Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Clearing

I’m going to talk about one of my paintings, The Clearing. It looks on the surface to be a Doctor Doolittle thing, a guy talking to animals. The animals listen intently. In my mind he is telling them that they should run for it. The area is going to be cleared to make room for the ever expanding humans.

I’ll call the fellow the omnipotent woodsman. He is at one with the creatures and nature, but has no control over the humans. Who does? They just keep coming. They always pick the most beautiful spots to move into and before you know it the places aren’t beautiful anymore. And they breed. They don’t know when to stop or even slow down a little. They don’t even seem to care if it will certainly be the end of all of them.

So the painting is really about overpopulation. I am not as well spoken or as nice a guy as Bryan Welch, publisher of Mother Earth News. His article A Vision for a Better World should be read by everyone. Personally I think that anyone who chooses to have more than two children is being irresponsible to all of earths inhabitants including their own kids.

Any way I had a lot of fun painting these animals and trying to give each one a personality. If you look at the big horn sheep he is looking you in the eye and saying “What are you going to do about this?” My favorite is the grasshopper. I have an affinity for them. I talk to them sometimes and I have seen that each one has a distinct personality, as do all creatures. If you take some time to go outside to feel the pulse and breath and life of this planet you will find you can sense how the earth itself is a living being. A being who can care for and provide for everyone, providing we don’t allow ourselves to become an infestation. When that happens she will find a way to rid herself of us.


These are charcoal sketches and drawings that I have done recently just for practice. They are 18 x 24 inches, the sketches (first ten) are $100. The drawings (last 2) are $200. Shipped in a tube, $10 shipping and handling.

Where is the line?

I have found the line between what is acceptable as fine art and what is not.

Is it:
Quality of construction? No.
Art that self destructs is a genre.
It’s not subject matter.
Anything goes. Even shock value has lost it’s shock and it’s value.
Composition? Again, no.
A popular form is to inspire the urge to take the piece down and turn it another way.


It is Superhippo. I created him in high school at age 15. It was 1970.
My art teacher tried hard to make me stop drawing him but my notebooks filled up with Superhippo and his supporting cast. Hippie Hippo, Prostitute Hippo, Cop Hippo and others. I sewed a Superhippo on my jean jacket. I made a big paper mache Superhippo which hung in my room. These things are gone now. Recently I missed him so I painted him. Mostly just for myself and to remember a time when I knew everything.

I hung the painting in my solo show in the Underground Gallery at the Kansas City Artists Coalition in June. The River Market Regional Exhibition was upstairs at the time. Juror Jerry Saltz took the time to come downstairs and discuss my work. He liked a lot of it and said I was “Ready”. ( He didn’t specify for what.) He gave the advice to “Stay away from the comic book stuff.” He was referring to Superhippo.

In a blog, Tracy Abeln, art reviewer for The Pitch magazine, called my show “well worth while” but called Superhippo “ridiculous and out of place”. This actually made me very happy. And finally Marina, my wife, was not thrilled that he is the second image under the category of paintings on my website.

So if you want to be a good judge of fine art just think about Superhippo. If what you see is less silly than he is, it is OK. If it is sillier or goofier or more ridiculous than him, it is not OK.

So thank you Superhippo for providing us all with a way to evaluate the vast and previously confusing world of art.

These are charcoal sketches and drawings that I have done recently just for practice. They are 18 x 24 inches, the sketches (first seven) are $100. The drawings (last 5) are $200. Shipped in a tube, $10 shipping and handling.