Monday, September 24, 2012

Cats A-Z: B (Blackberry)

Image is 4" x 3.75"


What a relief to come out from under that pickup truck. She is so tired of gravel and debris. The life of a stray is hard. She is pregnant, and wanting more for her kittens. Her legs might be stumpy, but those short legs are the key to future glory. Her descendants won't scavenge for leftovers or hide from dogs. They will be prim and pampered, eat well, and win prizes.

Blackberry was the grandmother of all Munchkin cats. In 1983 an American music teacher discovered two pregnant cats with unusually short legs under a pickup truck. The one she named Blackberry gave birth to a kitten named Toulouse, and it is from their line that all registered Munchkins descend. Munchkins are a new breed of cat to be officially recognized by The International Cat Association. So new, in fact, that there are ongoing debates over whether it is ethical or not to breed these cats, distinguished by their extremely short legs. Some fear that Munchkins will suffer back, hip, and leg health problems, and thus these critics discourage the propagation of the breed. Others argue that there is no evidence that Munchkins' short legs cause health problems. They also point out that stray Munchkins flourish alongside more typical cats and that the autosomal dominant gene that causes Munchkins' short legs has repeatedly appeared in genetic mutations in several separate lineages.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Nordischer Hafen" by Siegfried Berndt

I'm just enthralled by the color. The swaths of two-tone blues, interrupted by inky black islands. Black boats, black dock with red lines cut away, bright as neon signs. A rhythmic conga line of black and red houses riding on the back of a limey green roll of the landscape. And trees that stand then dip and dance, ready to melt into the folds of land. Ready to be escorted home after a long night of swaying, stepping, and pulsating to songs that will never need words because they already speak so well to our feet and hands and hearts. I am ready to go dancing now. I am ready to shake my booty to a beat that drowns out all voices.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cats A-Z: A (All Ball)

Image is 3.5" x 4"

This is page one of an alphabet book of cats I'm writing and illustrating. Each page will feature a cat whose name starts with a letter of the alphabet. Haven't decided if the final book will be in color or keep it in black and white. I'm planning to play around with watercolors on my proofs of this print tomorrow.

All Ball 

Being adopted, he looks nothing like his mother. But when she holds him, he feels comforted by her fur and the heat of her body against his. He can tell from her long gazes and gentle caresses that she loves him. Even when a baby is chosen from a litter, a mother knows which one is hers.

All Ball was the name of Koko the gorilla's first pet kitten. Koko (a gorilla in captivity who was taught more than 1000 words in sign language) chose this pet out of an abandoned litter and named him "All Ball" because the kitten was a Manx and therefore had no tail. There are many films and a book documenting Koko playing joyfully with All Ball. Sadly, All Ball was killed in an accident just a few months after being adopted by Koko. After hearing the news, Koko is reported to have signed words expressing her grief and cried in private. It is a moving story that some researchers present as evidence of the profound emotional similarities between humans and other great apes.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Martha Briana's Violins

Martha Briana is currently working on a series of small violin prints. These three works are titled The Fiddle Circle, Fiddle Totem, and Musical Play. I sat and stared at these images a long time, following the beautifully varied and lyrical lines, weighty forms, and textured spaces that lead me in and out of a mysterious world full of precarious structures and hints of animism. Having too many divergent things to say about each of them, I finally just edited my responses down to three haiku. These and other works by Martha Briana can be viewed and purchased on her Etsy store.

Rigid puzzle pieces
That don't fit together are
Poised to explode

Perilous tower
Like painstakingly stacked stones
Carefully balanced  

The white space reminds me of
John Cage, oceans, and
The nothing that is

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Adam and Eve" by Leonard Beaumont

The man's blue eye peers out from the dark, while the woman's red lashes advance with confident stride. This place is an ancient, Martian paradise. A time when the red planet shimmered wet and blue, and naked aliens waded through thick and stylish foliage.

Romance abounds in these vintage postcards, these myths that sharpen our vision, yet cloud our good sense.

As these two move toward me I long to open my arms, give them both a good, firm embrace. But they will break apart and rejoin the abstract lines, shapes, and rhythms of the background before I even get close.

There will be no evidence left behind from these visitors. Nothing except the persistent memory of their having come and the nondescript yet powerful sense that without them life is no longer worth living. They are blood-sucking predators disguised as peace-seekers. Flat, empty, vessels parading as beauty, truth, and hope.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Prisonier" by Norbertine von Bresslern Roth

Why were you just standing there, silent, for so long? I knew you were there, loitering beside the trashcan. I've longed to knock over that trashcan, examine its contents, day after wretched day. Handle a half-eaten pretzel, sniff a soggy, empty soda cup, just for a change of pace. Just for the sake of something new. It's not that anything inside this cage is bad. But, oh, the tedium!

I noticed you there, but I dared not stare back at you. I know what annoyance it is to be stared at, and didn't want to frighten you away. You stood so long, I thought you might be aiming at something. Perhaps, after all the gawkers had gone, you might do something interesting. But you just hung around for such an achingly long space of time, and then slipped away, passing into the crowd, nameless, like all the rest.

Day after day these faces, these figures, bleed into each other and become like wallpaper in the most abhorrent of rooms. Curse this insane asylum. I no longer know my own voice, or preferences, or temperament, for all that is unique is lost in this sea of identically miserable days.