Christmas illustrations.
The one above caught my eye because the figure
closely resembles my brother, Doug, who's
going to be pretty astonished to see himself depicted
astride a rocking horse. The second one shows a young
boy, fallen asleep while "Miracle on 34th Street"
plays on the family television.

Friday, November 23, 2012


In the Spring I look forward to the trees' budding leaves, 
the tender shades of green they make as they emerge after 
the fallow Winter. In Summer their leaves offer shade where 
I often stand, gazing upward through the layers of leaves,
marveling at the shapes and shades made by the sunlight.
 In the Fall, I get the colors and then the delicate
lines drawn by the bare branches as they mark their
own space against the cold sky.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Tuesday night, I came home to see fire apparatus at the end of the street, 
with more coming until they were lined up along the narrow lanes. 
Again? Again. For what seemed like the third time in three weeks,
families had been burned out of their homes. If it seems like an
epidemic, it is - an epidemic of stupidity - because all
three fires were due to negligence. It isn't just the homes where
the fires originated, but the adjacent townhomes
were also damaged, which means about a dozen folks
have been forced to start over, from scratch,
because someone was careless with a cigarette or left a frying pan 
on the stove while they went to the store. Damn.

I've always said that my biggest fear about apartment living 
was not knowing what my neighbors were up to. While I can control 
 my own actions, I have to trust that my neighbors are not
going to fall asleep while smoking, or splash hot grease
onto the stove top. The prospect scares me to friggin' death;
all the smoke detectors and extinguishers in the world are no defense
against stupidity and negligence. We are just lucky that,
so far, no one has been injured or killed.

My little place is warm, my neighbors are quiet, and
the stove tops are OFF. Tomorrow, I will
have a Thanksgiving dinner of broiled salmon, rice pilaf,
asparagus, cranberry sauce, and chocolate ice cream.
I have a meal of my choosing and "hovel, sweet hovel"
has not been among those burned.
Yes, I am thankful. Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Brief Glance

I'm afraid that if someone turned me loose in, say, Yellowstone Park, 
I'd never come out except to download my image files.
I was walking across the bridge at the Coke Field when I glanced
to my right and saw what I think could be the best little
set-up - fall leaves back-lit by the sun revealing their ribs and
color, with sun-sparkled water below.
Damn, I just love that russet and yellow-green
color combination.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Patch

One rainy afternoon, while waiting for a bus, I happened 
to see this cross-hatched patch on the side of a tree.
Resembling the back-and-forth stitching on a pair 
of mended jeans, it was definitely purposely done, perhaps
to mend a wound on the tree's bark. The tree would
not have made this pattern on its own.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fall In

All it takes is one. I went to the creek to see whether 
any colorful leaves remained, if any had fallen 
into the creek to show themselves like bright jewels 
against the creek bed. The moss is heavy this year, like green
velvet to show off the crystal ripples of the water.
Then I saw it, a brown leaf face down against the rocks,
its ribs delineated by the bright sun.
A plainer beauty, but beauty just the same.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More from the Street: Barnett Newman

Sometimes, when I find one of these pictures, 
I know immediately the artist whose work I'm reminded of. 
Other times, I have to set it aside a bit, think about 
and look for it.

It took me a bit, but when I looked up the work 
of Barnett Newmansaw the bold stripe or two against 
a field of color, or the one stripe with texture, 
much like the pavement in these photos, 
I knew I'd found my guy.

Here is one of Newman's works, Untitled, done in 1946, 
ink and brush on paper. This drawing is on the 
website for a gallery that handles a lot of his work.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Of course he's beneath us, he's an actor!"*

These paintings are small, about 5" X 7" each, meant as sketches 
for a project to show the Ohio River and boats that 
cruised her currents, as well as of scenes and events. 
I made them a couple years ago, along with some drawings,
 adaptations of navigation charts to give the viewer a sense of 
the place, and an idea of where the scene was located.

When the first steamboat journeyed the river just over 
200 years ago on its way to New Orleans, it paddled through 
primeval forests, where flocks of birds, among them 
the now-extinct Passenger Pigeon and Carolina
Paroquette, were so thick they counted in the millions.
During migration, the flocks blackened the 
sky for days. Hunters did not have to aim their 
guns at the birds, but just fired into the air 
for them to fall to the ground, more dead birds
than they could eat. 

The Ohio River got its name from the Native American 
phrase meaning "beautiful river." It would be an odyssey 
to attempt to explore and to effectively portray 
its beauty. One worth doing, if I can find a way. 

*A line from one of my favorite movies, My Favorite Year
starring Peter O'Toole. I laugh and laugh every time
I see it. What has it got to do with the little paintings?
Nuthin', other than for the fact that so many people 
do not understand why I want to tell this story.
(But of course I'm beneath them, I'm an artist.) 
Those who bother to listen think 
it's a great story, and are enthralled. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Warmer Colors

As the days get shorter, I look for warmer colors 
to brighten the grays. While winter has its own colors,
one needs fiery jewels to off-set and appreciate
the subleties of russet and taupe.

"Gotta Be Juicy" from Sandy Bull's 
1972 album "Demolition Derby."
No reason. I just liked it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunset Gradations: Blue to Orange

Sunset seemed to come much earlier than I'd expected.
It didn't seem to so much sink slo-o-owly behind the treeline,
than it dropped like lead sinkers on a fishing line,
controlled and smooth. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crosswalk: Josef Albers in Speedway

This looks more like one of Albers's sketches for the 
controlled compositions we are used to seeing.
The balance between the sections of gray and 
white reminded me of his explorations
of color theory.

The broad swash of white hangs suspended in the gray field, 
held up by the crooked thread of the cracked asphalt.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Gnarly

Today, the weather was gray. I woke up to a steady rain, one that 
had played its tattoo all night against my windows. 
The rain turned into a snow shower, which made the rough
skin on this tree seem more appropriate, as it turned
its resources inward to survive the coming winter.

I suppose we all need to develop a rough skin as we get older,
we need it to preserve our ideals and our dignity. 
We need it to survive the small cruelties we see every day, 
committed by those who would believe the
world they live in is black and white, without variations
and nuances in rhythm and color,
Thank god we all do not march to the same drummer.
Or the world would be flat gray every day. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunny Reflections

Clouds moved in as the sun rose over the Coke Field 
 casting rich, seductive color over the landscape.
I turned around to see that the clouds had 
allowed the sun to take a peek at its reflection 
in the creek. What it saw was a pool of liquid gold, 
undulating through the field, at the beginning 
of a long trip to the Mississippi River.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday Morning, 7:30 A.M. or So

The colors vary according to the seasons, but even in the winter, 
they are rich and compelling. The Speedway takes care 
of the Coke Field, mowing it regularly and cleaning up trash.
But stuff gets thrown in the creek, gathering just behind 
me against a pylon sticking out of the water.
All this color, of the sort that inspired the weavers of
long-ago tapestries. All this beauty from
a fucking drainage ditch.

I did hit the "Auto Contrast" button in Photoshop, but that was it.
 The color was all there, if you took the time to wait for it.

My response to question 83.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

365 Days Apart

I thought I was finished with my book, but I wasn't.
 I'd replaced a number of my pictures because the originals 
weren't of sufficient quality and re-wrote the captions to match. 
I've been expecting a payment that would allow me 
to pay for the remaining pictures. It hasn't arrived. 
In the meantime, contracts have been rewritten to change 
the invoices so we can get our pictures. It's not hard, 
but it is a pain in the ass. I want to be out taking pictures. 

The top picture was taken November 10, 2010, while 
the second was taken November 10 of last year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiery Bling

I've started collecting stand pipes, at least those that provide an 
opportunity for a bit of interesting composition. 

Looking down on these fixtures shows their red enameled tops, 
beautifully set off against the brass-colored hardware.

The chains on the caps remind me of a woman I saw years ago 
in the infield at the Speedway. She had pierced her nipples
and had a chain running between the two. Argh!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Water Has Ghostly Ribs

As it came out of the downspout, rainwater produced some foam,
 creating rib-like pictographs, ethereal and ephemeral,
both in their composition and existence on the water's surface.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bull Shit or Fertilizer?

Well, the seeds have been planted that will determine 
whether the United States remains a government of the PEOPLE, 
by the PEOPLE, and for the PEOPLE.
On Wednesday, we will know if the fertilizer being 
spread is nurturing to the population as a whole or 
toxic shitt in an expensive suit, foisted off on
gullible voters by the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.

Apparently, the people of my state have rejected the bull shit
of a misogynistic ideologue running for Senator, only to select 
the sleazey used car salesman running for President
whose opinions reflect the wishes of whomever is funding 
his campaign. I haven't ever applied for a passport; 
I should probably do so should he get the office.
The bastards have bought off Congress as well
as the Supreme Court. If they managed to have bought
the POTUS, the people will never get their
government back. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Order/Disorder

The construction workers have nearly completed work on the new overpass 
and exits near my home. There are crosswalks marked by brick pavers
verging on the asphalt pavement, where anarchic gravel appears to have over-run
the machine-like precision of the raised dots on the bricks.

Monday, November 5, 2012


What I enjoy most about this picture is the bright blue 
edging around the leaf, created by the sky's 
reflection in the water.

I went out today, camera in my pocket, as usual,
but the day was gray all around, leaves
matted into brown carpets on the sidewalks.
The poor trees, tall as ever in the park,
looked as though they were huddled together,
their limbs shivering in the chilly breeze
from their nekkidness.