Category Archives: Popular Posts 2016

Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic is a performance artist from Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Like many artists, she deals with pain through art. Marina never felt loved enough. Her mother beat her; she never kissed her. Her parents fought. In spite of this, Marina wants to lift the human spirit through art.

The best advice a professor gave her: “A good artist creates one good work in her lifetime. A great artist creates two good works.”

Marina’s advice to artists:Image result for Marina Abramovic

“If you draw with your right hand, keep drawing until you can draw with your eyes closed. Then stop and draw with your left hand. Don’t ever get too comfortable.”

When Mariana taught art, she told her students to take a hundred sheets of paper. Over the course of the semester, she made the students write down all their good ideas and put them in a stack. The bad ideas were thrown into a wastebasket. At the end of the semester, she said it was the bad ideas that were the best ideas. In other words, go where you’re afraid to go. Try new things. Failure is a teacher.

Artist William Kentridge would agree with her. He said sometimes the best ideas are really bad.

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William Kentridge

Image result for William KentridgeWilliam Kentridge is a brilliant artist from South Africa. His background is drawing, theater and film. He does a cross-medium between different genres. He doesn’t work with a script or a storyboard. Oddly enough, he had no work experience by age 30, so his friends said no one would hire him. Then Kentridge concluded that he was an artist.

Kentridge uses art to make sense of the world, particularly through animated films. Like Enrique Martinez Celaya and Marina Abramovic, Kentridge believes in the power of failure. He said you can be rescued by one’s failures, and sometimes the best ideas are really bad.

Profound Statement One

Kentridge says there’s desperation in all certainty. People will come in with armies to prove their certainty. Uncertainty is okay, whether political or religious. You can see the world as a series of facts and photographs, or you can see the world as unfolding.

Historically, Kentridge is right. If you disagreed with the Inquisition, the leaders of the French Revolution, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao, you were either killed or sent to prison. Sometimes your friends and family were also killed. Today in America, if you express a different opinion, the Media comes after you, or you’re crucified through social media. But to be open-minded, to see the world as unfolding is exciting.

Profound Statement Two

Kentridge said every artist uses other people’s pain as well as their own. There’s an appropriation in other people’s distress in being a writer or an artist.

He’s absolutely right! Thank goodness art helps us make sense of the world. Not to mention, art is a healing tool.

William Kentridge is not only an artist, but a philosopher.

 

 

 

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Keith Haring

Image result for keith haringSince my daughter is getting her MFA, I’ve learned a lot about art over the years. Of course, we always loved modern and contemporary art, so I’ll do a series of posts on contemporary art, beginning with one of my favorite artists, Keith Haring.

Haring is a graffiti artist from the 1980s. When you’re an artist, art naturally comes out of you. Haring couldn’t stop drawing. He drew his figures on everything that didn’t move, including the New York subway, something he got arrested for. Still, Haring kept drawing. His figures are playful. They make people smile.

Haring attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Walt Disney and Andy Warhol greatly influenced him. Haring said images can function like words and drawings can become a vocabulary. Most importantly, art must be fun. After all, if it’s not fun, why do it?

Image result for keith haringWarhol taught Haring to be humble and generous and to love life. He said go against anything that hurts people.

Unfortunately, Haring died in 1990 of AIDS at the tender age of 32, but his work lives on.

What a talented young man!

 

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Legalized Marijuana

An article entitled “Going to Pot” in the June 2016 edition of Family Circle stated that legalized marijuana is basically harmless. Author Scott Alexander leaves no question that he is pro-pot, stating that marijuana is legal in the most liberal states in America.

Alexander writes, “In the first year after legalization, overall property crime in Denver dropped by 8.9% and state traffic fatalities went down by 3% (continuing a decade-long downward trend).”

Uh-huh. How stupid does he think we are?

In high school my sister started with marijuana and went on to experiment with other drugs. As a result, she suffered partial memory loss. Surely everyone knows of a family devastated by drugs or alcohol. Later, as my sister reformed, she became a drug-and-alcohol counselor for a non-profit that serves Cook County Jail in Chicago, trying to help inmates escape drugs and alcohol.

Years ago, a prison evangelist told me that many crimes are committed for drugs or while a person is on drugs. The jails in Illinois are so crowded, politicians can’t house all the inmates. They want “low-level” drug offenders out on the streets to house the more “violent” offenders. Problem: a lot of those violent offenders are on drugs.

Social Ramifications

Where is all this leading?

My physician said the social ramifications for legalized drugs is already impacting our society. To be sure, he’s all for medical marijuana. It helps patients with severe pain who can’t eat. Unfortunately, drug companies can’t manufacture a pill that has the same painkilling effects as smoking marijuana.

The downside of this? My physician and my sister both agree: Many people self-medicate with marijuana and other drugs when they should be on antidepressants or in therapy. This creates a psychological dependency. In other words, the root of the problem is never dealt with.

We can only wait and see where all this leads. Only time will tell.

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1968 Democratic Convention – History Repeats Itself

Though a kid, I lived in Chicago during the riots of the 1968 Democratic Convention. All I remember was terrible riots on black-and-white television. The riots have ominous parallels to today.Image result for 1968 Democratic Election

The 1968 Democratic Convention was held at the International Amphitheater in Chicago during August
26-29. Ten thousand protesters demonstrated at the Convention, the Chicago Hilton and Grant Park. During that year, riots occurred in more than 100 cities following the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. However, many protesters were anti-Vietnam War. Americans were split over the war. Many young people wanted to know why America was fighting. The same questions are asked today with American intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thirty-six newsmen were arrested at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were assaulted by Chicago police. Security guards roughed up Dan Rather in the convention hall as he tried to approach a Georgia delegate. Does this remind you of Donald Trump and Michelle Fields?

Twenty-two thousand men in uniform were sent to maintain order. This consisted of Chicago police and the National Guard. Unfortunately, the violence escalated throughout the week. One hundred and seventy-eight people were arrested, eleven hundred people were injured, and 400 were treated for mace and teargas.

History is stranger still. Hubert Humphrey had 561 delegates, Kennedy had 393 delegates and McCarthy had 258 delegates. McCarthy was anti-war while Vice President Humphrey was pro-war. The Democratic Party nominated Humphrey, even though 80% of primary voters were anti-war. Also, Humphrey didn’t enter 13 state primary elections, and yet he won the nomination.

Does this sound familiar?…Ted Cruz and John Kasich have stayed in the race for the Republican nomination hoping that history will repeat itself. In 1968, people were shocked when Humphrey got the nomination. If Donald Trump is shy 10 delegates of the nomination, I predict rioting will follow. In fact, rioting has already occurred at Trump rallies.

In 1968, anti-war demonstrators pelted Chicago police in Grant Park with food, rocks and pieces of concrete. Protesters shouted: “Hell no. We won’t go!” and “Pigs are whores!” Does this remind you of Black Lives Matter with their chants of “What do we want?…Dead cops? When do we want them?…Now!”

In 1968, there was division in the Democratic Party. In 2016, there is division in the Republican Party. What happened in ‘68?…Richard Nixon won the Presidency. The rest is history.

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Incest and Polygamy in Ancient to Modern Times

People in the West frown upon incest and polygamy, but this was common and acceptable behavior in ancient times. In fact, most polygamous cultures also practiced incest.

Abraham in the Bible, known as the Father of Faith, married his sister. This is disgusting to us, but in his day, it was considered normal. John the Baptist was beheaded for condemning Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, something Henry VIII would use to get out of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In ancient times, it was normal for brothers and sisters to marry, aunt and nephews to marry, and uncles and nieces to marry. The Pharaohs married their sisters because only “gods” could marry “goddesses.” Reuben was chastised by Jacob for sleeping with one of his wives, but affairs in large polygamous families are common, as testified to by modern-day fundamentalist Mormons.

The Jews shocked the world with their laws against incest and polygamy. When Moses preached against this, he must have been mocked because he came from an incestuous union: an aunt had married her nephew.

Later, Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, brought polygamy back into fashion. He not only married single women, but he wed married women to “seal” them for eternity. After Smith was murdered, the Mormon Church split between the polygamists and the non-polygamists, but fundamentalists Mormons still practice polygamy.

Navoo, Illinois, a Mormon settlement

Navoo, Illinois, a Mormon settlement

Now gay marriage is making its way to the United States Supreme Court. As a result, I believe polygamists will also want their “rights” because marriage is being redefined in Western culture. I also believe child predators will want their “rights” too.

You don’t believe me?

When my friend took an international law class, a European woman in her class stated, “What’s wrong with a relationship between a child and an adult as long as it’s consensual?”

This sick logic seemed perfectly normal to her. To show you how far Western beliefs are being challenged, a talk radio show reported that British scientists have concluded that it’s “normal for a man to desire his daughter or to desire a young girl.” To this, a convicted child predator sighed with relief, believing himself to be “normal.”

Do you see where this is heading? Are we trying to justify sick behavior?

Finally, some Muslim men have up to four wives. Years ago a Greek construction worker told me his country was going to pot because “Muslim men have so many children, their children are destroying  the neighborhood.” (Those were his words, not mine.) He said the American Media doesn’t report this because it’s politically incorrect.

Is the Western world changing?

Yes. It’s reverting back to paganism.

 

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The Old Slave House

Years ago when I was at the hairdresser’s, I read a magazine article about an old slave house in southern Illinois. The house, called Hickory Hill, is supposedly haunted. The article described the house and the purpose of the house. It also said nobody would spend the night in the third floor attic because of the paranormal activity.

Interior of a slave cabin

Interior of a slave cabin

Years later I met a man who said the Old Slave House was fascinating; that I should definitely visit there. The last owner’s wife disliked the house and never felt comfortable living there.

With good reason, there are slave shackles, a whipping post, and other remnants of slavery. Unfortunately, the house is closed to visitors because the state of Illinois owns it, and the state is in financial ruins. My best friend, who is black, scoffed, “Illinois is in a financial mess, and they go buy something like that.” However, the fact remains, the Old Slave House is part of Illinois history, and the people who suffered there should be remembered.

John Crenshaw owned Hickory Hill and used his slaves to mine salt on his property. Instead of housing the slaves in cabins, he incarcerated them on the third floor of his mansion, which resembles a jail. Not only did Crenshaw use his slaves to mine salt, but he impregnated the females with a stud slave so they would be worth more money. When I visited the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana, this was common practice. The mistress of the plantation ordered impregnated female slaves. To make matters worse, Crenshaw also kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery.

There is justice to this story, however. When a slave saw Crenshaw beating another slave, he took an ax and struck Crenshaw’s leg.

Since the Old Slave House is closed to the public, you can still view it on YouTube. A young man filmed the inside as well as the grounds. It’s a bit preachy, but it’s worth viewing if you’re interested in American slavery and Illinois history.

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