The Night Watch

The Night Watch was created in 1969.  Today I reflect on that image of four dark figures huddled around a candle, passing a smoking joint as they wait out the night.

Image of the painting titled "Night Watch"

Night Watch

In the days of hippiedome every mind-altering substance was explored. Never in the history of humanity had there been such a chance for mass revelation.

But in our innocence we failed to notice that for each of these mind-altering and psychedelic substances there is a gateway to that altered perception. An ally guards the gateway; and each psychedelic substance has its own ally. Call it a force field or an entity, it needs to be appeased or won over. If you are proven true by the ally you are allowed to pass across the abyss onto the shores of splendor. These allies are both fierce and extracting waiting to bag us soul and all if we fail to make the proper offerings.

In most societies shaman and visionary leaders guarded this psychedelic knowledge. But with our western sense of entitlement we ploughed through millennium of ritual and wisdom without a care or a guide to prepare the way. No wonder the whole psychedelic thing died in disillusionment as many of us found ourselves trapped by acts of silliness and greed and the foolish idea that we could take and give nothing in return.

“I just want to get loaded” was a sure chance that you would get loaded all right but not by what you were expecting. Mostly it was just dumb stupidity. For some of us it was the terrible consequences of the law. And once and while we miraculously stumbled on to a vision of self-enlightenment.

We forgot that you had to pay the price to make the crossing. Drug addiction is not the price. Addiction is what you get when you fail to pay the price. The price for the crossing is simple; you must offer a part of your self, a commitment to bring back a sliver of truth from those other worlds and to share the magic with the rest of us. In stories and myth it is the Prometheus gift. It is the return of the dragon hunter who has freed and brought home the maiden-mother of earth so that the crops will grow once again. It is the boon, the magic jewel, or a simple idea.

Instead we went for party, for pleasure, for need, for the release of pain, and we were doomed from the beginning to an empty journey. We were the “heroes of a thousand faces” who plunged into a failed quest, while wonderment was just beyond our reach.

We were so close to the divine and we blew it. We even had the act itself at our fingertips and I do not mean the smoking weed but the act of passing that sacred smoke to each other. It was the eucharist, the gift, the treasure, the sharing and the receiving of the sacred message of the gods.

Image of detail from the painting titled "Night watch"

Detail from the painting titled “Night Watch”

The Night Watch is dedicated to the Louie Kelly’s, the Lane Wooden’s, and the Ron Denend’s of Topanga Canyon and all those who huddled at the edge of that dark precipice waiting for the coming of the dawn.

Note: You may also enjoy the latest update on the construction of the Mushroom Wedding Arch at: http://psikeep.wordpress.com/

And of course comments are always welcome.

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Sorceress Ascending

nightascent

Sorceress Ascending is my take on the  Duchampian multi-image across time. It was created in the early 1970’s. In this work I used drafting pens with Koh-I-Noor ink and white acrylic paint on artist cardboard. It is sealed with a clear acrylic varnish, which has not yellowed over the years. The work is 5 x 4 feet.

I created it during a stressful time of my life when I was breaking up with a man I had lived with for a several years. The choice to break up had been mine but that did not lessen the pain of separation. We had lost the house we had been living in and we both had moved into a house occupied with three other people. He got the bedroom and I got the living room and the hall. We never regarded ourselves as a commune. We were just five people stuck at the same time in that place.

But the news media had other ideas. Channel 5 came out to our house and did an extensive interview about the “hippies in the canyon.” A year later they came back to the canyon just before Halloween. By that time I had moved into a cabin of my own.  Actually it was an 8 x 10 garden shed. Oh the places we are willing to live in our youth. I had just come back from trip to the desert with a haul of cow bones. I was building several sculptures with the bones for a show that was to open on Halloween night in the canyon. I do not know how Channel 5 found me but they did and I agreed to let them come out and film. I think they were looking for something “witchy” and all the bones around the place certainly helped with the atmosphere. For me it was great publicity. While I never got to see the footage that aired on TV, there was  a great turnout for my opening a few nights later.

Witches and sorceresses really do not ride broomsticks.  The broom is the symbol of womanhood,  the hearth, the fireside and the home.

In this art work the sorceress begins her sacred transformation by first removing her sandals to be one with the earth.

Detail of  the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the Woman removing her clothes

Detail of Woman removing her sandles

Next she unbinds her hair to free herself from the restraints of society.

Detail of the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the woman unbinding her hair.

Detail of Woman unbinding her hair

Last she removes her clothes, her earthly identity. She is no longer the housewife, She is Mother, Goddess, Giver of Life, Keeper of the Fire and the lowly broom is her staff of power.

Detail of the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the woman removing her clothes.

Detail of Woman removing her clothes

Mouth of American Gun

Revised version of the commentary for Mouth of American Gun.

Painting titled; American Gun (full view)

Mouth of American Gun (full view)

This work was created as a reaction to the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968. The medium is Koh-I-Noor ink, acrylic paint and resin on pasteboard laminated on plywood. The dimensions are 5 x 7 feet.

The work represents the violence of American society both real and that which is expressed in our entertainment and our archetypes.

For my generation, the first strike against America was the assassination of President Kennedy. The reaction to that event was grief and loss. On the night of that terrible day both my roommate and I expressed our hopelessness by racing some nameless driver down a freeway through a construction zone at 95 miles and hour. The arresting officers let us go, probably as depressed and confused as we were. All of us in tears on that empty freeway. Not only had the President of the United States died but faith in the office of the President died as well. For an uneventful college student it was the end of a faith in the distant mechanics of our government. Something else had climbed into the saddle.

Even far more sinister was the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, which took place four years later. American Gun was born on the floor of a medical research lab during my slow days running FSH tests for the clinic. It was my ineffable reaction to the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. His assassination signified that the plan to take control of America was marching relentlessly forward and taking place very close to home.

Painting titled: Mouth of american Gun. Detail: lower center)

Mouth of American Gun (detail: lower center)

Image of painting titled: Mouth of American Gun (detail center left)

Mouth of American Gun (detail center left)

Painting titled: Mouth of American Gun (detail: upper center)

Mouth of American Gun (detail: upper center)

Painting titled: Mouth of American Gun (detail:  lower screen right)

Mouth of American Gun (detail: lower screen right)