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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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26 June 2010

gratuitous image

No. 1,304 (cartoon)

I’m happy.

You’re hallucinating.

I’m happy.

27 June 2010

Favorite Places on Earth

I received a note from my friend Bob; he reported that he was delighted to be back from traveling throughout southern Europe.

“I love traveling,” he reported, “but I am always happiest to come home to my favorite place on earth.”

Now here’s the punch line: he lives in Wisconsin, a state known for its cheese and, well, something else I suppose. My reaction reveled a chauvinism of which I was not aware, one those of us who live on the west coast share with Texans. We arrogantly assume anyone who doesn’t live here just can’t figure out how to escape where they’re at.

I found this commonality with Texans unnerving, since I thought the only things we shared were a common disdain, and, well, something else I suppose.

28 June 2010

Flee the Wacky Worm!

Last week a Petaluma carny picked the wrong time to cross the roller coaster track at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. It was at that exact moment when the Wacky Worm zoomed down the tracks and severed the unfortunate work’s leg. That’s the kind of injury that’s going to hurt the next morning, and be remembered for a lifetime.

The Midway of Fun [sic] worker, in his twenties, will have to suffer more than a missing leg. He’ll have to repeat thousands of times that he lost his leg to the Wacky worm. Not a Maserati crash, not a bomb, not a crocodile or a shark, not even, not an untreated infection when he was a prisoner of a brutal enemy, not any of the nominally good—or at least interesting—ways one can lose a limb. No, the unfortunate man will have to explain that he was one of the Wacky Worm’s myriad victims.

And that’s too bad. When someone asks me how I lost most of my right index finger, I perversely enjoy saying “sledgehammer” then watching the reaction. No one has ever laughed or smirked, the way they might have done had I answered, “Wacky Worm.”

The amusement ride has injured both riders as well as the one-legged carny; I think it should be rechristened Maggot of Doom, Parasite of Pain, or some other more accurate moniker. Unless and until that happens, should you spot anything resembling a Wacky Worm on the Midway of Fun [sic], here’s one word of advice.


29 June 2010

gratuitous image

The Arrows Point East and South

Tomorrow is my last day at my Fort Mason studio; what next?

Looking back, I’m grateful to government painters for providing many of the rewarding aesthetic experiences I’ve enjoyed during my four-year stay here. Were it not for their selfless work, I could never had made Two Sketched and Two Painted Arrows, Twenty-One Fort Mason, San Francisco, Parking Lines, Seventeen Fort Mason, San Francisco, Painted Rails, and Three Fort Mason Pyramids.

Now, as I’m about to leave, I see that the civil servants have given me a final gift: a freshly-painted, two-headed arrow pointing east and south. I shall take the two-dimensional oracle advice and head in one of those directions, unless I head north or west.

Goodbye, Fort Mason, and thanks for all the views and lines.

30 June 2010

gratuitous image

Agadir/San Francisco Sand Exchange

I came of visual age with Ansel Adams and the late Edward Weston holding my ocular hand. Thus, I have no choice but to photograph dramatic sand formations; it’s in my aesthetic blood.

When I packed for my Morocco trip, I did what any photographer of my generation would do: I threw in a couple of kilos of San Francisco sand. The reason is obvious. Better photographers than me have already made every possible tajine image, and camels are notoriously difficult to capture on film (even though I haven’t used film in a decade). And besides, I didn’t want to schlep huge, long telephoto lenses halfway around the word in the hope of having some dromedary luck upon my arrival.

(As a rare technical aside, one should always use at least a four-hundred-millimeter lens when shooting a camel; the insolent beasts spit great distances with unerring accuracy.)

My preparation and prudence paid off. I poured my San Francisco sand on the beach at Agadir and made a pleasing—albeit technically flawed—image of the resulting cone. (I’m thankful for Dahlia’s observation that the formation was not, as I’d erroneously claimed, a pyramid.)

I repeated the process in reverse, and, as the sun set tonight, came up with perhaps the only photograph of Moroccan sand in California. I combined the two images in a diptych, et voilà, Agadir/San Francisco Sand Exchange.

1 July 2010

Penny in a Fountain

Everyone knows that throwing a coin in a fountain is good luck. And, depending on your spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, the ritual may even allow you to have a wish granted. That concludes the setup; now it’s on to today’s story.

The St. Paul/Minneapolis region is rightly considered to be one of the few liveable American cities that’s far from a major body of water. (I can hear someone saying that the Mississippi River is indeed a major body of water, to which I reply: shut up, this is my tale.)

And so, I was surprised but nevertheless not surprised to see that some creative man had thrown a penny in a urinal at the airport here. Given that Marcel Duchamp had titled one of his readymades—a urinal—Fountain ninety-three years ago, the reference could not have been more obvious.

I’d never seen that before, and I hope no one ever does it again for reasons that have nothing to do with superstition. First, if this is really the first and last time someone put a coin in a urinal/fountain, that would be an aesthetic miracle, one so improbable as to be virtually impossible.

That brings me to a more practical and humane reason one should never put a coin—or anything other than fluids—in a urinal. Someone has to pick every object out of the urinal, and that someone is always a cleaner working for a shamefully small pittance.

I’m not throwing any coins in a fountain or Fountain for yet another reason. I’ve enjoyed good luck for over half a century, but my luck may run out some day. Should that day arrive, I don’t want to cash in any good luck chips I may have before I really need to do so.


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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