Both of my parents are ghosts

And then there was one...

I’ve already posted this picture before, but today seems like a good day to put it up again. Life has been busy lately what with the holidays, work, having a bad cold/flu, and such. And then this morning I went to the dentist which wasn’t the most exciting. I checked the mail on my way home because we hadn’t gotten it since late last week as we went to eastern Washington for Christmas.

I found out my dad died this morning. There was a plain manilla envelope with a copy of his death certificate and some paperwork about being his beneficiary from a retirement account. There was also a ticket for a certified letter to pick up. When I got it, I discovered it was a copy of his will that he had updated in March. He didn’t just take me out of it, he made sure to include me, and to state that I was to get nothing. His whole estate goes to his partner/son Ed. Did I mention that he adopted Ed about ten years ago as an adult?

I’m not bitter about the money. We had a falling out last spring, and I’m not surprised if he wanted what he had to go to Ed. I’m upset because he still had the power to hurt me, even in death. He was a complicated man, and most people only saw his jovial public persona. This side of him was warm and wonderful. I, however, also got to witness firsthand his other side. He was a very emotionally, and sometimes physically, abusive man. Both to my mother, and myself.

I regret that things ended with him the way they did, just as I wish that when I was fourteen and my mother died, that he would have been a stronger, better parent to me. I am angry, sad, hurt, betrayed, disappointed, and mournful. This will take some time to come to terms with. But I know I’ll be okay.

This is probably the only way his story could have ended. I wish it didn’t have to be a tragedy.


Otherness, Looking, and Language


Ran into this “Scary Indian” doll/figurine/thing at an antique store yesterday and I just HAD to take a picture of it. It is so many things all at once. Sure, on a lot of levels it is pretty offensive (at least to my contemporary sensibilities). It’s also pretty amusing in that it looks so completely ridiculous. And, of course, I did note that it has some cool triangle designs on the headband. Really though, I think it says more about the (probably) white people who created it than it does about Indians. It’s a physicial representation of “otherness.”

"1 to Infinity" by Roman Opalka (detail)

Another thing I ran into last night (or was it this morning?) was an article on Huffington Post by James Elkins titled: “Are Artists Bored by Their Work?”  Excellent question James!  At first I was a little turned off by what I interpreted as a rather elitist viewpoint about what he calls, “slow looking.” But when I woke up this morning, I realized that this is not the case at all. In fact, I believe that slow looking is just another way of saying that one is open to the world around them. It takes time to get to know a person, an animal, a tree, a place. Relationships are formed through interactions and observation. Of course! He’s on to something! The problem is more likely that I feel guilty about all of the “fast looking” I do on a daily basis at work, at home, on the internet, in my email, etc.

He ended the article with some interesting information about boredom:

Here is something wonderful to ponder about boredom. It may seem that boredom is a natural human trait, something that’s been around as long as people have. But it turns out that is not true: as a theme in literature, boredom is an invention of the nineteenth century. The historian Walter Benjamin thought boredom was invented by the middle classes around 1840, and whether or not that’s exactly right, no one made boredom into a theme — no one complained about it, novelists didn’t write about it, diarists didn’t dwell on it — before the nineteenth century. The French word “ennui” came into common use at about the same time, and so did the Italian word “noia.” I don’t doubt that in the Renaissance people often found themselves at a loss about how to spend an afternoon, but no one was vexed by boredom, or in need of continuous distractions. Not a single Renaissance artist left a diary, or a letter, describing the appalling boredom of the long hours spent in the studio.

Boredom is about two hundred years old, young by historical standards. It’s younger than Titian or Rembrandt. Boredom, Benjamin says, is part of our modern middle class malaise, a sign of our anxiety, of the fragmentation of our lives, of our compulsive need for continuous, intensive distractions. Modern and contemporary artworks take less time to make, on average, than older artworks, partly because we have become skittish. We’re impatient. We’re easily bored. Many of our artists can’t work too long on anything, even if they wanted to. And so, as Arthur Danto says, it would not be right to fetishize slow and careful looking. But that is exactly what I intend to do in this column.

Lastly, I just was on facebook and noticed an ad for Rosette Stone in Navajo (Diné) from Salina Bookshelf, Inc. This is such a cool thing to have available and got me back on track thinking about ideas I’ve had before about creating computer programs in Native languages. Wouldn’t this be a great way to teach kids their native language? To connect past and present? To help these languages find their way in the future instead of condemning them to death?

I’d love a copy of Windows with a Karuk language pack. Of course, at this point, I’d have no idea what it was saying.

Santa is pink.

Saw these Santas hanging in the window on my way to work this morning. Of course, they are meant to be viewed from the inside. It made me think about how/why Santa is only pink. This is the daycare where I work and I know we actually have a really multicultural membership, so I’m a little surprised that there weren’t also some other construction paper color choices for Santa’s skin. Or maybe it was only white (pink?) kids who were making the Santas?

Dear Post Office:

"Blood and Gold" 2010, (detail view)

I’m really hoping that my paintings didn’t get lost in the mail! Partly because I would be sad and the Clarke Museum is waiting on them, and partly because this was the one time that I didn’t do any sort of signature confirmation, delivery tracking, or insurance and just trusted that they would arrive. If they are lost, well, valuable but annoying lesson learned.

Here’s another view of one of the paintings though. On this one I put triangles on the side too. (The other one is just solid yellow on the sides.) I liked the square shapes because of how the grid lays out on them and also because they reference the traditional square Karuk drum shape.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the paintings show up today…

(UPDATE: The paintings did arrive!  Woohoo!)


"Blood and Gold" 2010

"Kúusrah (Sun/Moon)" 2010

It’s been awhile since I posted, mainly because I fell a little over a week ago and landed on my face on a concrete floor. It involved a trip to the ER for stitches inside my lip and my face and right hand were really scratched up, but at long last my face doesn’t have any scabs and my hand is looking better every day.

So… here are the final photos of the paintings I completed last week and shipped down to the Clarke Museum! Both of them are 8″ x 8″x 1.5″ acrylic on panel. I’d been hoping to work on other things as well, but the injury along with busy holiday season at work has had me more tired than I’d expected. Still, it is good to have some work completed and sent off and it seems like a great way to draw 2010 to a close. I’ve got a few pieces I’m still needing to complete for friends coming up, and those should keep me busy with my art for a little while.

Pi’êep káru Payêem – Long Ago and Now

I’ve got two paintings in progress that I’m getting ready to complete and ship down to California for display in this exhibit. My understanding is that it will be up for a year at the Clarke Museum in Eureka, CA and then move for an additional year to the Karuk People’s Center in Happy Camp, CA.

These are the first paintings I’ve made in years and also the first ones that I’ve really felt like I was making something instead of just noodling around. They are also derived from the patterns I’ve been working with so much. In other words, there are triangles upon triangles! But I’m really enjoying them and glad that I didn’t hold off until I had oil paints to work with, but jumped in with the acrylic paints I had on hand. This is also the first time I’ve worked on (gallery) panels. These ones are smaller, only 8″x8″x1.5″, but I like it better than canvas since it seems much sturdier.

It would be nice if I could devote more time to painting, however, I’m happy to be working on new artwork and am pleasantly surprised still at how things have been progressing this fall. Now I just need to keep finding some opportunities for this next spring!