As the song says “another opening of another show.” I have three works (Poppies of Remembrance, Left Coast Style, and Memento Ursi) in the show Urge to Fall at Alice’s Arbor opening on July 10th. For more about this show here’s what the curator has to say:
Falling, the primary experience of gravity, is the first human experience of a natural force, the compulsion of the body to plunge toward the earth which can be immediately felt and scientifically described, but perhaps never understood. Falling remains with us as a metaphor for those compulsions – sublime, deadly, or inexplicable – which drive us to voyeurism, combat, lust, depression – all the territories in which vital impulse seems to come from outside the self, to call out from impossible distances. Across mediums spanning painting, illustration, print, photography, and collage, these concerns flicker through the practices of the ten artists represented in “Urge to Fall,” touching on balance and its loss, the void, and the desire to give in to vertigo.
Here’s a link to the Facebook page for the show.
And just in case you want to check out the work of the other Shoestring Press artists in the show here’s a list:
It’s an odd question as it seems to suppose that the generation that protested the war in Vietnam would naturally be the more patriotic while being, supposedly the least patriotic that history had seen to that point. I also found it odd as the question of the patriotism of the Xers was not called in to question.
I am, perhaps in a unique position to posit an opinion on the patriotism of generations post-World War II. In some ways I stand with one foot planted in the territory of the Boomers, somewhere to the East of No Man’s Land, as my parents were of the Greatest Generation, and my siblings are Boomers. However, if one foot is in the East, my other foot stands firmly in the Western land of Gen X as I was born in 1968. I therefore have a Boomer upbringing while all of my cultural touchstones are X.
Just as my brother and sister were brought up with a sense of civic duty I too was brought up with an understanding of my responsibility to be a good citizen: which, at a bare minimum, includes voting, paying taxes, and participating in the judicial system. But the lessons learned from the protests of ’68, the lessons learned by the generation called X, were of mistrust and self reliance. My parents taught me that working within the system would bring greater success to the nation and its citizenry. But my cultural landscape was one shaped by the generation to follow my parents, and that was and is a landscape in which doing what one must to get ahead is virtue enough. It is unimportant if you step on your comrades to do it: the ends will justify the means. No one’s actually going to help you do anything, everyone’s just in it for themselves, and there’s really no such thing as community or your “fellow” man at all, only competitors and pawns.
So what sort of patriotism do the Millennials have to piece together? We live in a country in which national holidays are the days on which one goes to the mall, or, if it is a day like Independence Day, one will go to a fireworks display in which the rockets red glare will spell out MACYS. A Sousa march means nothing, but a satiric song such as America Fuck Yeah holds a certain sort of sentiment that the younger generations ironically get behind.
There is another sort of patriotism that can be found in the youth of America. It may not look like patriotism to my parents, or even to my siblings, but it is, as am I, a hybrid of the Boomers and the Xers. It is a patriotism that takes the best of what my parents (the Greatest Generation) instilled in me, a pride in the work that we can achieve together and the responsibility to that work, but that distrusts pre-packaged or over-zealous patriotism, preferring instead a DIY sensibility born of Generation X that builds small communities within the larger communities: groups of people who are making things and supporting themselves by supporting others; treasuring cultural values as well as individual values. It can be seen all over the country wherever people are building community gardens or creating places of beauty to be shared. It can be found in a small business ethos that, despite a smaller profit margin, encourages local, hand-made and sustainable goods… and insists that part of honoring national holidays means that businesses stay closed.
I have, indeed, been thinking about the Great War of late. Even on Memorial Day as I was listening to songs of the American Civil War, I was printing poppies that were more appropriate to the War to End All Wars. I’m sure that as we approach 2018 I’ll be consumed with many aspects of just how World War One truly changed the world, and brought about almost every major event or movement of the 20th Century.
Today, as I contemplated the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; today, as I mentioned just what happened this day in history to people with blank stares on their faces, today, as I sold luxury shirts to people who refuse to give their name or contact information yet only pay with credit cards; I reminded my self that I live in a country at war, and I was ashamed.
On Memorial Day (as it is celebrated) I pined a poppy to my chest and set out to Brooklyn to work on my project Poppies of Remembrance. Once there, I printed poppies and posted them in the shop window of Shoestring Press. People came by and assisted in the project, discussed Memorial Day, and learned a bit about the poppy as a flower of remembrance.
However, on my way out to Brooklyn I stopped by my local cafe for a bite of breakfast. There was a middle aged man outside the cafe and he noticed the poppy I was wearing. This man remembered veterans selling poppies when he was young. He remembered wearing a poppy on Memorial Day, Armistice’s Day, or even D Day (today). He remembered the men, like the anonymous man on West 86th Street in Manhattan who was out selling Poppies in the days before Memorial Day, or Jack Lombardi who sells poppies outside a bank in the Whitestone Shopping Center.
Outside the cafe my conversation turned from remembering to lamentation as my neighbor said “The old guys just aren’t arround any more.” What does that have to do with anything! There is a steady stream of men and women coming back from War! We live in a country in wartime! He consolled himself with the knowlidge that the local Roman Church had a memorial service that day. ( I didn’t realize that national holidays were on the liturgical calendar.)
The New York Times printed a fluff piece (He Still Serves) under the heading of “Charicter Study” as if selling poppies was a quaint throwback. Of course, no one reads beyond the first or second paragraph, but the real meat of the article was in the wrap up:
“Outside the bank, he proffered a poppy to a strapping young man in workout gear, heading toward the nearby gym and staring at his cellphone.
“No, I’m good,” the man said, waving it off.
Mr. Lombardi shrugged and said, “A lot of young people don’t know what it’s all about — they couldn’t care less.””
Clearly that man was not good. Had he been doing good he’d have stopped and bought a poppy. He’d have stopped and taken the time away from his own important life and remembered one who did good, and died, as so many died, on this date in 1944.
And God spake vnto Noah, and to his sonnes with him, saying; And I, behold, I establish my couenant with you, and with your seede after you: And with euery liuing creature that is with you, of the fowle, of the cattell, and of euery beast of the earth with you, from all that goe out of the Arke, to euery beast of the earth. And I wil establish my couenant with you, neither shal all flesh be cut off any more, by the waters of a flood, neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the Couenant which I make betweene mee and you, and euery liuing creature that is with you, for perpetuall generations. I doe set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a couenant, betweene me and the earth. And it shall come to passe, when I bring a cloud ouer the earth, that the bow shall be seene in the cloud. And I will remember my couenant, which is betweene mee and you, and euery liuing creature of all flesh: and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shalbe in the cloud; and I will looke vpon it, that I may remember the euerlasting couenant betweene God and euery liuing creature, of all flesh that is vpon the earth. And God said vnto Noah, This is the token of the couenant, which I haue established betweene mee and all flesh, that is vpon the earth.
I admit that I have a sympathetic ear to the environmentalists. in fact, I may be called an environmentalist, by some. I would call myself a conservative Christian, and I believe that God keeps his promises. I also admit that I am baffled by other Christians who claim to be conservative when they claim that hurricanes in the American south, or floods in Brittan are a sign of God’s righteous judgment on our sinful nature or due to gay marriage. Didn’t God promise “no more water but fire next time,” or some thing to that effect?
It confuses me when a person who claims to be conservative is against those who are conservationists. Do not the words conservative and conservation have the same root? Are we not called to be stewards of God’s earth? Are there not Rogation Days on the Christian calendar? It is as ridiculous to claim that global climate change is the result of gay marriage or drunkenness and lascivious behavior as it is to say that global warming is an invention of scientists that find only what they are looking for and that Earth Day is another brick in the stone wall of the liberal agenda and opposed to conservative Christianity. The creation story of Genesis it says: “And the LORD God tooke the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dresse it, and to keepe it.” In the Psalms, we read, “What is man, that thou art mindfull of him? and the sonne of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower then the Angels; and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to haue dominion ouer the workes of thy hands; thou hast put all things vnder his feete. All sheepe and oxen, yea and the beasts of the field. The foule of the aire, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoeuer passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” This keeping of the earth, this dominion over God’s creation, is not permission to waste, exploit or pollute it. It does not mean that we should fish all of the edible life from the sea.
It does not matter that the earth has cooled and heated. It does not matter that species have gone extinct whether by God’s design or through human intervention. What matters in these Rogation Days is that we commit ourselves to conserving what God has given us. It is not a question of “can we drill for oil; should we build a pipeline; is fracking a good idea?” but rather “what will conserve God’s creation; are we being good stewards?” It is a question of: Are you conservative, and just what will you conserve for your children?
Now enjoy some Paul Robeson: