Mask on, march on to the Gold

Its ironic really, but quite fitting, that I will just meet this blog deadline (attempting to sell my sport prints), right before the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Also ironic is that my body now feels the lockdown lack of exercise that the Olympics make me remember. And the mirror shows it. Who is this overweight person pretending to be my once svelte figure?

So I speak to my physical therapist about my bad knees and go a few times a week to swim at a local outdoor Olympic swimming pool. Geez…those are long suckers!

As I swim I’m thinking maybe this is the last chance (ok, yes there is a pun here…on purpose. Art by chantz…get it?) 

But I have always loved sport, just as I loved these prints. For personal reasons such as, they are unlike any of my other work. That they ran along side me throughout my life… 

Picture the image in my head of the baton being passed from one part of my life to the next. From Los Angeles, to Amsterdam to London, back to Amsterdam.

I hurry to type this and post it tonight, (since techies say that Thursdays at 8 pm, California time is the best market to read my blog). 

Do I believe this? Hmmmm, not really. 

It is more that I now have a deadline to work towards…an end in sight and the gold at the end. 

I mean of course, the Olympics. 

I am not sure if I can actually post this word without the owners or organizers swooping down on me to pick my cadaver for cash payments. I mean…maybe they will bust me for using their name in my blog.

But hey…it is also part of MY history. No, I did not win gold medals. But I have lived in cities where and when two Olympics had been hosted.  It started like this…

When I first came to this country, I had no job except to make art- which is why I moved here. 

So, my first big break came in the form of a commission, well two commissions actually: a sculpture and a painting. They were to commemorate the closing of the old Ajax football (soccer) stadium and the opening of the new stadium, as well as the adjacent young players football practice field named Sportcomplex De Toekomst (Dutch for Sporting complex, The Future)

I will not write about all the steps taken to be awarded the commissions, nor the time and effort to create the images in both oil paint and alabaster stone. 

Suffice to say, the acclaim I received was wonderful, what little of it I could understand. 

See, I had not lived here long enough to learn the language, but Hey! I have the press clippings in my portfolio and press releases with my photographic image as the artist, at the unveiling. Not fake news, I have proof.

But these moments, as wonderful as they were, did not hand to me the keys to the city. Nope. This is why I had to run with the ball- that is, to build on the press and what tiny fame (Three minutes, according to Warhol) I had achieved.

I came up with this: 

Painted in May, 1996, images of Olympic sports, in color, the style of 1930 men’s shirt advertisements or prints of soviet factory workers of the 1930’s. These were my inspirations, minus the Tom of Finland muscles. Painted in acrylic, each image one of several different Olympic sports. I threw in a few non-Olympic sports to round out the choices. I must admit that I regret I forgot to paint the baseball player, perhaps because I had never attended in my whole life, even one baseball game while I lived in America. “Sinner! Traitor!” I heard in my head, yelled at me from the stands. 

In 1984, my home town and where I was born, the city of Los Angeles, won the prize to host the Summer Olympics. It was the second time. My grandparents had seen the first in 1932. 

Despite then working full time in an art store, I was thrilled to hear from my boss that she agreed to let me leave for an hour or two, run to the corner and watch the marathon of runners pass through the city. 

I pushed though the crowds and caught sight of hundreds of semi- naked bodies moving in one flow through the city, in one direction, toward one goal: the Gold.

The sculptor Robert Graham had created one of a kind images of a man and a woman, Greek god style, and headless as well.  These stood atop the newly built Memorial Coliseum Gateway, that I proudly marched through several times to attend the games.  Ironically, Graham was also the owner of a huge home and property that was being looked after by my sculpture teacher. She had the name of a porn star and the artistic talent of a genius. 

In those days, I was a boxing fan, inspired by American school of painters named, the Ashcan school, of the 1930’s. 

During the games I had watched several boxing matches, one of which Muhammad Ali had climbed into the ring to announce the winner. He was by then retired in 1979. The ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, champion, had fought a good fight but father time was closing in. In the end, it was early Parkinson disease that ravaged the champion.

I remember too in that time I bought a gold coin to hold this memory in history. The Olympic gold coin was also created by Graham . Years later I gave it to my nephew, a newly appointed American History high school teacher. I hope he still has it. Its worth at least $10 by now. 

From 2000 to 2010, I traveled back and forth from London to Amsterdam to sell my sculptures. Also during this time, the city of London’s east end had been awarded to host the 2012 Olympic games. 

I had then a studio in the famous east end, and wonderful tiny corner of the city with its own unique character of greasy spoon diners, Sunday roasts, cockney speak and pubs with Black and Tan beers. 

It was in this east end that I carved sculptures from alabaster stone in the only terrific studio I’ve ever rented. It had a glass ceiling (believe it or not.. and not the kind women needed to smash in order to have make their careers). There was a huge glass window that looked out, not onto the main street (where huge Red busses, black cabs, cars and people rushed as only east enders can do: honked, shouted and yelling the rush hour into the night sky).

No, my window looked out the other side, toward the boys school, they in uniform, some having ditched school (and the coach’s prying eyes) by escaping from the playing field through the side gate. I watched as they smoked first cigarettes acting worldly and tough. Affectionately I thought to myself, ‘Ahh, exactly what I did at their age’.  

I watched them as I listened to the radio- in English! What a joy to hear my own language on a radio! 

The whole city was on tender hooks, anticipating the news:  Will London be awarded to host the 2012 Olympics or not? 

The announcer was interviewing every local estate agent. Why? Because if the city won, property in the east end would be worth a bundle. The locals could sell (or rent out) at top price, the investors (aka opportunists) could take the opportunity, to invest in the city, (aka make a bundle). 

Before the answer had been announced, the whole area that was the east end, what had survived the worst bombing in WW2, famous for their cockney speak, their poor proud lower and working class, beating the rich at their own game, while loving their Queen, every home, apartment, shack, parking lot and warehouse had been sold. Homes built from wood and passed to each generation, mom and pop corner shops, all these buildings went up for sale at fire sale prices.

The announcer spat out his words in a heated rush asking the agents, “…so how many houses have you sold?” He answered back, “I don’t know exactly…its been like this since we opened at 8 a.m.! They’re selling lickety-split, like hot cakes!

All I know is that we have only two housed left…no, they just sold…none left at all.” The announcer shouted, “None!? Wait, what? I just learned that every local estate agent is completely sold out of property! My god, what a day!.”  

The city held it’s collective breath, while remaining traditionally British, with the “Keep calm and carry on”, mentality the Brits used to be famous for, before the Brexit fiasco, for the answer to:  

Will London, our city of London, host the 2012 Olympic games, or not? 

Tick, tick, tick…

As I listened, I watched across the street, a live silent movie; the coach walked up to the boys on the field: tiny circles of boys in uniform, I watched as their leader, teacher, coach, walked toward them. The faces turned to him in anticipation. 

As the radio spoke into my dusty studio air: 

“Wait for it! What did you say? You’re sure? I have just learned that the city of London, our proud, and vibrant city

I just heard that the city WILL Host the 2012 Olympic Games!!!!

And as the literal buzzers and whistles screamed in English from my radio, I watched boys cheer, scream and jump up and down…all as a silent movie, no sound.

Never before had I laughed and cried at once. Cried, because These boys had no idea what this “Win” would do to their tiny corner of the city. Some parents, mostly single mothers, poor with kids, barely scraping by, maybe some would get some money by selling their several generations owned home. 

But the true killing would be by the rich. And the renters? They will be lucky to find any affordable accommodations in the east end.

I was watching the silent destruction of the what the Nazi’s couldn’t do but what this winning prize was: Leveling an area the size of Amsterdam, and not one bomb in sight.

(I could have told them. I’d seen what happened in the poor, Black community areas of downtown Los Angeles, in 1984, 28 years before.)

It seems this blog has become less about sport, and more about how hosting the Olympics by a city effects those who live there. 

Even now, there are protestors yelling about the pandemic, filling a city with people when the hospitals are full.        “All pain and no gain”, was the opinion of the one of the protestors. Others said the government was ignoring their demands. For such a ‘Gold Medal Occasion’, the aftermath can leave a city looking like it survived a Tsunami.

But there is also the Joy, for the win for the city, what their citizens had been gossiping and speculating on, what they’d prayed and hoped for. And of course there are the actual athletes who trained four years, some during this pandemic. Their efforts cannot be dismissed or shoved aside.

Hell, part of the history of the Olympics is that it goes on, no matter what we humans are being faced with or doing to each other, at any given time. Kinda like “The show must go on!” but on a world wide scale. 

To watch those moments and yell, “WOW! Look at that! No one’s ever done that before!” To bask in the glow of shared a success, a prize won, a finish line that together we cross.

Most humans don’t face the sort of training the athletes did to get there. But like training, challenges are important in life. Maybe not to try for a gold metal, as they have done, or move to another country as I’ve have, but maybe to get married? To have a child/ become a parent? Leave for college, Uni, technical school, open a business? Hell, even moving to the other side of town can give a refreshing view, open our eyes to what inspire us to change, to open up, open our heart, embrace and respect nature, learn love for the first time or the last, come out to play, or come out of the closet.

All these challenges take courage, discipline, dedication, bravery and perseverance. Hell, just plane old tenacity, what my grandma used say I had (not sure if an insult or compliment) 

For a period of 3 weeks, we come together and let go of our differences, our petty arguments, our political, sexual, educational, monetary, and religious differences to cheer for our star, or our underdog. To feel the thrill of so many special moments, the athletes share together, with their teams, with their countries, with the audience crowds, helass, not this year in the stands but together in groups, at the local pubs or cafe, or alone in lockdown, on their TV or laptop.

Now that we, as a people on this planet have, in the past 1 & a half years of lockdown, we have seen and felt and faced true loss, loneliness, fear, job or business loss, or homelessness. Now that we have walked in the shoes of the underdog, it is the underdog we now must cheer for the most.


The above image can be found on my website, from there can be purchased in my store . Click on these photos for close up view.


The original paintings and their images are copyrighted, © Art by chantz, all rights reserved. 


For further publications included in this blog, see (Dutch language) Ajax magazine,

Laast avondmaal van Ajax in de Meer, dinsdag 6 augustus 1996 and De opening van de Toekomst, oktober 1996 .


The snap, the chat and no selfies allowed.

Its blog time. That itch to write is here again. Yet, it is only a breath, a brief focus of a few pages, without characters or story line. Not true. Each blog tells a story. Of a part of my life and how it fits into the puzzle of me, today, a year and a half into a pandemic, no longer locked down. 

I re-read some of my blog posts just now. Not bad. Just when I thought I’d not said enuf, not said all I’d felt and thought on one particular time period, about one particular thought that had sparked a blog, there comes another line to say that last thought of that page. Those words I am now reaching for, in place of different colors. That long thought now used as a story line in place of one image locked inside a frame.

I look up at my wall of photographs. A white wall, crowded with captured moments of my life. Places I’ve been to, days remembered, scents felt again. I will soon offer them as prints from my shop, (watch this space) but for now let my words suffice. 

This is who I am, who I’ve always been. A clicker. Before that, a sketcher, then painter, then sculptor, now writer. Who says I can’t name myself as the title of what I do? What I’ve done?

I’m wandering now… Perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m looking at my snaps, and just…remembering. Feeling again. Soaking in all the scents, the flow of thought, and just seeing again, the life I have lived. 

Not running toward the next photo, word, painting, sculpture, to capture it as a moment, before it is gone for good. No. At last, I am, just in a moment, remembering.

Gurus would say, ’If I am remembering, I am not really in the moment, but the past’. To them I say, “You live your life, I love mine.”

Because I’ve always, Always, had a toe in one ocean and another in the river beside it. I’ve always felt sand beneath my feet, squeezing between my toes the cold sand beneath hot surface of burning white sand. Then looking back to see the footprints I’d made, the pattern of toes and its long and winding path, glistening in the sunset as the ocean laps and flows into the shapes, filling them one by one, then disappear.

It seems I am a wanderer, but not a nomad, nor gypsy. I have always needed a home, or at least a room, an inside place in which to put my days onto canvas or stone, whatever the day had given to me in the form of inspiration;    A hovering bee through my window, a news flash, a moon fat and full, a pear colored sun squishing into the city scape of brick buildings as it sets. The absolute glory of every color painted to make one sky, all for a few minutes. And then, like an opera, Drama, then The End.

I paused to look at Facebook. Because a famous writer once said to find inspiration anywhere you can. So this allows me to ‘Waste time’. But guess what? I got inspired enough to come back here and keep going.

Do you think that’s a little thing? 

While not being paid for it, with no boss breathing down my neck, glaring at me, no emails piling up on my desk?

Just to come back and keep writing, when no one cheers you on, no pep rallies, no crowd applause. Not even cars honking like when you were, “Just Married”.  Without any of these Hurrahs!!, I come back and lift my pen.                 

Not for really any reason at all except that I always have done. Yet now, I pause to live, to remember, to let my work inspire me anew. It is, after all, why I created in the first place. For money? Nah, not really. Other jobs certainly would have paid better , not taken such a big cut, and not had so many complications, like…travel costs, studio rentals, bla bla bla…

One day I’ll write a blog about all the studios I’ve rented in my life. And believe me, none of them looked like the glass ceilings overlooking New York, like I’d seen in the movies. Or maybe I’d just not gotten paid enough. Yeah, that’s probably it. Or never having lived in New York. But I don’t regret nixing New York.  I also don’t regret the jobs I had in my life. Most of them part time, giving me time to paint.

Looking up to focus on something other than the ex-jobs of my life, (These too will get their own blog page one day.) I see a white wall of photographs. A lot of oceans. I love the sea. There are many snaps of doorways as well. This was a theme I snapped over a period of many, many years, around Greece, Europe, California and London. 

With the common occurrence of themes of my work, you’d think I wrote Broadway musicals. But no, only a humble artist, a snapper. I also work in projects, not jobs, in series, not single pieces, in blogs, not novels. A grasshopper from one time period to the next.

Why? Maybe my training as an artist; Paint at least 2 or 3 paintings at a time. This will always give me something to work on but not overwork, (and messing it up) “Fiddling it to death,-“ as my teacher Martin would have said, “-Turn this one (painting) to the wall and start another.” 

Some of the best advice I ever got in my life. 

Perhaps I should not have taken that advice into my personal life, but hey, I digress.

Funny thing about the photographs of doorways was, the photos are not just typical doorways, like church doors in Italy or entry ways into train stations.                       They welcome the viewer into worlds perhaps not, or not often seen; An opera house in London, an anonymous Asian wedding couple in Pisa, a now shuttered arena that for centuries had run bullfights; corrida de toros (“bull-running”) in Spain. Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid being the most famous, and the one I snapped. Upon deeper investigation, I see that this arena still conducts bullfights but are not as popular as they once were. Snaps of history, once praised, now booed.                Honestly, looking at the wall of moments makes me want to grab my camera and go out and snap. I am truly my father’s daughter: He was also a snapper. 

So why do I have so much resistance to selfies? Because I do like the few I have taken with friends. What bugs me though, is those who take selfies at every venue they travel to. In front of every famous painting or monument. Yikes!

I know its a new generation, taking technology and using it to record their lives. Good. 

Hell, I used to manipulate polaroid photos (Google it) by scratching the photo with my fingernail as it developed. This gave the image a unique, one of a kind pop art look. Art plus photography equals new art.

What bugs me, or what I wish these younger people would think about and do, is shoot the painting or monument without themselves as part of the scene. Why?  

Because of what I am looking at now: A wall of photos and each one is telling not one story, (ie: me and Jane at the museum in front of Van Gogh and his pipe). But the moment he, Van Gogh, captured and then painted and now is giving to us. We were not there, or alive when he painted this, so why put ourselves into that (and every other) painting?  If I really was gonna bitch, I’d say, “Do you know that this brilliant artist did not sell even one of his paintings while he was alive?” And, “That you did not put in the effort to learn how to paint like that, so back off and learn what he is trying to teach you.”

But yeah, that’s just me. I must remember, art is not like that. It is more spontaneous and silly. To remember the experience of filming women alongside my paintings, in Butterflies don’t sing.  I had to admit, this was an exceptional moment and was great to see my work with people, live people, interacting with the images I painted. 

So, I take it all back.                                             I go back to what that sci-fi writer had said: Get inspiration wherever you can. Because really, what is more important than to see, hear, feel, love, respect, and become inspired by all the arts. And from their sources of the human spirit and Mother Nature’s incredible palette. 

So now, go out there, see some art, see some nature. Respect it, and know it may not last forever.

Because while you’ve been stuck inside, in lockdown, Mother Nature is outside, with fewer cars, less traffic, getting cleaner and reminding us of her brilliance. But she needs our help.

Because while you’ve been stuck inside, in lockdown, a lot of people: the galleries, museums, artists, dancers, all forms of art makers, have been without work, no pubic or government to pay them.  And the behind the curtain artists and technicians too have had no work. A hell of a lot of creative people go into one production, one event, one Broadway musical, one theater play, one opera. 

So get out there and see some art, hear some music, experience the art humans make from what Mother Nature gives them, what they give now, to you. 

Look, Listen and Learn.

Without the selfie.



The above print, Pacific Moon, can be purchased via my website, to my webshop.


Life: signs unseen

I look now at the image, End of an Era. I liked this piece so much, that when I’d been trying to find an image from my work to use for a logo, I’d suddenly seen this one and said, “That’s it! Perfect!” Because she is, she shows, the search.

The woman with binoculars to her eyes, is exactly my symbol, my inspiration for last year into this. That image guided and encouraged me the whole year, to create this blog and my webshop, helping me to trust my instincts. 

The title, End of an Era, had come later, at the painting’s completion. And honestly, I hadn’t realized at the time, that title was not just about an event, the date of which is scribbled on the back of the canvas. Nor what I’d spontaneously seen as an ideal finish: to paint a flag at half mask to commemorate that day. No, it had not occurred to me until just now, how symbolically that title would stamp my future.

I’d not been living in London then. That part of my life, traveling from Amsterdam to London every six months for 9 years (due to passport restrictions), had not yet begun. Nor had I began the joy and wonder of a new relationship, a terrific gallery deal and the whole new life that would not, for several more years come into existence.

I must confess, the image I painted of a beautiful woman, dressed in wide brimmed hat with veil of fine fishnet, gloved hands and exquisite mouth, she and the background of a race track, I admit I stole from one of my favorite films. Inspired by the master: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.

In the story, this woman is secretly in rendezvous with her lover. This particular scene is sprinkled with intrigue and espionage. Between the two lovers, tension builds, then brilliantly climaxes in fury with a hissed lover’s quarrel. The scene ends with his words of condemnation of her, while she raises the binoculars over her eyes to hide her tears.

Poignant, powerful, heartbreaking.

This image, of binoculars or sunglasses covering eyes began to reoccur, finally becoming the theme to tie my series, History of Women, together.

In the images, the searching of each woman is symbolized. Searching for what? A better future? One which did not include an oppressive partner who called all the shots? Or to choose for no partner at all?

From these emotions bubbling within me, the series, History of Women, was born. And yet, I had painted each image instinctively, without a thought as to what the sunglasses or binoculars meant. Perhaps at the time, I’d considered them just a prop, reoccurring in each scene from my 1960’s childhood.

This blog, that had started as fun with an image I love, has now soured into the relationship I ran out on.

So I tell myself, ‘I guess I’m not relationship material,-‘ My one-liner of truth, in all it’s simplistic self-interest.

Divorce. Does this equal flighty, callous, insincere commitment? Or just the grasping of life along it’s very bumpy roads? I ask myself, ‘To stay in the relationship, wouldn’t it have been for the wrong reasons?’

I’ve watched all the women I was friends with, waltz, then circle, then couple up and marry. I stand alone. Just an observation, not a depression, nor a bonus.

Some people just live their life. Others like me, live it, then paint or write about it. Rarely do I know, or notice, the underlying truths of the sign posts along the way. Does anyone?

I’m beginning to realize that signposts are the paintings, painted on impulse, not searching for the underlaying meanings of that moment. It is only now that the deep truths are revealing themselves to me. And it’s not pretty.

Because it was that apartment in Amsterdam that I’d been living in when the news flashed from London. And it only just now occurs to me, that the title, End of an Era, was not only about a British era, nor even the Hitchcock film I loved. No, it was an end to my era and a wonderful partner, with whom I could no longer live.

The event that happened so suddenly, rocking the British Empire and the world. From our apartment in Amsterdam, at 4:53, the morning of August 31, 1997, the date I’d written on the back of the canvas and flag painted at half mask, while this news flashed from London: Dianna, Princess of Wales, car crash, dead at 36.

End of an Era. Signs on the road, unseen.


Paintings of this series can be purchased as prints or viewed on the video, Butterflies don't sing, or my website.

History of Women, our rights crumbling

The image, History of Women, has become a series, quite unintentionally. I took some of the traditional women icons and regrouped them for a poolside lounge day.

The sculptures / icons, surrounding a pool, are Venus, Dianna the huntress, Queen Nefertiti, and Liberty (Leading the People, from the French Revolution). These icons, are traditionally the most internationally well known women in the world- in the western world anyway.

I hadn’t wanted to use images of any religious, political, or celebrity. The icons who were famous came with their own baggage, so those were out. Finally I turned mostly to mythology or images created by other artists.

I’d searched my art history courses to find these icons. I’m remembering now that the art history courses had their own paternalistic teachings, which I forgot when choosing the art for this painting. I had not remembered that the art history textbooks I’d studied during the early 1980’s, had maybe a handful of women artists. Not more. And people of color or lesbian artists were no where to be found. The books had been written by white men I guess, so we didn’t exist. Heck, the reason I moved from America to here was this attitude: the attitude that women’s art was less than. Less worthy of being in a museum, less worthy to be exhibited, less worthy of buying, less worthy of being written up in periodicals…and text books. As if there were no one else except white men who made art, wrote about art, exhibited and bought and sold art. Basically, less worthy of promotion and sales. My bad, I’d forgotten this all since moving to Europe.  IF I still painted, I would paint this image anew, using the icons I have discovered since my early days as an art student. But I digress…

They contrast to the goggled and sunglass wearing women who lounge and walk the foreground. The rich, casual, entitled, and blind…in this scene they ignore the icons of our history. Those who have their eyes covered. Covered eyes are the symbol I’ve used to show the women searching, yet not seeing. They are blind to their own power, because it shines from within, not to be found outside of themselves, from men or from others.

So, in each painting from the series, especially History of Women, the eyes are covered, the women searching.

I purposely used traditional iconic women, to show these women in history. It is as if the women in the foreground are surrounded by powerful women, but they are not seen. No longer seen. No longer does their energy and purpose and power attract the women in the foreground.

As if they are forgotten symbols, no longer inspiring, no longer relevant to the modern woman.

And yet, I painted this painting, History of Women, to remind us of our unique history. That of bravery, empathy, Mother Nature, the birth ability we have, and will or will not use.

There is alot in this image that are only symbols.

But as I grew, I saw so much control that should be a woman’s right, being disregarded, dismissed, or controlled by men. Husbands, fathers, brothers, governors, government…and yes, teachers.

And now, 50 years later, the rights we do have, I see crumbling before my eyes. All which was hard fought for, is bending…but not forward, towards progress and mutual respect… but backwards, towards submission.

It seems to me, that a lot of “Modern” women, think everything is ok for them- only. But the picture is bigger than that of a ‘special online group’. It spreads out from the rights we’ve gained: the right to vote, the right of an education, the right to earn equal salary, the right to work the same jobs, the right to take the Pill, the right to have an abortion.

These rights have been hard fought for over decades, not just magically appeared.

As I watch Poland, Russia, Israel, Brazil, the United States, I see the right to abortion slipping away from the grasp of women’s choices. The women who need to have this right more than the others with more money, more power, more affluence, more influence. Those who will have a way to get an abortion no matter what.

I think, So I never had a kid, so why should I fight for this right? Because I think of the other women. Women who need to have the right to choose for themselves, because those who are chosing for them, do not have the woman’s good intentions at heart but instead, have their own greed and power in mind. Is this only men who do this? Hell NO! Women who want a male sort of power, will feed lies to women as well. Supposedly creating a group to fight for our rights, but instead digging up every lie and crime and fake news to help to sign away any rights we have fought for and won.

I don’t know what the hell women are thinking to not look at the big picture. Leaning toward Alt-right governments who claim they will help to get rid of the rules of this pandemic, these ‘rights’ they feel are being taken away. Yet they miss the HUGE picture of their own rights as women, becoming the next target in the cross hairs. The next targets of wanna be rulers of Brazil, Poland, America, fill in the blank.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen women fight and gain “equal” rights. Rights to say what they will do to and with their own bodies. Now, I’m seeing the children of these women, those who’ve fought for years, for decades, casually, stupidly, just hand over everything we’ve won.

Please think beyond your own personal views, towards those of other women.

Your personal sexual preferences, your financial and political power, your religious views are not applicable here.

The rights of women are.

Get off your high horse and ride along side your sisters.


To buy a print of the image above, click here: History of Women. To view this image in a video, click here.

When the Touching Ends

In the past, when the touching ended, it was a sign of a crack in a relationship.  No more intimacy? Trouble in paradise.

But now, there now is another reason, and it’s deadly.

I remember a conversation with my mom- in the 1980’s, before I came out – in the early days of HIV/ AIDS. After reading all the early media frenzy, she expressed concern about the touching of people with AIDS. Thinking about it now, I think it was – I hope it was – an innocent inquiry. And I am glad, that on that one occasion, the conversation did not become an argument but instead I’d replied from my heart, “God, it’s so sad! The person is dying in hospital but can be given no comfort. No hug, no kiss. Not even a gentle hand squeeze, vital in the time when all humans need this the most.   As I recall, she’d said nothing. Or the conversation had just fizzled out with no more comment.

I had not known then, that her sister’s son, my cousin, was gay. That the two sisters had discussed this – as mothers who worry about their children will – with concern, in hopes of making their children’s future easier, wish only for their children to have an easy or easier path. 

So (logically?) to not be gay- to steer them towards a bump free road.

But is there such a road?

I started this piece as I’d thought of the party (small gathering) I will not attend tomorrow. I’d lost sleep over the decision of whether to go or not. See, one of my closest friends will have her first child in a few weeks. This moment in her history will be welcome, but not celebrated as it once was. So many things no longer get celebrated as they once were. And I ask myself, will they return? 

Some of them, like a baby shower, a party for a new mother, I hope so. But others, like offices filled with staff, their time spent jammed on freeways, driving cars to get to work, I hope not.

Here in Amsterdam, there is a new rule to say that when offices finally open again, those who must travel on a bus or tram to get to work, will not be allowed in. That confused me. Then the light bulb: Of course! Everyone uses bicycles to ride to work. So, no problem. But…some also drive to work in cars… so that’s not good. Not for the climate crisis. The people taking public transportation – a good thing for the climate crisis – will not be allowed into the offices. Not yet. Another new rule to prevent the spread of the virus.

As it is now, the staff see each other online only. As a friend pointed out, “A year ago, this would not have been done at all.”

And with these times come also choices, but the choices have changed. Like the one I had to make today: whether to go to a party to celebrate the coming of a new child.

I’d felt like a traitor to not go. My friend has few friends here- her friends and family are in another country. 

True, she has the family of her boyfriend – new for her – but even her ex colleagues, she sees little of, now that she has been out of work for so long. 

As I’ve seen in this city, people come here, live for a few years, then move on. Most of my friends have gone. It gets lonely. 

So I felt a traitor to not go tomorrow.

But the fact is this: I have a pre-existing immune system glitch.  For me to be in a group can become dangerous for me, right now. For more than a year, I’ve been staying inside, keeping apart from people, wearing a mask, doing all I’d been told to stay free of this virus. 

But I guess I hadn’t really absorbed the fact of, the danger of, this virus. 

Until yesterday, when I’d spoken to another friend. His sister and mother had been diagnosed with corona. They caught it from an acquaintance who’d not told them of the symptoms they had. Suddenly the sister (with similar existing medical situation to me) had been hit severely with the virus. One minute she’s fine, the next she’s in intensive care. 

“It hit that violently,-“ he’d told me. Then, “I’ve never seen anything like it…in the hospital, people lining the corridors in beds, gasping for breath.”

The image of a fish out of water, gasping for air, and the picture of my mom, right before she died, popped simultaneously into my head. That portrayal of her had been years ago. At least I’d been able to touch her, hold her hand. She had been able to touch her children, be physically comforted by the kiss from her husband.  

That image of her last breath has never left me, though at times I’ve tried to push it away.

It’s just occurred to me that the headline of our era is: 

I can’t breathe. From Floyd, from the climate crisis, from a global pandemic.

But now? Can I just push or swipe away the images I’d rather not see?  Reading online the stories of groups of people catching the virus, when they’d thought, “Ohh…, its just a small group for an hour or two,-“ 

Then all of them catching the virus and so many not recovering.

I’m glad my friend took the time to phone me and tell me of this crisis, this shock that has come into his life and his loved ones. Helping me to hear the reality of this pandemic. Hearing his words, “It’s so heartbreaking! She (his sister) had been getting better, with daily walks. Now they found her lungs suddenly filled with damage that may never go away. The time it will take for her to recover will be so long…” I finished the sentence in my head, ‘…If she lives.’ 

Jesus. Yes, this scared the hell out of me, which is a good thing. Will I read yet another story of “A gathering” somewhere in the world, that was responsible for yet another surge in outbreaks.

Ten steps back. Again.

He’d said, “Just when we were so close to this 3rd wave of virus outbreak ending, this happens! It’s not fair.”

And it’s not. Because the person they’d caught the virus from had not only been irresponsible in their behavior but had kept secret the symptoms she’d felt when she’d invited them over. Dangerous secret from an adult!

And with all the virus deniers, the vaccine refusers, who, really can you trust?

People shrug and think, ‘Ohh…its just a small party, a quick gathering…I’m sure no one has the virus, right?’ I’d thought, ‘Oh…it should be ok. This is what I’d been telling myself about the baby shower. But is that true? How safe was it to believe?

Then thought, ‘Besides, what sort of friend would I be NOT to go?’

This line has gotten me into more trouble and scrapes , more dangerous life threatening situations than any other line in my life. Things I will not repeat here. 

Suffice to say, the line was used inappropriately here, out of guilt. Perhaps in the past I had also used it wrongly, but today I had to consider choosing for myself. That should be easy for me, right? No kids, no partner. No problem, right? 

I considered this:  Now that my illness has finally stabilized, my energy increased for the first time in 5 years of fatigue. After more than a year of staying inside, wearing a mask, no travel, no socializing, no films, theater, restaurants, leaving my home only 2 times a month for groceries, disinfecting the packages, and seeing friends and family only online, will I now take the chance to get this virus, now that it is so close to ending

When we finally have a vaccination, have in our sights to almost have this virus conquered?  No. I can not.

At least in WW2, there was a physical enemy to rebel and fight against. The Nazi infiltration. At least the physical act of refusing to obey could be seen. And also get you killed.

The sneaky people who stole from their Jewish neighbors could not really be pointed out, at the time as traitors, right? It was only history that tagged them as such. ‘…And besides,-‘ I told myself, ‘-You never know what you’ll do to survive a war, until you’re in one, right?’

Well I know now, here, what to do to survive this war. Have the vaccine shot. Wear a mask. Don’t go in groups until we are told it is ok to. The government is not some Nazi regime to overthrow or obey. This is a virus, a physical threat that is real, violent, deadly.

This is almost over for christ sake. Stop making it into a fucking political, constitutional rights issue!

Learn the lessons – the few that survived – from the past. From the 1918 pandemic that lasted too long.

I don’t like being told to be grateful, either. 

But yes, I am grateful there is a vaccine. I had the shots. No problems. 

I’m grateful that more people have not died – YET. 

We are heading towards a finish line of what could have been – and still could be – a horrific crash of the worlds population. 

I told the baby shower goers that instead of attending, I would join them online, along with the family members who lived in other countries. Celebrate this way. I’m grateful this technology exists to keep people together.

It had not been there during the years of HIV/ AIDS. Most of an entire generation died from a disease that went barely noticed by the U.S. President.  The last U.S. President had also not noticed this virus, nor cared. Some things never change. 

Time to get real folks.  It’s time for us to protect each other. This is a pandemic, not a cause.  If you want a movement to fight, fight the climate crisis. 

Foot note:  From the screen snap shots I made of the guests at the baby shower, I created a book for the new baby. In it, some people are shown wearing masks, and a lot of people online from other countries. The new child will learn from his first book the times he was born into.  Hard times and times of hope.

Print of the above image is available for purchase from this link: The Kiss

Why Do They Do It?

An actor uses her own experiences to flesh out the character in a story written by another. I, on the other hand, chose some of my life images and create a story in one picture. A picture can tell a thousand words, if done well.

Why, for the duration of my life, had I never spoken about what went into the images I created? Instead I let each viewer get what they would from the image. Letting the picture tell the story.

Yet as I get older, I realize that I enjoy learning about other writers and artists- what went into the famous images or words..how did they get there, what inspired them? 

I used to think that portraying mystery to a client was better since so many people are in awe of art. “How did you do it?” are words I’ve heard all my life.

As people interested in our own species, how we think and act, are perhaps the most universally sought after puzzles that we, on a daily basis, are bombarded with. 

Why did he do it? We seek answers to this, perhaps more than all others.

If someone sacrifices their life to save another, we seem to not question this as much, but instead we respect the action as heroic. On the other hand, the question of why someone takes the life of another, this question we ask and ponder, spouting our theories online.

I show beauty, with color and shape, in my images, not violence. There is already enough of that in the world. 

I love to look at nature. I still cannot believe how many colors, patterns, shapes of plant, flower, insect, animals we are lucky enough to live among on this planet. It is quite astounding that we still don’t know them all. We feel heartache when a species is threatened, but perhaps because we have so many to choose from we cannot see the beauty of just one. This, I think, goes for humans too.

One great part about living in lockdown, is being made to stop and look around us in a way we never have. To have time to look more closely, seeing details, notice things like how clean the air is, the water is, now that we don’t drive, spending our hours jammed on a freeway. 

To notice the intricate features of our homes, our balcony gardens, our partners or children’s faces. What interests them, what they look at, talk about.

Sure, these habits were once enjoyed in the eras before TV, film, all the distractions. But now we actually see, in extremely slow motion, the difference of what it is to loose what we have.

It’s hard for me to know if this insight is occurring to other people besides me.

Yet I hear from others I know, younger people, they talk about this too. Amid the stress of no job and payments to be made, it is because of this pandemic, that we are forced to step back, stand apart, look into each other’s eyes, above the mask, not distracted by a pretty, or any face.

Perhaps this sort of intimacy is too naked for some people. Maybe it’s why some are freaking out, lashing out, striking out. Why do they do it?

The ticker tape roll call of reasons play out beneath an image: A shooting, the victims, the families, 

again we all are faced with this horror: That in one second, anywhere, life can be changed, be gone. Once again we are faced with what we all know: That our time on this earth is limited. That we have no control over this.

That ticker tape is a giant conversation- or should be: Not to see what we, ourselves think about – what our theory was as to why he did it, then post online, but should be used to see how others think and feel about it.

I read these posts, trying to learn how others see things, in this time especially. 

A time when most of us stay behind a screen and read and type about every single thing in the world

This is kind of amazing – still- if we use it to find out why we are who we are. 

Why we act out, stay silent, scream in BOLD font, or barely whisper a word. Internet giving us this warped freedom to say ugly things we would not normally say to another’s face. And words of support that can’t possibly say enough. 

Now that we are faced with instant gratification and fame but also instantaneous judgement and ridicule. 

And now, not only with words, but icons. What are they now called? Emolis?  The first one I ever saw was Thumbs up or down. 

LIKE. Or DON’T LIKE.

I assume this was taken from the Roman gladiator battles within the colosseums. Where the audience is finally given the rare opportunity to chose for anything in their life. Here, thumbs up or down: who will live or who will die. I find this concept quite terrifying.

So I sat down to write a blog about a painting and see I have so much more to say. I post it and people – if they see it- have the choice to read it or not. My challenge is to keep it interesting enough to keep them reading – to take them by the hand and lead them on a mini journey. This keeps me in practice of writing but also has me take part in my part of history. 

See, I did not think I would sit down to write about another shooting in America. But here I am.

I sit in my tower above the street but my compassion searches the world, via internet. I believe it is important to put in my 2 cents about the times I live in. I too, am asking, still, “Why do we do what we do?”

Like, why is your decision to not wear a mask a right, but for me to not breathe in your virus, not?

Like, I am amazed that I never heard about a pandemic that had infected 1/3 of the population, killed 50 million in the USA and over 100 million world wide, lasting 2 years. Yet even the black plague is world renowned while the pandemic of 1918 remains buried. 

That every single detail and in-fighting of the second world war, has been written of endlessly: I’ve read about, seen films on. 

Why has no one ever written about the pandemic that killed so many people worldwide?  Why has no mention of wearing a mask or no mask, never slipped into the literature of the day? Or had I just not read it? 

Perhaps it’s gone like the aluminum wrist bands I wore during the Vietnam War: the initials, ‘MIA’ stamped on each, to remember those missing in action.  What I wore for my friends’ brothers. These too are gone with the wind.

It’s this sort of detail I still look for, to put down, but now not only in one image. Yes, in a blog to post to the world, because it will mark me in my own time and speak for those who are here as well. 

The stories of how people are or are not, dealing with this pandemic are words I’d never read from the past. About WW2- there are books, films, theory’s, history about how people lived then: with no food, bombers overhead, threatened by dictators, concentration camp terrors, this we know about. 

But somehow, pandemics have been erased from our collective memory. 

People said only a few months ago: “Even if there was a vaccine, I wouldn’t take it. How can I trust a vaccine that was invented so soon?” 

So soon?,-“ I say, “It has been a year. And in this time, the whole world has been struggling to cope with the virus, to rely on science to find a solution.” 

“-With everyone in the world busy in a search,-“ I say, “Of course a vaccine has been found!” 

This is a great example of what can be solved when we all have one common goal. 

This is what can be done to cure climate change before its too late. If only we just shut up and work towards a common goal.

I no longer paint one image to tell my story. Because as I’ve gone along, I see, I watch with interest the interviews about films, directors, painters, writers and as they tell stories of where their inspirations came from, I am delighted to hear these stories. I respect their struggle to find the words, notes, brush strokes to talk about their slice of history.

Each becomes part of the global pie of creative art: One big river of inspiration that flows and each of us can add to it, dip from it, all this for the greater purpose of: teaching each other, learning from each other’s stories of life. It is not a private, exclusive river, like the snooty, in – the – know – people, want to make us believe. 

But a vast flow that we all add to and dip into. 

I no longer think my words of how I was inspired to create a certain image will somehow spoil the ‘Magic’ of the viewer’s experience of it. Instead, it may add to that creative flowing river with how I have inspired them. 

Like the ultimate relay race, handing the baton from one to the next: from one to another, our inspiration helps us to understand ourselves and each other. To share together and tell each other,  

Why we do what we do.

The Quiet Roar

Time

I was at Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam, the botanical garden built in 1682. Plants from around the world had been brought here by ship, to study and be cultivated. It is here that plants from everywhere in the world can be seen.

I strolled along on this warm summer day, unhurried. Today Hortus was open past sunset and into the night, because today, it was the longest day of the year.

I’d chosen to be here on this day, to be alone and ponder the plants, my heart thrilling at every view of a succulent, a cactus, a palm tree: all plants I’d grown up with in Southern California.

It would not be until later years , traveling the cities of Spain, that I would see this same terrain, foliage and desert mountains of my birth home. It was in that moment that I understood this about my own history: After years aboard ship, the crew of the Spanish sailing expedition of 1769 had seen the beautiful mountains, the succulents, and yes, the palm trees of California, and cried out: ” Por fin estamos en casa.-” “Finally we are home.”

My Spanish was minimal but as I looked at the familiar aloe plants, the deep green succulents, the vines of plum colored flowers and mountains, this cry came from my heart. And that day in Amsterdam, as I walked among the plants, felt the warm air on my skin, I was transported back to my birth home of Los Angeles and felt that longing again, that ping in my heart for my home country.

True, most years I can visit there. But not now, during lockdown. Dammit. I can visit but it’s not the same is it? To walk every day on the smooth hot pavement, feel the warm sun on my skin. To watch the bees hover over brightly flowered vines and perfectly shaped gardenias, the scent wrapping seductively around me.

These thoughts accompanied me on that longest day of the year.

My pathway led to a sort of wooden shack that seemed to be so out of place among these well tended gardens. Looking a bit tired and worn out, it reminded me of a visit to Mississippi.

There, I’d stayed in the home of a long time friend who I’d known as a child. An older widower, who’d never learnt to read or write. She kept her home tidy and well scrubbed. The floorboards were worn and creaked, the paint flaking. Newspaper pages were stuffed into the frames of the window to keep out the winter cold.

It was this wooden shack that had triggered those images. I said aloud a ‘thank you‘ for this memory I still have, this ability to grasp the exact details of a yesterday so long ago. To see the smile beam from her cocoa skin, my cherished friend. She had not been rich in money but her zest for life could be heard in her laughter, shown on her face and her smile .

Growing up, I thought that all grown ups smiled. Maybe that was a different time. But no, the marches for civil rights had been going on then, as well as protests against the Vietnam War. But somehow back then, people still treated each other with respect: nodding to each other, saying hello as they passed on the street, men even tipped their hats. Being raised in a suburb can feel like living inside a cloud or a bubble. But even then I’d seen glimmers of racism, the leers of chauvinism. And the poor, or at least the less well off, were also treated slightly different. Actions discreetly acted out in whispers. I’d watched and listened, too timid or intimidated to speak. I never forgot nor forgave myself.

At the Horica Botanicus, I walked toward the screen door of the shed and gently opened it. Inside it was shady and cool. A completely separate world from the bright sun outside. All around me, plants set on wooden tables, their seedlings barely sprouting. It was very quiet, like a church. The few people inside spoke in whispers. I saw no windows, only screens which were tinted but kept the air circulating. I felt I was standing inside an Egyptian tomb.

Yet as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I caught glimpses of color flashes and the gentle flittering of shapes floating around me. Then I heard-could I have heard it? Because  Butterflies don’t sing . And yet, I heard the sound of a hundred butterflies. Surrounding me, each one a distinctive color or size, all exquisite. Like gentle angels, they fluttered to my shoulder, my forearms, around and on my face. The experience demanded from me absolute respect and stillness and yet, it was the gentlest touch I have ever felt.

The whole city was silent on this longest day of the year. Because that day in the city, every single person was crammed into a bar, a pub or the home of friends. Why? It was 1998, and the vital tie breaking match of the world soccer championship was happening at that very moment.

Yet I had not jumped into the hysterics of the crowd, with all its excitement and drinking and cheering. Instead, I chose to be alone, here at Hortus Botanicus, to feel the vibrations of my hometown, to wrap myself in the memories of my youth, surrounded by the shades of green that grew only here, in carefully tended gardens, or in Spain or on the streets of my hometown: Los Angeles with it’s silky mountains, the minty scent of Eucalyptus leaves in the warm desert air and of course, the palm trees.

Here, in absolute silence I remembered sitting high atop a red mountain of Sedona, Arizona, under a perfect blue sky. Complete stillness surrounded me with only the gentle flap of a chihuahuan raven’s wings and the almost indistinguishable, “Puff” of a hot air balloon, floating in the distance.

Because of this, as I stood in such silence, I became aware of a sound I’ll never forget. As if a symphony of humans tried to rise and fall. Tried to but couldn’t break into this silent moment of mine. I almost did not hear this sound rarely heard: That of humans calling out in unison but as if from a different outlaying village. Seemly more like a memory than a current event, I heard the far off, barely detectable hum of, ‘yeah!’ A goal had been scored. And throughout evening, all over the city, every now and then, I heard, this distant, almost imperceptible, quiet roar.

I’d thought of all this as I stood in front of a blank canvas, a book of pictures of butterflies open before me. I’ve forgotten if I actually read this somewhere: that after the long hibernation inside a cocoon, a butterfly emerges. But she only lives for one day. Whether it is true or not, that image stayed in my mind.

I thought about how heartless that would be, after all that effort to survive inside a cocoon, then be given only one day to live. Beautiful, vibrant and free to fly but with restrictions.

Of course, this is the knowledge that separates us from other animals and insects- even butterflies. Because we are given at birth the knowledge – or curse – of knowing that we will not live forever. So what will we make of our time here? How will we treat not only each other but the precious bounty of color and shape, scents and sights, wind and rain and sun that is the beautiful Mother Nature that surrounds us? What will we do to hear, and then calm, the Quiet Roar?

(A print of the image, Time, seen above is available through my website. To see this image on video, click here: Butterflies don’t sing.

Death of the Wanna Be

Golfer

7 January 2021

This piece is a further reflection after my last piece, Ugly Beauty. If you have not yet read it, I’ll wait.

Just kidding. I’d like though to put here a few notes from my journal, as to the struggle of when and if to post Ugly Beauty. They went like this:

I’ve been trying to talk myself into or out of, what I wrote. Its called Ugly Beauty and that’s kinda what its about. Mixed with that desire (that most women were raised to have) to be good. 

So I tell myself: Be positive, don’t post such a downer so soon after the holidays or so close to our new beginning of 2021, a new president and historical vice president, a positive corona vaccine. 

It’s easier to wrap myself in a warm blanket and smile to the future.

But is this how I got here? How we all did? 

Without paying attention, or worse, letting ourselves be talked out of or into insanity, or just exhausted by the never ceasing twitter rant texts coming out of the White House for more than four years? Letting ourselves be almost beaten down, with so much trash from a president and his clan, we had no more- almost– strength to fight back.

But I was reminded by a friend that I had a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning of the year 2020. We both had. And the more I spoke to people, I heard them also optimistically say that positive things were coming, were here, I feel it in the air.

Well, we found out what actually was in the air.

Seriously?

I go on here because of a few things. One, its that I still feel odd to post The Ugly Beauty. It’s a downer I say to me. Then I read it again and think, its realistic. And perhaps, as I had, people will read it and acknowledge my words, somehow it could help better than if I just stay silent and put a bow on everything.

And with that I will now go even further to say this:

I am not known as a happy, positive person. My last blogs will prove that. 

But I gotta tell you, this year, starting yesterday, shows me the wave of positive unity has finally started, beginning with the death of the wanna be.

Yesterday, I watched, as all the world did, while what I consider the absolute worst of America, infested the capital.

I gazed upon those I saw to be the white male ancestors of slave owners, of church burners, of union bashers, of klan members, of cross burners, of brown shirt nazis, of gangs with a lynch mob mentality. These are who are in love with the president.

In absolute stark contrast to the clean, professional, business suited, well spoken politicians and senate aids, to the honorable and brave capitol police, who guarded the congress inside, (I will not go into conspiracy theories of who let them in, that is for traitors and the law to figure out.) to the quick thinking senate aids who grabbed and safe guard the electoral votes , and to the press who was there to report the truth,  I salute you, heroes all.

In stark contrast to them were what the president has to have now become terrified of:

That which he has unleashed out of the pandora’s box – NO – not a woman’s box god dammit, but a man’s weak, whiny, feel sorry for self white privileged asshole with a dream. Not, the “I have a dream,-” but the “I wanna be….king”. No pun intended at all.

This is a male dream. For a special sort of man. The worst kind of man. One who pretends to work, pretends to hunt, pretends to fight, pretends to be smart, pretends to serve, but who actually lives inside an insane dream world, without a speck of creativity, compassion, or empathy. Nor a drop of hard work, sensitivity, or love, not even for family. The sort that has absolutely no honesty, not even to himself. Who blames others, who avoids then denies, who makes up a whole new truth to fit his obscene set of insanity. It is not insanity, nor evil. It is just a man who is a total jerk loser.

And it is these men who hold up this sort of man as a god, who stormed in mass, killing one of the only women who joined them. 

And now the president, in his fear, is no longer texting out cryptic double messages, like, “I love you, (I love you?)…our journey is only just beginning…” But instead, “..you do not represent our country..” This must feel like a knife to their heart. He doesn’t care.

Instead he is showing his absolute repulsion at the images of his “Patriots”: Bull-horned, half naked dressed in animal skins with red, white and blue painted faces, stinky boots on polished desks, with his name on banners forever linked to the worst (not greatest) riots on the capital and the country in history. 

Watching the Republicans over the last years felt like a game of dominos- not the game, but what I used to play with the dominoes: Carefully lining them up in a line, standing about an inch apart, goose stepping, carefully, patiently, standing as soldiers, as rigid and stiff as tombstones. 

We waited and tried 4 years, to disrupt them, change the order, trying to knock them down, to topple the wanna be king. 

And NOW, in one day, the hero Stacy Abrams and all those who truly care about the country, who have fought the harder fight, and with it, gained democrat control of the Senate, securing the future of America. It is not over. The fact that the congress is now 50/50 does not escape me. We all have now a 50/50 chance for survival, in climate, in justice, in harmony of the country.

This could not have succeeded so well: not in any Hollywood script, nor biblical scripture, nor written in blood document, or even in a pandemic. 

This is the absolute best downfall of a wanna be king. 

He will not be re-elected, nor die as a martyr. But the coward he is. His worst case scenario: To be discarded and forgotten.

And with him, his fucking fan club. Why you ask? 

Because a love like this, when betrayed this badly, is final and permanent. 

Looking at his last loyal soldier- Pence- the face of a betrayed, discarded lover, when once his eyes glistened only for his hero president, now looks like a beaten wife, rejected and heartbroken. When up till now, his respect bordered on the fascinated, in love, blind. 

Love is blind. 

But Love from a swarm of desperate and lost wanna be knights of the roundtable or a besotted vice-president? And lets not forget the chameleon thief Mitch as his side kick.

Love this ridiculous and unhinged, can only end in betrayal. This must have been what the brown shirts and nazi’s felt when Hitler committed suicide. 

Betrayed. 

As far as I am concerned, this is the absolute BEST ending to a sick, greedy, controlling wanna be dictator. To see him whimper to his “followers” that they did too much, and for the clan trump to feel betrayed by their wanna be king.

The puss of this disease- that of hatred.  The hatred feeds off itself but must first must come to a head and pop before the healing begins.

Do I want only suits and clean polite words in the congress? NO. Do I want better than what I saw infest the capitol? YES. America is a glorious mix of church goers and ex-cons, homeless and business owners, educated and not, immigrants and born in the USA, and those on a journey like me. Traveling back to Europe so to feel what my ancestors felt: starvation, invasion, occupation, holocaust, hope.

Fuckig irony is that the puss heads wanted exactly the opposite of what the actual patriots wanted when they fought to start the country: 

A king to bow down to, to listen and do as told, to be brave for and try to impress, to lick the boots of, to “Die for” (so they said apparently)

The only defeat of a dictator that I have seen in my life time was of Saddam Hussein. Yesterday’s outcome has come crashing down as surely as Saddam Hussein statues were yanked to the ground. One by one in anger, revenge, white power entitled passion.

Be careful Donald, what you wish for.

They will be after you now. 

Print of the above image, Golfer, is available from my site.

The Ugly Beauty

11.12.2020.

California… the song by Joni Mitchel, comes sadly into my head as it does every Christmas. My hometown. I pass the time instead thinking of the reasons I did love this city of Amsterdam…to walk everywhere…to a film, theater, an opera. Through this crooked city- not from corruption but literally because the buildings lean on each other like drunken sailors. 

Where I know I can walk from that sight, down tiny pathways, over bridges, next to the University, towards tables filled with used paperback novels. I search titles and authors I’d never studied but now I collect as an adult.  Especially the gay stories.

My eye catches the view from my window. Two men unloading from their white van. Delivery of two washing machines. And as I watch the men using the same tools of years, no centuries before, that of a handtruck- centuries ago called sacktruck- and their own bodies, I wonder, really, will robots ever take their jobs? Will a robot ever use the same mechanics to unload a van? Sliding the wash machine off the van’s bed, then grip it, so to help it off the van, undamaged, to the ground?

Now I glance at the window beside me, of the neighbor who lives there. I wonder why her Christmas lights are not turned on for the past two nights. Logic tells me she has gone for visits to family or friends. But as far as I’ve seen, she has none. And there are no visits now since the virus started and now is worse. I could count on her for sports I could view for free from her big screen TV, through her window to mine, all the way over here. But there are no sports now either. 

I worry she is not ok. But I am too polite to go check. And I think she would be offended to learn she is watched by me. 

The workers have disappeared. And I remember why I got out of bed so early to write. The post I had seen from a friend in Los Angeles yesterday, who wrote of a public performance of a ballet dancer inside a glass ball- the only way she can dance safely during a pandemic. 

I felt the writer’s sadness as she talked of the absence of ballet, theater, music performances. She said, “We will survive this.” 

And I think, ‘Yet how amazing it is- a dancer in a glass ball. What a great idea!’ One that would not have come if not being trapped inside, in lockdown. 

And I think, perhaps more people are now seeing art from inside, who would never be going into a museum or performance. Because they would be too busy working in an office or factory, or driving freeways in LA. Or perhaps had never seen or thought to go to an opera or ballet but now I hoped would, because of this introduction to it online. 

Is this what happens to prisoners? Trapped, locked inside, they are faced with only their own brain and heart, so replay all they’ve done to get in there? Or all they miss? Is this what I’m doing? 

Such an oppressive term: Lockdown. LA in lockdown. And as I read her words about missing art, in all its forms: image, dance, music and word, I know it is these last two she misses the most. 

And perhaps, when lockdown also kept her from walking the beaches, her longing was just as forlorn as the words of the surfer I’d read. He had written  to the Los Angeles times at the beginning of the pandemic, (and somehow was picked up my the AP, so I could read it in the NY Times, all the way over here) 

When the beaches had been closed, he’d written, “Why am I being denied what I love? That which keeps me sane not insane?” He then went on to describe the pulse and rhythm of the waves, I could feel the spray and the pace and I was again there. And how damn grateful I was for the words of passion he felt. Because, in place of he alone on the Pacific Ocean, or a photograph of himself on a wave, his words were describing to me the pain he felt in his missing that vast body of water, the pulse and temperature of her.

Perhaps this disease has come, for the sole purpose of making us see and feel that which we would lose- are in danger of losing: The sea, the streets, the art that humans make to show each other the beauty  we are blessed to be living in. And the danger of it’s loss.

Artists like Kathe Kollwitz, who in the years leading up to WW1,  drew pictures of her fellow humans, portrayed starvation in the bleak winter and emotions of grief and inner conflict. She captured for all humanity the realism of those times, depicting human suffering with brutal honesty. Or perhaps she drew them so as to somehow believe what she was seeing.

I think of those now in the front lines in hospitals. Who tell their stories of what they are seeing. Is it now only with film crews that we can believe these images they tell us of? Is there no other truth except image- and even then, one part of society disbelieves it?

Was it only lack of photographs that kept the horrors of the concentration camps from a disbelieving public? Or was it that other thing- that part of humanity that just cannot believe that one person or group can inflict such horrors on another?

Is it easier to disbelieve when there are no images to prove it? That’s why secrets are the stuff of blackmail. And one part of society causing the other to feel shame of love for another’s skin color or same sex- the shame that many use a bible or blog to inflict pain with. And yet, even with an image like Floyd, we see but cannot believe. Like what the image of the twin towers did to me- to many. Airlines smashing into towers, or before that, World War 2 airplanes flying over Pearl Harbor, bombs raining down upon paradise- all captured by photographs, black and white and a body count. 

What good does a body count do now? The bodies- other humans who we read about to see who they were and we feel sick or relief because they had not voted against ‘Us’, whoever ‘Us’ is. The ones who laugh at ‘Us’. 

I’ve re-read these pages and think again of my neighbor. In this city, back in 1940 people disappeared. Perhaps folks like me- too shy or lacking language skills or not aggressive enough- did not go check on their neighbors. So the secret parts -the ghettoes of the city, then the camps remained either unknown or disbelieved. Because who could believe such things were happening behind brick walls? What we were hearing.

I’ve seen the reenactments. Life size photographs of a woman throwing a child over a brick wall towards safety. I’ll never forget that image. And its here because someone had actually stood there and watched  it happen. 

Remember the scene in Gone with the Wind? When Scarlett went to search among the wounded? A never ending sea of screaming, writhing bodies. And even that scene, that image, was too clean. There would have been blood. Red rivers everywhere. And when seen from above, that gives the powerful scope of it all. Not that they were killed brother against brother: that human link that all humans can connect to, but the number of those killed. Can only be believed when seeing it in a wave of bodies, too far to see an end to.

This is what, if lain side by side, we would see from this pandemic. 

And each cadaver, just hours, no minutes before, a live breathing being, upon whom others were frantically trying their best, in absolute exhaustion and overwork and with out proper protection, to keep alive.

These are the images we are not yet shown. One day the photos will surface, taken from a phone, of bodies in hallways, nurses resting exhausted on gurneys or under tables. 

The faces of exhaustion will be shown one day, like the black and white photographs of those snapped during the depression. The Dust Bowl families with no hope, surrounded by hungry children. These images slice our heart, enrage us, have us reach towards each other in humanity not anger. 

I’m reminded that it was not the live images of 1960 riots that had me take up a brush to paint,  Those who ignore History . It was the Los Angeles riots of 1992, that raged near my neighborhood. That had me searching through books for photographs to round out the image I had in my head: I’d combined the civil rights march with the holocaust, and all the racist worms slid out from beneath their hiding places. 

Was I surprised they were there? Not really. West Hollywood had just swam out of the gutter of Reagan: the president who had not even looked at, much less acknowledged a whole generation lost to AIDS. Even for his actor buddies, and by then, it was way too late. 

He instead had sided with conservative racism under the cloak of, “Good for America.” 

I picture that cloak as the image in Picture of Dorian Grey– who’s corruption festered within. I wonder now, if the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes was about this. For only a child would have had the guts to say aloud what the public felt inside. Like the child Greta does now. 

I suppose corruption- when covered in jewels is a mystifying, mystified illusion of beauty. Too stunning to look away from. 

I’d been captured – for a minute- when viewing the crown jewels in London. I’d understood why they were sought to steal. Was it that they were held behind bars? So, like a thick walled safe, assumed to be of value? 

Yes, they were stunning in sight, but beautiful? Every beauty queen or starlet must eventually see the tattered veil of that role. 

But ironically, the audience never does. They judge, snipe and snark about HER- the fat, the age, the attitude of her, and yet we all bow to the queen of captivating beauty. 

Did I? Do I? Of course. Yet I balance my meal of sweets with solid, sometimes hard to swallow facts:

That humans can be, are, ugly. 

And the presidents are people, not kings. Hell, even kings are human. And no matter what they are cloaked in, disease festers with in them as well. When they are supported and allowed to run crazy, dictators are born.

I glance out of the window and see the Christmas lights of my neighbor are switched on. Will I ever go knock on her door or have a conversation? 

For being in lockdown, I have quite a view. The world walks beneath and far off. I could be a king in this ivory tower. But kings never did look out of their windows. Perhaps only, as Hitler had, to view the next territory he would take over and occupy. 

I’m turning towards a horror image I would rather not see. To an image of color and beauty. Perhaps my mother finally got her wish when she’d said to me in high school, “Can’t you paint pretty pictures?” Well, bless her, she could, out of necessity, but I can’t. Not really. Life is a mix. As a child I’d been inspired from Martin Luther King and the Kennedys. They were assassinated. 

I look out my window for escape. Water speckles my pane. The sky turns from pale grey toward dark. No color at all, but upon one neighbor’s balcony, a string of colored lights. And I wonder of my home town who gleefully strung Christmas lights but not gay rainbows, and turn toward my big screen neighbor. She must be sad there are not sports on- what she lived for. This countries’ soccer team battling a rival country. At least its on a green field not in the streets. 

She probably never thinks of what I write here. Yes, her grandparents or parents probably lived through the occupation, but that’s been forgotten in every day life. 

No one talks of such things anymore, except perhaps in the museums devoted to the memory of those lost during the holocaust.

Well, I’m glad for those museums.

Because even Mother Nature does not completely wipe all truth away. Try as she may for the bleak winter before the rebirth of spring, it is only humans who try not to see, who disbelieve, who have the luxury to turn away and hide. 

It is the animals, the homeless, the refugees, the ill and the children who truly see, 

that life is both beautiful and ugly, 

sometimes in the same moment. 

To see this painting on video…. or to purchase a museum quality print of the images above, Pacific Moon or Those who Ignore History.

Amsterdam, Tuesday 15 December ~ 6 Week Lockdown

I’d heard this would happen. As I’d been planning to meet with a friend from out of town. I’d suggested we go to our favorite Portuguese restaurant near Central Station- If it was open. He replied, 

“Everything is closed.”

Those 3 words don’t really describe what that means though. We planned to meet Friday. 

And just as it had been for my birthday in October, tomorrow, everything would be closed. Then, I’d opted not to meet a friend on my birthday night. The last night of bars and restaurants to be open?

They’ll be packed. Not worth it. 

Again 3 words that don’t really describe. 

I went for a walk with a mission today. Not for health, or food, as I’d been doing every couple of weeks. I’d  bought more. 

Just in case. 

The 3 words my brother, who lives in Los Angeles, had said at the beginning of this pandemic. 

As we chatted on the phone, he was interrupted by his wife who texted, “San Francisco goes into lockdown today. They say LA will be next.”

That day, I’d done as he suggested: bought more food than was necessary. Just in case. In the shops here there’d been no raids on the shelves, no masks worn. I was the only one wearing one and it had taken me 5 shops to find one to buy. Hospitals had priority. I hadn’t known then, that supplies were low. None of us had. 

Seems so long ago now- back then, before the summer. Seems years.

Today I was awoken from sleep by an argument from two men on the street. Loud voices, impatient, sounding more tired than angry. But I awoke from a not real sleep by them, then by a truck. 

Fuck it. I’ll make coffee. I had to mail holiday cards before it became New Years. So I did this: shower, a bit of make up, nice clothes to walk to the post office a few blocks away. 

Upon arrival, I stood staring at the door. The sign on it said, “Post only.” Of course it’s post, that’s why I’m here. 

What did it mean? I was about to find out.

Walking there, I passed shops that were shut tight. A lot of them. Three barbershops in one block. I’d peaked in the window. Between each barberchair, the owner had hung hard plastic for protection. Now the place was empty. All for nothing. 3 words.

I was reminded of Los Angeles, back when the city council had ordered restrictions be put into bars and restaurants for smoking sections. So every owner had paid money for huge fans to suck out the smoke, put up dividers and partitions. A lot of money.  I’d been a waitress then. I worked at a very popular dime-store coffee shop/restaurant in West Hollywood. It also had a bar and a patio.  A place for all sorts of people: Gays on weekends, to Bloody Mary their hangovers. Old folks at 5 pm to receive their pensioner discounts. The tables packed with every working or non working character actor from the last 30 years of film and television. There were waiting lines on weekends for the patio and bar area- where one could smoke.  But soon the city council decided the protection was not enough. Without public vote, the ex-smoker, ex-drinker mayor proclaimed Los Angeles a non-smoking city. I’d gone to the public meetings. Filled with waiters telling of the drop in crowds, in business. Yes, I’d been a smoker then. Yes it pissed me off. But even the non smoking waiters argued against the regulations. Because they were loosing tips so loosing money. There were only so many patio seats if you even had a patio and a lot of tips to be gotten. And of course, the owners had spent money. For a promise. All for nothing. 

So walking here to the post office reminded me of this and also the Northridge/Los Angeles earthquake of 1994, the last one I’d felt before moving from there. It had been a SLAM. Loud, violent, sudden. The sort of disasters I grew up with along with the brush fires and mud slides. None of that went on over here. Hell, my first weeks here, I’d panicked from a large truck rumbling by. All of me thought it had been another earthquake or tremor.

By then, I’d become a bit fed up with the city I’d been born in. Thirty years living in a town of tinsel. Everyday sun, heat, sweating. Hookers in cars beneath my window, helicopters at night overhead announcing their search for an armed man. “Stay inside,-“ the voice shouted down on us. I was sick of it. My apartment was cracked from the earthquake, my car unsafe in the carport below my window.  I’d found a homeless man sleeping and smoking inside it when I went to go to work. I’d asked him to leave. He’d said, “Oh! I thought this was abandoned!” Yeah, everyone’s a critic.

I looked around the city I loved. She looked so tired. Ragged. Old, without charm or character. She’d been beaten up, slapped, neglected and abandoned. No longer the starlet but now the worn out hag. She’d lost her sparkle. She no longer captivated me. Right now as I write this, I feel ugly- like a male CEO studio executive dismissing a hopeful starlet, or trying to fuck one.  It was time for me to swim out of the pond, into waters far across the sea. I feel sad thinking of her this way. I’ve been back and seen her now with her proper facelift, her youth restored. I smile at her as the taxi drives from LAX. She was back. But I wasn’t.

So walking this small city, I step toward the post office door, where hangs a sign stating, “Post only.”  I didn’t quite understand its meaning. I step inside to see I am the only customer. Surrounded by racks of holiday cards and tables of gift calendars. Ten days before Christmas. The place felt almost abandoned as I listened to the woman who ran the shop read from a letter she had just received from the city council.  She said, “…must be used only for post. No newspapers, no magazines, no office supplies, no cigarettes,-” which had been walled off and locked up.  I stepped toward her and asked if I could buy ink for my printer. She replied, “I don’t know! I don’t know if I can! This says no.” She was Dutch. It was not the language she didn’t understand but it’s meaning. 

I look out my window as I hear an incredible sound for this time of year. The squawk of a parrot. No, not on  some tropical island like where I’d like to be, but here. Yep, there it is- green- parrot green against the dull grey sky. Reminding me of the summer and the last time I’d heard people snapping at each other. During a heatwave that lasted this year for months, not the usual days or weeks. Unheard of here. People are not used to it. Makes them out of sorts. Like Los Angeles when it rains- when it used to rain. 

And here, in the summer, there were still tables outside. No festivals. It was too hot to be inside, even for me who grew up in a desert city. 

The only activity I see now from my window are the yellow vested delivery men (not women-still) The postmen on their orange saddle bagged bicycles. The only way people are getting their gifts for the holidays they won’t have. 

At the post office, and later in the market, I’d seen the front pages of every Dutch Newspaper. On them, Rutte, the Dutch prime minister with his mask on, looking towards the camera snapping flashbulbs. Well, he will not suffer from the headlines. Because now there is nowhere to buy the papers. The newspaper headlines translate to: ‘We Must.’ And another, a photograph of groups of shoppers, half with masks, congested in front of Christmas lighted shut shop windows, ‘Wij moeten dit doen’, ‘We must do this.’ 

It’s a sad day. A few days ago I read a post from a friend in LA. She told of a ballet dancer in a glass bubble: the only safe way she could dance in public. When I read that, I still had not been out in the city, not for weeks.  So it hit me today. It’s just that the city feels, looks so tired, abandoned. Like everyone has gone on vacation.  But I know they are here, inside, maybe lonely. Alone. Three words.  Pray its over.  Pray for vaccine. Squawk of parrots, Climate change Christmas.  It’s not over.  I have hope.