Tuesday, August 15, 2017

After Charlottesville

Dallas has a park in Uptown that's named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

I've always liked this park.

It's beautiful.  In the spring azaleas bloom.  All year round there are trees and grass, a handsome building (loosely modeled on Lee's Arlington) and a fine bronze equestrian statue of Lee and an adjutant.  I like equestrian statues.  To a designer it sits especially nicely on the site. Plus the granite steps at its base are a good place to eat a sandwich.

General Lee is an fascinating historical figure: a great and still-studied general; a traitor who chose the Confederacy over the Union; and a slave owner who freed his slaves during the Civil War... although once I researched that fact, it turns out that he did so only because it was required by his father-in-law's will.  Complicated and ugly history.

Even before Charlottesville this was a controversial park and statue.

Before Charlottesville I would have suggested that hiding history is a mistake - better that the statue be left as it is but with context added, and not just that doomed adjutant and a few informative plaques.  I'd like to call in a brilliant artist like Kara Walker to add that context physically, perhaps adding bronze silhouettes in her style spiraling out from the original bronze.  Silhouettes of... slaves and those slaves made to dig trenches for the Confederate Army, of wounded soldiers of both armies, of lynching, of civil rights protesters and Dr. King, of Black Lives Matter and the Dallas police who were killed, and now, sadly, of Charlottesville.  There is also a local artist who might add projections to this ensemble, turning Lee and these contextual bronze cut-outs into screens for the continuing story of race in America.

I think that could turn a memorial of Jim Crow Dallas into a living, growing, and perhaps important art work pointing toward an America that lives up to its promise.

But now?

I'm afraid even great art might become only a magnet for alt.right, neo-Nazi, and the KKK.

I do wish we could keep just the horses.  Horses are innocent.

A mock-up of what the Lee statue might become... 
(After the art of Kara Walker.  If you haven't seen it, you MUST.  Powerful, powerful stuff.)

Whatever eventually becomes of Dallas' bronze Lee, his sidekick, and their beautiful horses, we citizens must now make perfectly clear:

Bigotry is wrong.  It betrays the soul of America.  
We reject it.

Anyone or any group that advocates bias or violence against anyone because of their race, color, religion, origin, gender or sexuality is unAmerican.  

ADDENDUM #1: Obviously, we need to change the name of the park back to its original one, Oak Lawn Park.

ADDENDUM #2:  Another suggestion for unwanted but historic statues, plant them together in a park like the Russians have... read the BoingBoing post HERE.

ADDENDUM # 3:  Complicated issue isn't it?  But I think a consensus is emerging that the confederate monuments should be removed.  Here are Stonewall Jackson's descendants' views, from an open letter to the Mayor of Richmond, Virginia :

"They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display."

ADDENDUM # 4:  This has been a pretty serious discussion - here's the flippant one:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This Country

“this country—this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good, and magnificent country....  

What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting done much apart.”   Sen. John McCain

If you haven't watched Senator John McCain's heartfelt speech, you should.  HERE   

He's speaking to the Senate, but we should all apply his cry for bipartisanship to all our lives: talk to each other!  listen!  be open and work together to help each other and our country.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Battle for Net Neutrality

Call your representatives please.  Tell 'em you like your internet neutral!

Need more info?  Listen to comic John Oliver  HERE.

And, of course, you can only watch that video because we HAVE net neutrality... otherwise mine would be a   very   slow    lane    indeed.

Two Things...

Two completely unrelated things:


Whenever you're shopping on Amazon, please consider using the Amazon Smile page HERE where you can select Kitchen Dog Theater as recipient of free money! (Amazon donates 0.5% of qualified purchases.)  

Please and Thank You!  We're saving to fix up our future Dog House so we appreciate every penny.


A lovely and timely quote from Henry David Thoreau...

Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downwards through the mud and slush of opinion and tradition, and pride and prejudice, appearance and delusion...
till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place which we can call reality and say, 
"This is and no mistake."

Isn't that a wonderful image?  

Anyone who's ever sat on a riverbank wriggling their toes in the green-y mud down to the cool, water-smoothed limestone below, you know how reassuring that solid, non-slip footing is.

Today - when life and especially politics! - seem especially slimy with opinion and lies... well, a fact that's an actual FACT is a comfort.  I believe strongly that at this moment it is our civic duty to wriggle down through the muck to find truth.  

Then to act on that.

The surface under our feet is shifting at this moment - rules for healthcare, the environment, the internet, education, immigration, trade, foreign wars and relations - all  changing.  We need to let our legislators know what we need and want RIGHT NOW.  

We each need to figure out what truth we stand on.

(Thanks to Chris Tucker's review of the new Thoreau biography for reminding me of this Walden quote.  Time to reread that book... and to look for that new bio: Thoreau: a Life by Laura Dassow Walls.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Color Names

Finding good names for colors is a vital skill for paint companies, but it's hard.  

I understand that, years ago, the endless torment of trying to decide whether to call that beige-y pink "Baby's Face Pink" or "Seashell Blush" drove one company to throw up its hands.  (Corporations are legally people, people generally have hands, ergo corporations have hands.)  They decided to just give colors numbers!  Briefly.  Because, turns out, #346-A7 doesn't sell as well as "Rhapsodic Red."

It's a problem.

Well, check out this post at Ars Technica on using artificial intelligence to take over the job...   HERE  Humans ain't outa work yet.

My favorite AI generated names might be "Cremper Viulet" or "Kold Of Tale" - which would make great fairy tale character names.  "Blue Child" (a pink) is a another favorite.  But "Copper Panty?" ...bet that name sells!

Believed public domain image - found HERE with others!

On the subject of corporations as people... one of my trusty art and set dressing supply sources, Hobby Lobby, has just been caught illegally buying Iraqi antiquities, with the money possibly funding Islamic terrorists.  This confused me because, um, why?  New selections in Home Decor?  Or in... Ceramics?  But it seems they're starting a Biblical museum.


I've been trying to overlook Hobby Lobby's no-workers-here-get-birth-control-'cause-religion stand on the theory that workers can quit (theoretically) if that offends them.  But I feel pretty strongly about knowingly fueling the stolen art market.  Plus, you know, terrorists.


Guess Michaels will be getting most of my business now.  

(Can't believe this, but I just took time to read Michaels' "Code of Business Conduct and Ethics" and to check their Better Business rating!  They sound good.  In fact, their "Code" seems admirable in content, presentation, and concrete examples.  I'll hope they follow it.) 

Theater doesn't just talk about ethics, it requires 'em.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Color Wheel

Going through some old files, I found this sketch for a class on interior design that I taught ages ago...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How'd That Turn Out?

Thought you might like a few pics of the completed Native Gardens set:

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

Native Gardens at WaterTower Theater - photo Gary DeVries

That's real dirt people, and (mostly) real plants.  A heroic job by the set-build crew!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arts and Healthcare

One of the hazards of relatively bad pay (and artists mostly earn low pay!) is that it comes - if it comes at all - it comes with relatively bad healthcare too.

Whatever your politics, you need healthcare.

This is the week to talk to your U.S. Senator to remind them how important your health is.

A very young Statue of Liberty

(Well... a very young protester merged with that goddess for online anonymity)
I messed with her charming face and the background... but couldn't improve her sign.

Speak up!

I'm not kidding about the importance of good health - and the healthcare that helps preserve that blessing.  A good friend, a theater designer, died prematurely because he couldn't afford insurance and so went to the doctor much too late.


Take care of yourself.  Find insurance you can afford (through a spouse's employer maybe? or the ACA while it lasts).  Eat well.  Sleep.  And don't fall off that ladder while you're "exercising"!