Western Sky

5 x 3 Feet : Acrylics on Canvas : $3000

Longing for another visit to the Southwestern parts of North America. COVID-19 makes that difficult. I pulled my longing out and poured it into this piece. For now I remain in the Mid-Atlantic area, but I will not stay there forever. Western Sky is one of my Favorite American Music Club songs. Hence the title.

My desire for travel is immense, both domestically and internationally, even though I am passport free. I had one at the end of the 90’s but it expired, and truthfully I never felt like I could afford to travel anywhere so ‘why does it matter?’ But then, later, when good opportunities for travel appeared at my job… I couldn’t go because I didn’t have a passport.

This is the cycle of poverty in a nutshell. Even now, after waking up so late in life, the habits of living in survival mode are hard to shake. Poverty is trauma. I can tell you that right now after having been there for a long time. It changes your DNA, your outlook, and your dreams become truncated down to the “expensive” shoes at Walmart that last or the cheapest ones that will not. You make due. You make compromises. Your soul contracts. Your thoughts get smaller. You hide and suspect that your fellow man – your brothers and sisters – are stealing from you. Maybe they are because of the same dynamics. Poverty breaks families. Good people crumble under the strain. There’s your Emergency 911 call. Every day is 9/11 in some communities. Every Day. Think about that.

We have to do better. We have truncated our own development as social creatures by diving into the idea that we are all rugged individualists. I think COVID has shown us many things, but one in particular is that we need each other.

I am an introvert by nature. COVID conditions, for me, have not changed that much of my life. I like being alone, or did… What I find now is when I open a ZOOM meeting and see my coworkers – I want to talk to each and every one of them. I miss us.

I wonder how many others feel the same. Is it really red and blue or is it that we have a social vs isolation preference issue? Country vs City? Perhaps.

Perhaps it is simply the ranking system? If we look at our fellow man as fellow artists, each of us are creating the best work for ourselves based on our experience and resources available to us in that moment. Is there a better or worse then? Is it just a collection of preferences we can maintain based on our income and work choice? Is it money? Maybe.

Money divides everything up into quantities / facts / figures / a date for exploiting moments. Making things efficient. I am attracted to efficiency. That being said it does seem unfair on its face. I have zero retirement savings. My mental health at times during my tour through poverty as a care-giver and artist have changed me like a piece of glass in the surf. Worn smooth by harsh frictions. It cost me in terms of pain and suffering.

Since I have woken up, I appreciate myself more. The soft edges and smooth warmth cultivated like a rare aged whiskey. However, I still have worries about survival. A momentum of pain carrying forward from while I was still asleep.

For some reason, it is not an American value (from a governmental position anyway) that we care for one another. No health care, the minimum wage is so low I don’t know what minimum they are describing. It isn’t the amount you need to survive, at least in the U.S., I’m damn sure of that.

I don’t have an answer to capitalism vs socialism. I wish we could have both though. The efficiencies of capitalism with the few key principles of socialism in terms of holding human life just above those efficiencies, blended together and leaving room for more folks to rise up out of poverty and trauma.

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