Sunday, May 22, 2005

May 22, 2005
Record breaking heat. Supposed to reach 112 today. Hit 113 yesterday.

Both the cooler on the house and the cooler on the studio aren't working right. Need to call in the pros.

Worked on a painting I call "Nekkid Fandango." This is the alleged Curly Bill incident where, fresh out of jail, he and his pards crashed a Mexican dance near Charleston and made everyone strip naked and dance at the point of pistols. I'm fighting the urge to make it humorous. I imagine it was quite terrifying for the locals, who no doubt had children in attendance. The inherent racism of the story (it was more or less played for laughs in the San Francisco newspapers at the time of the incident in 1881) is disturbing, but typical of that time period. In fact it's a strong metaphor for the racist conceit of the dominant anglo culture that existed then, and to some degree, still does. Imagine the incident the other way around, with a gang of Mexican bandits commandeering a white settler's barn dance and making everyone strip and dose-ee-doe. I'm cribbing from several John Singer Sargent paintings, most notably El Jaleo (ironically painted in 1882) which portrays a Spanish flamenco dancer in full stride, and the dramatic shadows along the far wall creates a dark, festive mood. Quite ambitious. Hope I can capture some of the pathos and mood.

Hotter than hell. Going to go swimming. It's too hot to type.

"Man is the cruelest animal. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions he has so far felt best on earth; and when he invented hell for himself, behold, that was his heaven on earth."

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