Yesterday, I put together a window, for the best frame shop in town, Art Etc. on Murray Hill road. I have worked there in different capacities for the last three years, and could not say enough about the place and our neighbors on the street. One year ago I was scrambling, trying to finish this painting for the Columbus Day Parade. Every year in Clevelands Little Italy, there is a parade, I have watched it from the stoop at work for the last two years. The parade seems to mainly consist of a political march of judges campaigning for re-election. There are also school marching bands, cheerleaders, people dressed up as Columbus, mechanical dragon floats (that Ive also spotted driving down Euclid in East Cleveland with blue lives matter stickers on the back), floats shaped like the Santa Maria, and old men running around in "Krazy Kops" and robbers costumes ahead of the "hangin' judge". The whole display is a bleak caricature of this countries brutal history in the last five hundred years. I could go on and on about Columbus, the wonderful things the world has lost because of his greed and the greed of the Vatican and the Spanish state, but Ill give just a brief outline. In 1942 Columbus encountered the Arawak in the Bahamas, who swam to greet him with food and gifts, he described them as handsome, strong, and easy to enslave because they lacked concept of weaponry. by 1550 hundreds of thousands had been worked to death, killed, or committed suicide, and only 500 remained, by 1650 no Arawak or their decedents remained on the islands.
I am so grateful for the Arawaks, because it is inspiring to read about a society who at its core provided abundance for its people and lacked the uglier aspects of what is normal in modern times. I can look back in history and see there were times when women had autonomy and authority over their own bodies, and that there were people living in abundance focused on sharing and growing food, without even subjugating animals for labor. These were people who had not allowed jealousy or anger into their psyche. They would be a valuable asset for the problems we face in the world today. It is a tragedy that they are gone, and another tragedy that instead of learning about them we learn about Columbus. American culture feels like a vacuum of propaganda honoring men who should be categorized war criminals.
I started this triptych altarpiece painting to explore the idea of our cycling history, to try to understand how this brutal state continues to wreak havoc on the earth and people. I paired it with a ceramic sculpture of a seven headed beast from the book of revelations. I also added a turquoise ceramic dog and the wire tree shadowboxes of Cindy Chmielewski.
I am so excited that this painting will be on display in Little Italy for tomorrow's Columbus Day Parade. I would like to add, that I have never seen any opposition to this parade, and so all you who enjoy organizing and protesting, might consider coming down and letting these kids who are forced to play in their schools marching band know, that not everyone in this city is complicit with glorifying one of history's monsters, guessing by how offended one judge got by my 5"x7" protest sign on a popsicle stick last year, it could be a really fun time.