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I spent some time yesterday at an event that I would have never thought of going to before I started exploring our family lines a number of years back. This was the dedication at the Colonel Lindsley Burying Grounds in Lindley, NY by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) of a plaque honoring the service of an ancestor, Samuel Lindsley. I believe he is my 6th or 7th great-uncle.

Kitty Pierce Speaking at DAR Plaque Dedication

Samuel was a young soldier in the Revolution fighting for his local militia out of New Jersey. After the war a number of his family members headed into the new western frontier and settled on a very large tract in a fertile valley containing the Tioga River in what now is currently the towns of Lindley and Presho. His father was a man I have mentioned here before, Col. Eleazer Lindsley. A bit on that later.

I had no idea to expect when they invited me to attend this event as one of the Lindsley descendants. I thought it would be a group of 10 or 12 folks and there would be a few words then we would all take a look at the plaque, shoot a couple of photos and chat a bit. Done. But coming on the scene I saw signs for parking and men in Revolutionary era garb climbing out of their cars.

It turned out it was a real event.

A History of the Flags of the Revolution

There were about 60 attendees, including members of the DAR, local historians and several direct descendants of Samuel Lindsley who came from as far away as San Antonio, Texas and Columbia, South Carolina. There were also members of the Sons of the American Revolution in full period garb. One brought a part of his collection of Revolutionary era flags and gave us a lesson on the history an meaning of each. They then proceeded to raise their muskets and give a resounding salute to honor Samuel. There were several speakers including Kitty Pierce, the Lindley town historian who is a walking encyclopedia of the genealogy and history of that town.

Another speaker was Phil Cirulli, who is a direct descendant of Samuel and whose research and persistence was responsible for the event. Phil, who now resides in South Carolina, told abut his journey in getting Samuel this recognition, about the long process involved in attaining documents and certification. Our paths have crossed a number of times while doing our respective genealogy so it was great to meet and talk with Phil along with a number of other newly discovered distant relations.

I wouldn’t have been at this event if it weren’t for a painting I did a couple years back. It was from my Icons series which were my imagined images of how I thought some of my ancestors might look. There was no research or source material. Pure imagination. One was of Eleazer Lindsley, the patriarch of the Lindsley family that came to this area around 1790. The blogpost about Eleazer, a most interesting character, came to the attention of historian Kitty Pierce and soon spread to Phil and other members of the family.

I was surprised how many people mentioned the painting. But even more surprising was that upon meeting Phil, I saw a striking similarity between Phil and my imagined image of Eleazer. Similar bald head, similar nose and chin. Even the ear looked familiar. Here’s a photo  so that you can make your own determination.

Phil Cirulli and his Ancestor, Eleazer Lindsley

All in all, a most interesting event and one that further confirmed my ties to this area and this land. It was pleasure to meet these folks and send them good wishes from their newly found distant cousin.

For this Sunday music, I have fittingly chose  the song Ode to My Family from The Cranberries. Have yourself a good Sunday.

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I am running around this morning with a list of things to do. But I thought I’d share an old song that popped into my head as I was walking on the path through the woods that leads to my studio this morning. It’s kind of goofy but periodically this song shows up, buzzing its way through my head.

The song is The Laughing Song and it comes from Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. from back in the early 1970’s. The music of Hicks, who died back in 2016, is hard to categorize. It has bits of swing, country, jazz, pop and plenty of whimsy. He and his Hot Licks made a number of entertaining television appearances back in the time of the old variety shows that were a staple of TV before the advent of reality shows.

I can’t say that this song made me laugh but it always made me smile. Give a listen and have a good day.

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Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.

Dorothea Tanning
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Doing research for this blog, I run into so many artists that work well into their nineties and beyond that I begin to get hopeful for my own longevity. I try to see if there is some sort of common denominator among them, something that might be a key to their long careers and lives.
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There seems to be among many, at least to my eye, a constant striving for growth and change in their work. There are often new subjects, new styles, new mediums and new processes. But a constant state of wonder.
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Dorothea Tanning is one such example. Born in 1910, she worked until late in her life and died at the age of 102 in 2012. Her work changed throughout her career, having multiple phases, but always remained her own. I am only showing a few of her pieces here, a few that immediately grabbed me this morning, along with a short video with a bit of an overview. Like many artists I show here, I don’t know a lot about her work but hope to use this as an introduction.
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Hopefully, in forty years or so, I will still be following Ms. Tanning’s example. But most likely only if I try continue to attempt to grow. Because as Dorothea Tanning also said: It’s hard to be always the same person.

Tanning, Dorothea

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You can’t force inspiration. It’s like trying to catch a butterfly with a hoop but no net. If you keep your mind open and receptive, though, one day a butterfly will land on your finger.

–Chuck Jones
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I came across the quote above from the great animator/artist Chuck Jones and it made me think of a blog post I wrote back in 2009, citing him as an influence. Nine years later, I still feel that way as strongly as ever. I still see hints of his landscapes in my own. His strong visuals, along with those of the early Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons, really imprinted on me. I thought it deserved a second run. Actually, I just wanted to show Marvin the Martian again.
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Marvin the Martian and Daffy
I have cited artists here who have been influences on my work, people who are often giants in the world of art and sometimes lesser known but equally talented artists. But sometimes you overlook the obvious, those ones who have always been right in front of you.

What's Opera DocLast night [from 2009], TCM honored the great cartoonist Chuck Jones by showing a documentary and some of his landmark cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. He also did the Roadrunner/ Wile E. Coyote cartoons as well as the seminal holiday favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His work was and is a vivid part of an incredible number of people’s childhoods. His What’s Opera Doc? with Bugs and Elmer in a Wagnerian setting with a tragic ending is classic and might be the only exposure to higher culture that many viewers may get.chuck_jones-opera-set

For me, I was always so drawn to the color quality that Jones had in his cartoons as well as the way he interpreted the landscape with a form of artistic shorthand that cut out extraneous detail yet never took away from the feeling of place, unlike some of the lower quality cartoons from Hanna-Barbera in the early 60’s. Don’t get me wrong. I loved those cartoons as well but even as a kid I was really distracted by the poor quality of the landscapes that scrolled continuously behind their characters. With Chuck Jones, it always felt fresh and real, as though there was thought given to every detail in every frame. Who else could put imagery like the above scene from What’s Opera Doc? before the eyes of impressionable children? Probably only the artists from Disney can match Jones’ work at Warner Brothers, but that’s another post.

His work also treated you, as a kid, like you had intelligence. They were smart, clever and nuanced. They never talked down to you.

For a kid this was potent stuff. Scratch that- it’s just potent stuff. Period.

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Okay, the details are coming together for the 1 PM Gallery Talk I am giving on Saturday at the West End Gallery. Here’s what I have so far.

There will be:

  • Margarita Fountain and Omelet bar.
  • Psychic Readings.
  • Bagpipers.
  • Guest Appearance from Jimmy Osmond.
  • The June Taylor Dancers. Or the Golddiggers from the Dean Martin Show. We are still in negotiations with both.
  • Rap Battles.
  • Ziplines.
  • Fireworks Display.
  • A Fly-Over by the Thundercats. Couldn’t get the Thunderbirds but I have been assured these guys are nearly as good.
  • Acrobats. Kind of a Cirque du Soleil vibe but without all the apparatus. Or movement or music.

Okay, maybe I let my imagination get away from me. Actually, it will just be a middle-aged guy talking about art. I might hold a sparkler but that is as close to spectacle as it will get. But there is a free drawing for one (or more) of my paintings. And there are, of course, more prizes and some light refreshments. And lively conversation which makes for a good time.

Here’s my promise: It won’t be the worst hour you ever spent.

Hope you can make it.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Absolutely none of the items listed in red above will be on hand this Saturday at the West End Gallery unless Jimmy Osmond or the Golddiggers somehow find their way into the gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Climbed onto the interwebs this morning and made my way to the YouTube. Needed to find something to play for this Sunday morning and wasn’t sure where to turn. Something deep and ponderous? Retro blast from the past? Cool jazz cats?

I didn’t know what would turn up or where I’d find myself.

Oddly, this morning I didn’t have to go far. It was waiting for me on my YouTube homepage.

It was new, just released in mid-July. It was light. It was seasonal. It had a goofy video. It seemed like a nice respite from watching the news and wringing hands.

Well, alright, let’s go with it. It’s a little ditty called Blueberry Jam from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, aka Will Oldham. He’s been a unique voice on the American music scene for a number of years and I’ve featured his music here a couple of times, once with him performing his I Am Goodbye and another with the epic cover of his song I See a Darkness from Johnny Cash.

Give a listen and grab a blueberry for yourself this morning.

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“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.”

― Werner HeisenbergAcross the Frontiers

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I stumbled across this photo the other day and I have come back several times to look at it. It’s the image of a mosquito’s foot at 800x magnification and there’s a strange organic beauty and weird delicacy to it that draws me in.

The complexity of the individual elements in its design is fascinating. The reddish grabby claws have a certain elegance but I can only think that if a mosquito were the size of a housecat they could latch on to you with those claws and you would never be able to merely swat them off.

Thankfully, I have yet to come across such a mosquito.

I can only think that if something so common as a mosquito can seem so alien, even if beautiful, imagine how strange the truly alien might be. As the physicist Heisenberg points out, are we even capable of imagining such strangeness?

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