Saturday, February 28, 2009

First & Last Roosters:

I think about my dad a lot. That's something I never thought about before he died - he was such a stable presence that I'd never envisioned a world without him. As it is, he remains in my memory. His ways and stories pop up at appropriate moments, just as they did when his keen sense of timing presented them. It would not be accurate to say that he is gone. Maybe, as they say of foxes who elude the chase by entering their den, it would be appropriate to say that he's "gone to earth."

I spent a lot of time with him during the last months of his life, pretty much all of every day, and almost every night. He got up a lot in the night, disoriented, every half hour or so, so I slept on the floor by his bed to make sure he didn't fall or hurt himself wandering through the house. A couple of times when he was sleeping I drew him. I'd drawn him at times over the years, and we were close, so I knew he wouldn't mind. Here are two of those - the first one was at a point, not too long before he died, when he looked younger for some reason. The second one was maybe a week before he died. It's kind of a terrible sight, in some ways, but part of what he'd always taught me was to look at things the way they actually are, and accept reality as it is.

He was an artist himself. In my Aunt Gertrude's scrapbook she describes her younger brother as "the drawer". His first passion was farming though, so all of the existent drawings I've seen are of farm animals. This drawing of various kinds of poultry was done when he was a child.

And here's a photograph of him feeding chickens when he was a little boy. I've always loved this image & I made a drawing of it - but today is too rushed to look through all the sketchbooks and find it.

Maybe a month before his death I had an idea that he might enjoy painting. I stretched a small canvas for him and put out a selection of paints. This rooster is what he did. As you can see, the drawing was done with very accurate and minimal lines - he knew exactly how roosters should look, because he raised them and observed them every day. What surprised me is that he chose not to imitate a real roosters color, and instead chose the primary colors; red, yellow, and blue. Someone familiar with my work would think I had a hand in that, as a "Primary Rooster" would be a very predictable member of two sets of subjects I've treated many times; roosters and primary colored things. But in this case, like in so many other aspects of my life, my dad did it for me.

The word "aspect" reminds me of a story he used to tell. It seemed a backward farm boy went to court a girl in a fine family who considered themselves quite sophisticated. As they were sitting on the porch, a chicken with most of its feathers pulled out by the alpha hens, ran across the yard in front of them. "My! said the young lady, "What a terrible aspect!" Soon after another de-feathered chicken ran across the other way and the boy, hoping to demonstrate that he was paying attention, offered; "There goes another one with its ass pecked."

Tee hee, tee hee. - as my dad would say.

(Conte sketch for a rooster lino-cut, done in 1999, the year my dad died.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You'll Always Come Back:

In an earlier post I recounted the adventure of locating the site of my great great grandparent's cabin, the original Dutton homeplace in Kentucky. David and Mary bought land and made their home here in 1810. Before I started work on You'll Always Come Back, I barely knew their names, much less anything about their lives.

The first clue that started me thinking about them came from my dad's story, told to him by Pete Dutton, of "The Battle of Dutton Hill" during the Civil War, an event that Pete witnessed in person. In that story Pete said that when the Southern soldiers heard the shots of the approaching Union soldiers, they left the yard and high-tailed it up to the summit of Dutton Hill, where they constructed barricades by tearing down the rail fences (which no doubt Pete had labored to build in the first place.) Pete carried my grandfather, then two years old, and he "Granny Dutton", as my dad called his grandmother Lucy Browning Dutton, "went to David Dutton's house."

I began puzzling about where, exactly that house had been, and with the sleuthing described in that earlier post, my nephew Dave & I located what I was fairly certain was the site, but it took the contributions of 3 of my cousins to bring some certainty and clarity to that discovery.

My cousin Peggy, whom I'd never even met before starting work on this project, shared a stack of her grandmother Lucretia's letters, and many photographs. One of those was a correspondence with a distant relative in which Lucretia wrote: "I live not far from the Dutton Cemetery, where many of our ancestors are buried, near David Dutton's homeplace." That confirmed the location of the site, which I could not make out from the 1810 deed alone.

Then there was my aunt Gertrude's scrapbook, also mentioned in an earlier post, which my cousin Barbara shared with me.
Gertrude and her friend Marye went on a hike in 1931, and Gertrude illustrated the event in her scrapbook with 5 photographs. Two of those were of "the old cabin" ~ was it David and Mary's? Since their hike was on family land, it seemed likely, and once I knew the site of the cabin, I looked again to see if the landscape surrounding it matched. Much has changed in nearly 200 years, but I'm convinced now that these are images of the original Dutton home in Kentucky, where my great grandfather and first namesake, Daniel (1, as I label him) was born.

David and Mary came to Kentucky from Wythe County Virginia, from a German-speaking farm community of, as they're called "Pennsylvania Dutch". Once I started digging, some of the peculiarities of my family revealed ancient roots. My cousin Fred had visited Wythe County, and had told me that he happened to arrive on the very day that the Dutton homeplace there was being torn down, for the logs, destined to make some "historical" something-or-other for a tourist attraction on the coast.
He watched it happen with a mixture of horror and fascination - because the deconstruction revealed the original 18th century cabin within a later facade - and luckily, he was there to take pictures of it. He's hunting around in his stack for those, but in the meantime he sent me this b & w copy.

Once I have reconstructed what the size and shape of these habitations were, I'm thinking of making a little animated video in which the transparent structures reveal the birth, growth, maturity and death of the inhabitants, in sequence, one frame per year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday:

I really was not expecting a thing when I walked into the biggest surprise party of my life! My friends and family are THE GREATEST!

Friday, February 20, 2009


A friend who said he'd come by this afternoon was a no-show, but beyond that slight (though in this case, well known,) disappointment, the day was ravishing. Phyllis is here with Cebah, so for the first time in many months I had a day I could spend in my studio. There was a little long overdue work, trying out guitar sounds for the next recording session of Oft the Loner. That was soon done, and such a pleasure. I've really missed my space - the way that it engenders creativity and seems to protect and enclose every expression till its due moment.

That done I drifted upstairs, with the warmth, to loll about in my beloved nest, on the apparently cheesy but really luxuriously metaphysical fake jaguar bedspread, gazing at the brilliant cerulean sky through the skylight above the bed, and reading poetry.

Actually I started with the I Ching, but I found it impenetrable, as usual, only dry this time. So I pulled out a slim little volume of poems, sent to me ages back by Larry, but as yet uncracked, by possibly my favorite author of fiction, Sylvia Townsend Warner.
At the back was an "Afterword" by another of her admirers, Claire Harman ~

"Sylvia Townsend Warner has, as she foresaw, turned out to be a posthumous poet, but whether her books wander in or out of print is rather beside the point. No fashion can extinguish writing as fine as hers."

Well put. All sorts of literary droogs are esteemed finer in published history than Sylvia, by their peers. She, however, is peerless. Take them away from my bookshelf and keep her.

Sylvia and I communed for a several timeless hours and I read the little book at last from cover to cover. Having just sent, in a state just shy of despondency, the impossible puzzle of Cebah's Kitchen off to Cathy, like a terminal patient to a faithhealer, I picked out a poem with kitchen associations, with a message I needed to read, to share with you.

"Fie on the heart ill-swept..."

Fie on the heart ill-swept
Where sorrows over-kept
Sodden with tears and foul
Lie mouldering cheek by jowl
With mildewed revenges
Grown tasteless with time's changes,
Limp wraths and mumbled visions,
Fly-blown into derisions,
Delights jellied to slime
And tag ends of rhyme.

Life! Grant me a harder
Housewifery in my larder,
And if I may not eat
Fresh-killed meat,
Crisp joy and dewy loathing,
Let me have done with loving.
Aye, though philosophy's
Wan pulse my palate freeze
Ere I to carrion swerve
Carrion-like, let me starve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Snowy Dawn:

Sometimes I do a drawing just as a plan for a painting, like this one for a snowy dawn in the woods by the dandyland studio.
I did the drawing in the woods that morning, just as dawn was coming. What initially caught my eye was that the white snow was darker in tone than the eastern sky. I knew how to handle the colors - the drawing was to note the general look of the hill and trees.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dandyland Bursts (into bloom):

There's been a lot of leaf removal here on the hill the past few days, uncovering the emerging beauties, like this flock of snow crocus.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Morning Song:

I got a message from my friend Aubrey yesterday ~

"Last night we pretty much made the audience cry with "Morning Song." Just wanted to keep you up to date with the continuing ripple effects of your music. People just love the songs of yours that we do and comment often on yours in particular."

It's neat to know that people are listening to that song, years now after it was written. Aubrey and her husband Elwood are folk musicians - (You can check out their tour schedule on the Atwater-Donnelly site in the sidebar.) I met Aubrey in the early 90s. In a way we were brought together by Jean Ritchie's music, but it was Cari Norris, another musician friend, who introduced us. We cherish the times when we can get together and sing - in the meantime we keep in touch via email & the phone.

Aubrey sang in three of The Secret Commonwealth projects. The first one she did was The Road, and that's where she heard the Morning Song. I can't remember now if I taught her the guitar chords for it - I think I did.

The Road started with the concept of life imagined as a journey. It's one of the most common conceits for telling the story of life, and that's why I chose it for The Secret Commonwealth. My idea was that I'd take a journey, take notes, and if my theory about mythic images was correct, then I would naturally experience those myths, in some form, as I travelled. I chose a place that I had dreamed of visiting when I was a child - the desert. My plan was to take along a notebook, write down everything significant that happened, then use that material to compose the opera from. The experience turned out to be much more intense than I thought possible, but that's another story.

I can't help but wonder WHAT the audiences listening to Aubrey and Elwood imagine as they listen to the Morning Song. For me it evokes a very particular place in the desert, on a particular morning. I replay the picture of it in my thoughts, and see how it looked. I can smell the sagebrush, junipers and pinon that give the desert its wonderful scent, almost feel the wonderful grateful feeling I had for the instantaneous rush of warmth that the sun brings there when it rises, dispelling the cold of night.
It was early spring when I went on that journey, and now every spring I get an urge to return to the canyons of southern Utah, to sleep on the sand far far from roads and electricity, far from any signs of humans except the ancient cliff dwellers whose homes still perch in the nooks of high cliff walls.

The original journal was lost during the production of The Road, but I'd made a copy, with some changes, all for the worse I think, with an idea of eventually putting it into readable form. The original really was a traveler's notebook - I kept it on the seat of the car and scribbled notes as I drove. Then, once in the desert, there was a rule that every night I had to write the events of the day before going to sleep, no matter how cold it was or how exhausted I was, both usually very.

Last night it occurred to me that Aubrey might enjoy reading the passage in that journal related to the Morning Song, so I pawed through the notebook pile and managed to find the draft copy. Here's the passage, about the first morning in the desert:

"In the dark before dawn, I awaken and walk quietly out of camp. Breathing clouds in the cold air, I cross the plateau and climb the mesa. I am wearing my feather-horned clown hat. On the highest point I dance, balancing on a boulder, singing sounds, over and over. I face the East, waiting for the light to change. I sing a line out of the past. I sing my worldly possession - a cocoon spun out of story threads.

First I see the dark shape of the canyon rim emerge from the deep purple sky. The second color of light is yellow - breath becomes visible in it. The third color of light is red; the sun ball rises and the day begins.

Down by the stream, they wake up and rattle pans. Juniper smoke and the scent of sizzling grease rise in a thin blue string. Ruth Ann comes climbing toward me as I descend, across the plateau garden of yellow mustard blossoms glowing amidst the gray-green sagebrush and dun colored sand. I remember her dancing in our yard when I was a child, leaping into the air.
Her hands are weathered by the earth. She has worked, and now her laughing children emerge, with sleepy eyes, awaiting the goodness that she will provide.

All day we follow the windings of the canyon, pushing our way through willow thickets, wading and rewading the creek. At every crossing the llamas (Lightfoot, Nippet, Boomer, Murphy, Picoso, Neptune, Moosey, Sammy, Bubba, and Alfie) drop their pellets and urinate.

High on a West-facing cliff, we see a panel of pictographs - human shapes, animals - bighorn sheep and antelope, snakes, and square-enclosed webs that look like maps."

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Rose:

It's said that leaves are harder to draw or paint than flowers. That's only true if you pay less attention to them.

Skeleton Cart:

This drawing was a stage piece plan for "The Graveyard" in The Changeling & the Bear.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Evening:

Valentine's evening turned out to be everything you could hope for in a holiday devoted to expressions of affection. My student and friend Isaac came to dandyland for dinner, along with his mom, dad, & little sister. Isaac was was very elegantly dressed for the occasion; black pants with suspenders, a white shirt with red trim, black tuxedo jacket, black shoes, and something so rarely seen on young gentleman these days - a black silk top hat. Upon his arrival he presented me with a pink and red tissue-wrapped bottle of 2006 chianti and a red rose. What a sense of style! His sister Josie brought a miniature red rose bush. If my heart had any chill previously, it melted on the spot.

After dinner Isaac entertained us with a little music on the piano, with a bit of dancing thrown in to liven things up. At some point he noticed my grandmother's magnifying glass and decided to check himself out in the mirror. That's when I took this pic.

It really was a lovely evening - not at all like the massacre historically associated with St. Valentine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First Crocus in Dandyland


I think I've mentioned the Uktena, as it is known to the Cherokee, in earlier posts. It's a giant sort of snake, as big around as a tree trunk, with horns on its head, and a crystal, like a crest, on its forehead. It has spots and is horribly dangerous even to think about. The blazing crystal is called Ulunsu'ti, "Transparent", and some word sleuths believe the name Uktena (pronounced Ookteen with a little cutoff gap after the n.) means "clear sighted". Transparent, of course, has more than one usage.

There are stories, cautionary stories, about people who managed to obtain the Transparent. It's too powerful and dangerous to keep in the house, so they were kept hidden in caves, and had to be fed, regularly, with, of course, blood. The owner would thereby acquire, by proxy, some of the powers of the Uktena, along with its testy and socially problematic personality. Transparent is said to be 4 to 6 inches long, with a blood red streak in the center. Eventually the owner would die, of course, and if they didn't pass Transparent, and its feeding schedule, on to someone else, the slighted crystal would grow enraged, like a pressure cooker left on high, until it exploded and shot out of the cave ever which way, flying through the sky like red hot crystalline fireballs, setting everything it came in contact with on fire and generally destroying things until the power dissipated.

This was not like the New Age crystals.

The image of the horned rattlesnake goes back a ways in the Americas. I saw a bunch of them carved on the pyramids in the Yucatan, like the small one right beside me in this pic from Chichen Itza. This is the temple of Kulkucan, aka The Giant Horned Rattlesnake. The hole is a cenote that they live on the other side of. To the right you can see a stone platform for throwing things, such as people, off of ~ or perhaps they jumped of their own accord. In any event, skeletons were found at the bottom.
Geologists claim that the cenotes mark the boundary of an impact crater made by a nine-mile wide meteorite, the one that killed off the dinosaurs. My Cherokee teacher, Mr. Calhoun, wondered if the Uktena was one that the meteorite didn't get.

About 900 years ago folks all over the Eastern US, and in some places across the Mississippi, were wearing shell gorgets engraved with the images of horned rattlesnakes. There's no proof, as far as archaeologists are concerned, that this has anything to do with Kukulcan, or any of the other giant horned rattlesnakes in central America, nor is there any proof that the gorget rattlesnakes are related to the Cherokee's Uktena, but come on. There's been a lot of speculation as to what, if anything, the gorgets signified. The rounds of shell were cut from conch shells, and engraved, with flint tools. I made one with a diamond tipped rotary tool and I can tell you that was hard work, burned up a bunch of tips, and took all day to make one sloppy approximation - so it took some skill and effort to make one.

Because they are spread all over the place, they would seem to indicate trade, or a widespread idea. The gorgets are found by graverobbers, or archaeologists, if you prefer, in graves of both sexes, and disparate ages. Perhaps they are talismans, or signify membership in a cult or club, or were just incredibly fashionable. They are beautiful.

The thing that amazes me about them is that they display such intriguing variations on a single well-established theme. No two are alike that I've seen, though some look as though they could have been made by the same artist, and all of them share certain traits in common. Some years ago I picked a dozen favorites and made drawings of the images. If you're like me, you can have some fun comparing them. There's probably no way to ever learn what they signified to their owners, but by admiring and comparing the designs, we can know something of how their imaginations worked when it came to horned rattlesnakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dream Catcher:

Those urban among you, gentle readers, may not find this image as odd as I did in 1982. Soon I would have some experience of tough neighborhoods in Paris and Rome, then, in some ways tougher, E. St. Louis and Denver, but at the time I had this dream, I knew very little about such places.

When I realized that I was dreaming, I was standing on a dark side street. I looked at my hands, then around at the dark cityscape, in some amazement, since I'd never seen one before. A young man, a bit older than I was at the time, came quickly up to me and said - "You are not safe here." Somehow I knew that he knew I was in a lucid dream. He quickly wrapped me in a blanket, got me off the street and into a room nearby. I wasn't able to speak, or really do anything but be grateful and think about how strange it all was. I wondered if I'd ever get out of the lucid dream and back in my own world again. I had no idea how to do it. Eventually I went back into ordinary sleep and woke up.

That was early in my lucid dream experiments. Later I'd acquire more skill - it takes a long, long time. After I finished work on The Stone Man in 1990, I continued to have occasional lucid dreams, but I ceased actively pursuing them. The result was that they came less often. In the past several years there have been very few.

It would never be out of place to use the opener "Then, suddenly..." as a beginning for a lucid dream, as they always, in my experience, begin suddenly. They're called lucid dreams because of the awareness of having crossed a threshold between dreaming and being conscious of being, as we say, in a dream. It's a philosophical quandary that puts our sense of being in a peculiar kind of jeopardy. Realizations, though they may be prepared in time, come of a sudden.

Suddenly, the other night, I realized that I was dreaming. I was standing in the road about a quarter mile north of dandyland, in the dark, and I decided that since I was dreaming and the dream seemed to be stable, I would fly home. This is a perfectly viable option in dreams and I choose it every chance I get. I read somewhere that flying dreams are sublimated erotic dreams, but that seems a reductionist position to me ~ why should every fabulous sensuality default to sexuality? The usual problem, for me, with flying dreams is that the state of flux brought on by flight tends to accelerate until the forms of the dream become incoherent, or, much the same, I wake up. But this dream was different.

I flew through the darkness, past certain hazards on the way, with space and time all just as you'd expect it to be if you were flying over farmland at night. It was glorious.

When I woke up my first impression was that dreams and art are much about the correspondence and inversion of images.


This page, from a ~ hm, what was it? - comic book I made when I was in my early teens, has lingered in my imagination. Maybe it's because capturing the look of a mad person sticks with you.

The book was called "Phage" ~ I'd just added the word to my vocabulary and I was fascinated by the sound and meaning of it. Before this booklet - an early convergence of poem and images - I kept a Dream Journal, two illustrated notebooks that I loaned, unfortunately, to a friend in high school. His parents, who fancied themselves psychologists, (his father turned out to be a chiropractor, if that tells you anything...) told him he'd better terminate his association with me because I was a schizophrenic.
(He! I was thrilled at the potential glamor of exploiting that rumor, and didn't like him that much anyway... besides, he never gave my journals back. I'd rather be schizo than a thief.)

The lark of it was that by that time I was studying, as it was called in those days, "the art of the mentally ill" - looking for clues as to how the imagination works in the examples of pathological deviance. I could have corrected his parent's diagnosis. I wasn't losing contact with my environment, or losing my identity, I was taking a hand in enhancing both.

The Dream Journals were working towards a practice of lucid dreaming, and that, I think, IS dangerous territory ~ but then, what isn't? The lucid dreaming wouldn't begin in earnest until my late teens. I promised an update on that to Mary Beth, and it's on the way, just as soon as I figure out how to digest it.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Back in the 80s I thought I saw something move in the corner of the studio. When I looked back, nothing apparent was there ~ but the feeling that I had seen SOMETHING was so strong that I decided to draw it. These are what I drew. They came in through the Aunt Lou door on the eastern side, I suppose.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Evidence of things not seen:

Here's the steel quill pen, found after being missing for many years. Alas, the tip is broken. I don't remember breaking it - sigh!

So far in this drawing exhibit we've looked at images of things seen. All of the drawings were done while actually looking at the subject. Now we'll take a look at things seen only in the mind's eye. The first process informs the second.

I used to joke that I spent a year in Mississippi one month. It felt that way. As soon as I arrived there, and put my bare foot down, it was immediately attacked and stung repeatedly by fire ants. The heat and humidity were almost as ferocious. There was no relief from it. At night, when the heat abated slightly, the air was thick with ravenous mosquitos. The payoff was an opportunity to visit some really big swamps, a type of ecosystem that I am fascinated by. It was wonderful, though the company and circumstances were very strange - I don't think I should tell about that here. Let's just say that I was in disguise and leave it at that. I didn't really have a chance to spend much time alone deep in the swamps, but the atmosphere of the place made a deep impression. I do remember crouching concealed in a big clump of palmetto, looking closely at the surface of the water covered with vivid green duckweed, punctuated here and there with the firey orange blossoms fallen from trumpet vines somewhere up in the cypress tops.

It was not possible for me to draw while I was in the swamp, but once I got out I made these drawings. The character is Swamp Granny. In one drawing you can see her riding on the back of the crescent moon, itself tiptoeing over the stars, the little pointy shoes causing them to drip moisture like so many aphids exuding honeydew. The gourds she has tied to her waist are containers for lost souls who dream themselves into swamps like the one she presides over. Don't ask, don't tell.

There were several more drawings in this set. I think that William has the finest one ~ "Headless Deer with Skillets" (?) If so, maybe he'll send a jpeg.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Maps of the Omnichronic:

The heroes of my childhood were naturalist explorers. The books relating the expeditions of Gerald Durrell to capture various obscure creatures for zoos were like candy to me. But best of all, and most important of all, for the seven year old me, was anything to do with Charles Darwin's voyage of the Beagle, and what he discovered. The descriptions of the how and why of the adaptations of finch beaks on the Galapagos islands were my Rosetta stone. There is a reason that things look the way they do - the reason is that they become the way they are in response to the challenges of environment, governed by paces, possibilities, and limitations inherent in their intrinsic nature.

Structure that can be mapped, with the possibility of freedom to adapt to it, even thrive in it - that was a deal I was willing to consider. I think of my art as a commitment to taxonomy. I do not, however, trust anyone else to discern what needs mapping - who knows what part of the unknown is mine to explore. So I make my own maps.

Gradually the mapping revealed certain constants. Most of them are indeed environmental, and at the same time, very personal. Example: I live in a world of flowers. I recognize that my life, and the lives of most living things, depend on the existence of flowers. I happen to adore them, so I draw them, paint them, plant them, study them, and position them as motifs in the maps of my soul. And I recognize them as reoccurring subjects in my art.

There is, for instance, The Rose. In my garden, it's an old rose - related to those exchanged by the lovers, poets and painters of long ago, those exchanges flashing like stars in a slow-growing constellation linking the present with the past. Who could see a rose, having read Blake, without remembering "the invisible worm that flies in the night"? Every time I paint a rose, whether because it appeared in a moment of beauty for no reason at all, or was handed to me by a lover, a new star is noted on the Omnichronic map. You can find it by following the line called "roses" or by following the line called "spiral formations" - or even something like "things that blood splotches on a shirt can be mistaken for", or, of course, "stereotypical love gifts". I like to move from image to image on threads of meaningfulness ~ I know I AM related to spiders, because I recognize the usefulness of webwork. (See, or rather, hear, "Hanging by a Thread" in The Road.) Perhaps all this is interesting only to me.

But before we move away, in this little drawing exhibition, from the seen to the unseen, here are some of the maps I've drawn to help me find my way through the universe - or is it a multi-verse? - of my Omnichronic. Every time I make a new piece of art, or contemplate something that might be the subject of a new piece, I ask myself - where does this fit in the pre-existing scheme of things, and in what ways does it open a new pathway?

A diagram of power configurations on the stage for The Road.

Diagram of fire motif relations in The Secret Commwealth, branching outward from a song.

Diagram of the Fire quarter of The Approach of the Mystery.

Wheel of the seasonal and poetic motif relations in The Secret Commonwealth.

Map of motif relations in the 36 Ballads of the Barefoot Mind.

Diagram of the elemental motifs in The Approach of the Mystery.

Card labyrinth used by dancers in The Approach of the Mystery.

Diagram of cross referenced entrances and exits in The Secret Commonwealth.

Map and score for "Copper House" ~ made for Jody to use while working on the recording of "Torch". (The red verticals are the sounds of a foghorn that pace the music.)

The master map of The Omnichronic does exist, showing an axis moving up from the abyss of sleep into consciously created structures - but it's on a big piece of cloth, too large and pale to see much of in a photograph.


This was our tobacco barn. It burned, I think in the mid-80s. That was a great loss, still felt ~ Bobby talks about needing another barn for a farm this size. It was a great loss in memories too. Our salt and pepper draft work horses, Pat and Peg, had their stalls in this barn. The little shed attached to the front was our stripping room, where the tobacco leaves were stripped from the stalks on many a chilly november morning. We say that tobacco "comes in case" when there's enough moisture in the air to make the leaves pliable, so they can be pulled off without shattering. Stripping tobacco was an occasion for tale-telling and singing, so I have a lot of great memories of that little room - it's tiny pot-bellied stove with mica windows, permeated with the smell of tobacco dust - even the old salvaged windows with bubbles in the glass. You notice things like that when you sit for hours, mesmerized by wondrous stories.

I did a batch of ink drawings of barns at the time this one was done - January of 1981. The marks in the sky above the barn indicate a flock of redwing blackbirds.

The night it burned I was visiting a friend near Berea. I couldn't sleep and walked around all night in her yard, looking west toward home, thinking that something was wrong. Alas, as I found out when I got back the next morning, it was the tobacco barn. This drawing, a single photograph, and the memories are all that remain of it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Eggplant, Squash, and Dill:

This drawing was done with pastel. My friend Nana picked the basket of eggplant, squash and dill.