Friday, May 19, 2023


 Signs in the Spring



 The spring mornings start cool and gray, and fade into warm hazy sun by early afternoon. The back yard is lush green and the Eugenia hedge is overgrown, and sagging from the rain-soaked winter. The Bolivian Torch is finally putting out some buds. The San Pedro is loaded with them, and the bloom in a few weeks will be spectacular. The peyote is going nuts with no fewer than a dozen new pups peeking out from under the buttons.

Suddenly, I'm up to my eyeballs in project work. I did manage to pry myself away from the computer for a while to get some time in on the stone. Here's where we sit on the Smallstone project:

I'm still just digging out the two teardrop shaped excavations, and I've got plans for the crown up top of the piece. I'm making it up as I go along, seeing what needs done as it arises. The goal here is to work this piece thin enough to glow in any light. The material has beautiful striations, and great translucence. It is a comfort to work by instinct.
"This looks right... let's shave that part down a little.. How 'bout shaping a teardrop out of this protrusion...

This, in contrast to the newly re-opened Lost Canyon Project. I throw any and all work on Pete Hampton's art under the broad heading of "Lost Canyon" stuff, because now I have four different projects going on.

The first is getting my collection of Pete's paintings ready for the show at Whittier Museum.

 Next is the slideshow project, which now includes finding a sound man to do background music, and special effects. Then I'll have to learn how to work with audio clips. 

On top of that, there may well be something very big in the works.  I've been trading notes with the folks at Arkhaven Comics. More on this as it develops.

And I have a few requests for copies of The Lost Era Transcripts. I'm still waiting to hear from the printer.

The Lost Canyon work devours huge amounts of mental, and psychic energy. It is not enough to just dump the two hundred forty some odd pictures into the slideshow viewer. Each one has a time signature, and transition effect. Some pics require several seconds per view, others just a flash. The timing will have to be paced for drama, and coordinated with a narration that is not yet recorded. It is tedious, and exacting work, the perfect antithesis to carving on the rock.

But that sense of Mission is on me again, and I feel driven; called to do this. There is a sense of urgency with it, and I have only so much time to accomplish what needs to be done. I am the only one who can do it. It's all more than just a little spooky. And it's serious shit, too. I've worked myself into a breakdown once already on this project, and I am in no way engaging in hyperbole when I say that.

Spooky. I have long lost count of the number of eerie coincidences that have arisen in the project. Too much 'just-so' to be an accident. After the Lost Era book was finished I remember taking the bike out for a morning cruise. I stopped at the head of the Coyote Creek Bike Path for a smoke. As I sat there, a bright blue, thick bodied dragonfly buzzed up from the creek bed, and landed on the wire rope fence right by where I was standing. One of these:

Now, I bought this painting from Pete sometime back in the early 1970's. I had never seen such a dragonfly, and I had wondered, off and on,  if Pete was being fanciful in creating it. Now I knew. Just like when I hiked in the hills, and saw this bird that I had never seen before:

 So, right on the heels of hearing from the folks at Arkhaven, I stepped out into the back, and saw this guy:

A Pure Gold dragonfly. Never saw one like it before. He showed up Tuesday afternoon, and hung out for a couple of hours. Little guy sat nice and still for the camera. I take it as an omen.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Back into the Frying Pan

 Back into the Frying Pan

Once again, progress on the stone has been patchy, and sporadic. Cold weather, rain, and life in general keep getting in the way. The two paisley shaped excavations are going to run deep into the material.  I was wondering what to do with a large flat triangle at the back of the piece, but I'm turning it into a fold bending around from the front. The goal here will be to work this splinter of rock into waves and folds that will catch and hold the light.
But life showed up again, and shoved the stone out of its place in line. Back down the rabbit hole. Out of the frying pan of stone work, and into the fire of The Lost Canyon Project once again:


Seeds, and Spiders.
I often use the term "web of coincidence" to describe the curious workings of synchronicity that run through our lives. But a web necessarily has a spinner, and the Cosmic Spider is a rather sinister metaphor. You could make a case for looms, and threads as well, but you still need a Weaver, and that leads off in a different direction. Seeds to fruit, I think now, is closer to what I intended:
Small gestures bear the seeds of great trends.
And yet:
Seemingly insignificant decisions can spin out events in a vast web of coincidence that catches us up and changes our lives in ways we never dreamed possible.
(I keep working on this... )
Which brings us back to the spider. Go figure.
Question is:

Is there a Greater Hand that guides us, or even moves us through our affairs? 
I believe that there is. If so, how?
 Maybe by nudges so small that they can only be seen in reflection. 
Maybe a decision on a hunch, or "The Voice" in your head. 
 "Stay here."
"Just stay here."
 Later on you find out why.
"Should I ask her out?"
Choose Life. 
Or go to the Sawdust Festival. That one is feeling more like an other-worldly fusion of the seed and the spider. Now,  I'm spinning this post out all stream of consciousness style, and most of what I just wrote won't make sense to anyone. It has to do with this stuff: 
which led to
Thanks to the miracles of medical science, this work has sat dormant for the last few years, while the world went insane. Recent events have brought the project back on line. That sense of a job not yet completed has been hanging over me for a couple of years, now.

 Pete Hampton's The Lost Era was originally going to be done as a slide show with music, sound effects and narration. I re-created the story in book form, adapted from the on-line presentation at the link above.

But recreating the slide show itself?  The software exists(seed). And as I sit here typing, the software is on the hard drive, and the first two stories of  (spider) The Lost Era have been uploaded to the slideshow program. (stuck in the web again)

I had hoped I could turn the music, and narration over to a couple of very dear friends, Glen and Holly. Glen was out of town, yesterday. I went over to meet with Holly, and hear a first take recording of Glen doing the narration. Glen has a good voice. He gave a clear, well measured reading of the text. But Glen never met Pete. Pete's voice-over was passionate, effusive, and melodramatic, coming dangerously close to being a little cornball. Of course, Glen couldn't have any idea of how Pete would have sounded reading this stuff. I remember it well. I took up the text, opened it to Story Five: Night, and said, "Something like this:"

I started reading aloud, and by the second line I just got possessed. I was pulled in, carried away, and completely lost in the moment. Shit, I felt that terror pouring out from the pit of my gut, and into the microphone.

I got smacked in the face with something I should have known all along. No one else can do this. So, now, like it or no I have two projects going on at once. My brain doesn't like to count that high.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Art Fest 2023

Art Fest 2023


Sunday, 4/30

I sat down last night to write about the Santa Fe Springs Art Fest, but this morning when I looked at what I wrote  I just dumped the whole damn post. Writing is fun like that. Sometimes you do OK, and sometimes you look at what you wrote, and cringe a little. It's like hearing your own voice on an old tape recorder.

Clark Estate

This was the second year for the Santa Fe Springs Art Fest since the lockdowns. The show this year was as good, if not better than last year and the crowd was bigger, despite the ten dollar entry fee. 


Afternoon before the rush

It's very satisfying to see big crowds turn out for an art show. And it feels good to be there as returning artist, and prize winner. My work is a small part of the reason all these folks came out, and spent their money to be here. I'm part of the program, not just a spectator. It feels like being one of the Real Guys.

"Aerodyne" tied with these pieces for second place in sculpture, and I was more than OK with that. 

This piece took the blue:


I took a lot more photos, but I'm a Luddite dinosaur with no cell phone. My Canon EOS broke, so I had to use the cheapie. I'm a crummy photographer anyway, and a lot of the pics just didn't come out.

Of course, the Art Fest is more than art. They do films, and of course there is dance, and there is music.


 Truth to tell, most folks probably come for the music. I don't blame them. Before the more popular acts took the music stage, they had afternoon performances from a string quintet from the Rio Hondo Symphony, and a high school band. I sat up close to hear the quintet. They finished up by playing an adagio; something contemplative, lyrical, a little sad, and oddly familiar. Bach? maybe Schubert?  Where had I heard it? Then it clicked.

"Unchained Melody."

 It just pierced me, somehow. I actually got all misty.

Mary and I enjoyed the entertainment. The bands were great, and the food truck food was junk food yummy. Mary got wine, and I sly dogged a couple of tweets out by the porta-potties. 

There was live Motown on stage. Now I won't even pretend to be a fan, but hearing "Tears of a Clown," "Reach Out," "Same Old Song," and a bunch of stuff from the Supremes, carried me back to AM radio in the car on Whittier Boulevard. 


Can't beat nostalgia for nostalgia. Catching a buzz, and hearing live music is as good now, as it always was. It was a long day, and a late night for both of us. We were tired in a good way. Mary had another long day ahead of her, Saturday.

This Sunday morning is drizzly, gray, and cold. My state of mind is drizzly, gray, and cold as well. Maybe it's my propensity to find the fly in any ointment. Maybe it's like finding a fly in your drink. Friday didn't start well, despite the art show. I'll get to that a bit later.

  As fun as the Art Fest was, I couldn't help but notice a significant number of masked faces. Especially the kids.

One kid in the high school band played his sax through a hole in his black face mask. I saw very young children masked up, and realized that masking is a way of life for them. They don't remember a time when they weren't forced to wear it. It's as natural to them as wearing a shirt. It's the new normal imposed upon them. Mom and Dad always wear the mask.

Talking to visitors, and other artists is part of the game as well. Like any artist, I enjoy talking about my work, and listening to how other artists approach what they do. But in this age and time, you feel the constraints, the guard you keep on words, and the mask under which you keep opinions. It's become instinctive to be a gatekeeper, listen for code-words, and gracefully steer conversations away from news, and politics. I unintentionally slipped toward the zone in a conversation with another artist. I mentioned the sacred triad of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. I heard Beauty, Truth, and... Justice in reply. Gate closed.



And so it has become, and so it is.

Early Friday, the morning of the show, Mary received a call from one of her close friends, Maria. Maria's mother Theo is in her nineties, and quite frail. We both assumed the early call was to say that Theo had passed. But Theo was fine. It was fifty six year old Gary, Maria's partner of twenty four years, who dropped dead of suddenly. That makes seven in the last couple of years.  

The most Mysterious Skinamalink didn't show up Friday night. He was at the door Saturday morning, a bloody mess from a cat fight. That was a $500. visit to the vet. 

Mary spent Saturday down in Long Beach with her friend. I brought the stones home from the show, and got Ol' Skinnies back from the vet. The stones were back on the shelf. The cat was all patched up, and safe in the house. I had the afternoon to myself. 

Reheat the stale coffee. Put clean water in the bong, break a fresh bud, and take this melancholy mood out to the gazebo. Catch a quiet buzz, and listen to the wind chimes. Maybe later do some work on the stone.

I didn't even get the bowl filled before the grounds guys showed up next door. They fired up three or four two stroke motors at once, and filled the yard with noise. I can't stand these guys. They'll spend close to two hours on that yard, and they never shut off the leaf blowers. Hearing aids pick up that staccato whine, and drive it like a nail straight into your skull.

So I put up the bong, poured out the stale coffee, and got the bike out. Figured I'd roll down to the bike path to my little break spot on the railroad easement. That'll be better anyway. I can check the lupines, and see if the seed pods are ripe. 

Rolled up to the spot. Leaned the bike against the big concrete block. Before I could even get the pipe out of the tool bag, grounds crews showed up at three different back yards along the easement. Great. Now I can sit here and listen to leaf blowers, and string trimmers. So maybe try the park just past where the bike trail ends. 

Park is full of parents and toddlers. So I turned back home without getting a tweet. The gardeners were still at it next door, the leaf blowers cranked up to ten. So I put on some coffee. By the time the brew was ready the gardeners had left, and I had the place to myself again. Had a fresh cup, and finally got to that bud. Maybe write a little on the Art Fest, Check emails, n' stuff.

 Got a note from my old friend Jeff. Looks like the gal he was dating dumped him. Damn it all anyway.

"...It's even worse than it appears, but,

It's all right.

We will get by.