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Still Life. Still?
Life imitates Art.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Everybody's lookin' for some way in
I'm lookin' for some way out
I've been wastin' my time standin' in line
If this is what it's all about
True to my word, I am exploring the world of Still Life today. Slightly less exciting than Fun with Flags, but radically more riveting than power riveting.
As I discussed in my last post, I will focus on the elements I’ve identified as crucial in the creation of culture. These elements are necessarily broad and inclusive and swallow up most of life. Great, you say. Still Life? Thrilling, please tell me more, right?
It doesn’t take much to push me down the fabbit-hole. I have a fascination with the term STILL LIFE. It feels like an oxymoron. It started with the picture below that I took and sent to a friend. When I stared at it, I saw more than the plate of fruit showed me.
The textures, colors, and geometry spoke to a place inside me not connected to my brain. The bruising of bananas, the desiccation of citrus, the artificiality of vegetation, set against a bifurcated burnished backdrop, intimated a secret dimension that I could only guess about.
I left the symbolism behind for a while when my head stared pounding and I focused on the representation. I wanted to see what I could do with this image that contained so much in so sparse a shot.
Thats when SunCatcherStudio landed at the top of my search results. The couple that run it are super smart math geeks and woodworker and tech guru and farmer bohemians types. Just my kind of folk. They give every thing away for free and just ask for donations. SunCatcherStudio is awesome!
I uploaded the images and played around with effects and came up with new art based on new art. I wonder if I can retain Hunter’s agent to gallery me? Once I finished the images below, I turned back to symbolism. And wow, is there symbolism in Still Life.
Prison is Still Life
Funny how one thing leads to another. After pausing my perusal of personal prison paraphernalia a year ago, this particular journey down the fabbit-hole jarred loose a related memory.
I remembered being transferred from one prison to another, Lancaster to Folsom. I landed on Fish Row around Father’s Day in 2008 (A fish is new to prison politics and the reality of how prisons run). Folsom State Prison is a grown-ass man’s prison. I advise don’t get sent there.
Folsom has five housing units, including the original two-tiered structure that is over a century old. Unit 1 is the most populous cellblock in the United States, with a capacity of nearly 1,200 inmates on four, five-tiered sections. All cells at Folsom include a toilet, sink, bunks, and storage space.
Fish Row occupies the 2nd Tier of Housing Unit 1. The cell doors are opened by a hand crank operated by a guard. Directly opposite of my cell was the guard tower. I could see eye-to-eye with the machine-gun toting cop on duty.
To get to the Mess Hall, ironically the same room Johnny Cash performed in, the Fish had to walk by the Lifers. Holy Fuck. I can’t begin to describe the Still Life I saw in Real Life. Maybe the only way I can possibly relate that reality is sharing the video compilation from Folsom. It’s almost an hour long and it’s mind-numbing boredom is brutal.
As an aside, the video of the cops beating that dude Tyre to death this week brought back some bad stuff. And watching the video below did the same. Prison changes a man, deep down and forever.
On my second day there, a dude “fell” off the 5th Tier. I had a two-week stretch of time with no access to books and all of my personal shit was in lock down. I had a pencil and a pad of paper. And my imagination. This is some of what I came up with.
The isolation fills the empty spaces thicker than blood and keeps them apart.
The isolation is only contained in a box. A collection of solitary items thrown together haphazardly.
This is what Freedom feels like. Nothing is connected and everything floats.
It appears that my subconscious-self sketched this without realizing the deep imagery and symbolism I created or included in the piece. I’m fascinated by it. I haven’t seen it since October 2020, and before that, since 2009, when I got out.
Let’s pick it apart, shall we? Let’s start with the wine - PIA - Prison Industrial Alliance paid me 32 cents an hour. Blood of Jesus anyone? Comes with a side of body, er, biscuit - one castigated from the others that touch. Cleaved by the serpent-tongued knife from society, I’m kept apart from happiness by loneliness, as are the apple and the lemon.
Reconciliation and reunion are enjoyed only by the pears, while the empty glass and abandoned cork remain. The wine is open but unpoured, the cheese uneaten, the bread unbroken. All attest to the self-induced loss I suffer.
I remember now the time when I produced these sketches, but I do not remember the actual drawing of them. Which leads me to believe that there is symbolism in my inspiration. Or vice-versa.
My recent research on this element validates my interest.
Fruit. Skulls. Candles. What do the objects commonly found in still life artworks really mean? Let’s take a closer look.
I know I say it all the time, like on every post with a playlist, but . . .
I’ll use a different word. The songs on this list are luscious. I just listened to it on the 45 minute drive into work. Check out Crown Lands, a two-piece Canadian force that is steeped in RUSH sensibilities. And then check out Willow Avalon, she’s incredible. Hymn To Me and As I Rise are musical Still Life’s. Their texture coats your ears with velvet.
Happy 2/3/23 Day! Make the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity,