Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Thousand Eleven

is going to be huge.
Let your hair down,
put on some rouge

Ride an elephant
to Baton Rouge
Prepare for the deluge

of Life,
and Art
is about to start.
Paint on,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at Foxglove

THE CHRISTMAS TABLE IS SET. I am dining at Foxglove with Mr. and Mrs. Swan, Hulky, Bulky, and Snowy (their grown cygnets), fifty or so titmouses, three blue jays, two squirrels, Bella, Blossom and one dear. And he really is a dear. My husband is wondering whether he is the dear or if it is Jeff, the needlepoint deer which hangs over the fireplace.

While I am hoping our petulant amaryllis opens its outrageously red and white striped petals to scent the cottage air, a thousand uninvited Canadian geese crash our pre-dinner cocktail party. The swans let them stay for a half hour or so. "Hissssss!" they hiss, "What the hiss, it's Christmas."

Our Christmas tree is a living Norwegian spruce. It is out on the deck, overlooking the lake, its rootball warmed by mulch and burlap, lighted with white lights which twinkle on and off every now and again when squirrels mischievously dance in its boughs. The smaller birds love it and dart in and out, posing atop it and on its branches as if they were its ornaments. In addition to the tree, they are enjoying their Christmas present, a heated birdbath. I will never have to say goodbye to my tree because it will be planted in the woods of Foxglove during the first warm spell we have.

Pine and cedar garlands adorn the deck. Moss topiary ducks with red plaid bows sit sentry over the lake, guarding the cottage. Bella is old now and she is not too good at that anymore. But she is still is in charge of shoes.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Paint on,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deck the Halls

with boughs of folly,
um, err, uhh ... that's holly
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Hope your Christmas is very jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la la

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Dancing Fool


Oh, why couldn't I have married John Travolta, or at least starred with that dancing fool in Saturday Night Fever? Or better yet, James Brown or either of Sam and Dave. I could have shown them a move or two.

I recently attended John and Lisa's Christmas party. It was easily one of the loveliest holiday parties in the history of New York. There wasn't any dancing though, unless you count my husband's slow-motion swan dive towards the refreshment table. However, one of the reasons I liked the party so much, other than the obvious reasons of delicious food, champagne and company, is that it was a reunion with many friends whom I had met at John and Lisa's wedding earlier this year.

I was excited to see my tablemates from the wedding again. Usually I consider myself lucky if at a wedding my tablemates are tolerable, but these mates were so much fun. We had a blast and bonded instantly between dancing. Other guests that I had rubbed shoulders with while dancing at the wedding were at the party too. I recognized them immediately and when I reintroduced myself to them, they invariably said, "Oh yes, I remember you–the dancing fool."

Well... in my defense, I do love dancing, and weddings are about the only chance I get to dance these days, except when I am relieving various bodily and mental tensions that build up after hours of painting. I probably look like a loon, but this solo dancing is one of the best ways to release tightness and muscle pain caused by painting–but it has to be gravity-defying to be effective. I learned this as an undergraduate in a cartooning class at Parsons. Professor Stuart Leeds, a New Yorker cartoonist, had the whole class get up and dance around to loosen up our drawing hands and arms before we commenced drawing. Later, after hours of drawing, he had us dance to relax. It actually works and is a good way of staying in drawing shape.

I've had some fantasies about dancing over the years. When I was "the night person," so named by my doorman as I returned home in the early-morning hours after dancing 'til dawn every day, I always wished I would meet someone who would dance me to death (figuratively speaking, of course) by outdancing and outlasting me. (Remember that old movie, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? I would have won that marathon hooves down!). That never happened though. Instead, spent dancers avoided making eye contact with me after I had exhausted one partner and was on the prowl for another.

I finally figured out that I eventually will be danced to death (literally) when the Grim Reaper chooses me as his partner for my last dance. Yes, I will dance with Grimmy

'til the cows come home
'til the end of time...

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to leave this earth. I am having a really nice time here. But when I do, I know I will dance my way through eternity in heaven–which would be cool.

On the other hand, I hear the dancing in hell is hot!

Click on links to see some of my favorite dancing fools in action. (Sorry I do not have any footage of the biggest fool of all–me!)

Dance on,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ode to Jack and Joyce

to drink champagne in their carriage
They drank too much, came tumbling down
and then it turned into marriage.

They gave each kid a name with a "J"
There's Jennifer, Joey, John ... but–hey!
What happened with Amy?
No one will say ...
Happy Anniversary, anyway!

Paint on,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Did Ogden Do It?

What rhymes with lightning? ... Frightening!

you can toss doggerel
fast as you write it
down the wishing well.

But don't get uptight
do not wish you might
try ... oh sigh ...
a limerick tonight.

A limerick
is just a trick
to hide the fact
your brain's a brick

and doggerel's the lowest form of humor
much like having a literary tumor.
You hope to get rid of it–put a lid on it
or go to India and change your name to Kumar.

Then why did Ogden do it?

Ogdan Nash though brainy and brash
spent many a day in extreme rash
of uncontrollable rhyming syntax.
Then he'd have a drink and crash.

***With apologies to Ogden, Kumar,
and the many limerists and doggerelists, including myself-ist.

Paint on,

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Intellectual Property

Sunday, November 28, 2010


HARRISONIA IS A STATE OF MIND. I am thoroughly enchanted whenever I visit that state. The ruler of this land is HRH Harrison Barrison, an off the wall, free-spirited, eight-year-old benevolent dictator. The top fourteen reasons I like visiting Harrisonia so much are because Harrison :

14. Is never cold and is never tired.

13. Hears thunder and wonders whether it is Thor, and whether Thor is in charge of lightning as well.

12. Stands as far away as he possibly can when filling up watering can to make it more fun and challenging to get water into the aperture.

11. Carries fistfulls of brightly colored, appallingly wiggling rubber snakes around with him.

10. Eats strawberry pancakes while performing cool dance moves to ambient rock music standing up in booth, inspiring wait staff to gyrate with him.

xxxxa. Figured out why pancakes taste good–maple syrup.

9.Eats only three things for dinner: chicken nuggets, hot dogs and french fries.

xxxxa. Figured out why french fries taste good-- Ketchup.

8.Tests sharpness of cactus needles at the nursery by pressing his fingers into them.

7. Jumps off twelve-foot high boulders to see if he will bounce.

6. Rapidly clicks bathroom light on and off while I'm inside to give me the benefit of strobe effect.

5. Knows a thousand reasons why it's not time to go to bed.

4. Holds hands and poses with store mannequins, so they will not be lonely.

3. Scores soccer goal–says it's not about the goal, it's about the way teammates set it up.

2 Systematically loses all birdies before badminton net is even set up.

And the number one reason I like to visit Harrisonia is because Harrison:

1.Moves hand-held shower head back and forth in front of his mouth and says he's kissing his girlfriend.

It's fun visiting Harrisonia, but ... err ... uh ... Harrison ... lose the snakes.

Friday, November 19, 2010


John Addison Youngs, III
March 3, 1973 - November 20, 2002
An artist, journalist and gentleman
loved by all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Empathy for Winged Hunters

Reliquiae enhances their culture.
Others dive in search of fish.
I too eat sushi--it's delish.

Though I fret, Egret,
when you fly through the sky
with your prey, which will die,
I'll not have an impassioned snit.
At least you're dainty about it.

While the cormorant picks his bone,
I've certainly got my own
to pick---with his wings,
the silly inefficient things.
With wings, he swims and soars quite high
When wet, he holds them out to dry
And, yet, it's odd; you might ask, why?
Water-laden, he cannot fly.

Stealthily, the graceful heron fishes off my dock
Long pointed beak pinning bass to rock
A toss of his head sends his catch up high
but before you know it ... down the gullet!
Then off he flies to hunt for pullet.

But so do you and I.

Paint on,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cadavre Exquis

"CADAVRE EXQUIS" IS A PARLOR GAME INVOLVING DRAWING or words. It relies on the chance encounter as a disruption of rationality and a product of the shared. Invented and played by Andre Breton and other 1920's Surrealist artists, "Cadavre Exquis" literally translates to "Exquisite Corpse."

To play, the first artist would begin by secretly drawing a head of a person or animal. He would then fold over the paper, hiding all but a small portion of the neck. The second artist would continue the drawing. From the neck lines of the first artist, he would draw the torso, including arms, wings, tentacles, or whatever struck his fancy. He would then again fold the paper so that only a small portion of the hips or thighs was showing and pass it along. The third artist would continue drawing the legs, feet or perhaps claws and a tail, springing off from the exposed tips of the hip lines.

This is one of many ways in which the Surrealists experimented with, and exploited, the mystique of accident and collaboration. Indeed, even the name is derived from a phrase that resulted when they first played the game: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," meaning "The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine." This early game obviously was played with words rather than drawings.

An artist/curator friend recently asked me to paint a portion of a Cadavre Exquis on which he will be working with other artists. We haven't started yet, but I am eagerly looking forward to it. At the time he invited me, I was just beginning to learn Photoshop and the invitation gave me an idea. I could turn what might have been tedious Photoshop exercises into real fun by playing solitaire Cadavre Exquis. Thank you, Chuck!

I produced many collages, either from top to bottom or left to right (as in the one above) by dividing my Photoshop canvas into three parts. I took three random paintings and merged them together, continuing the lines from one image to the next with some strange and delightful results. At the time, I knew how to use the move tool, so I could move corresponding body parts of three different paintings into compositional alignment. But I had yet to learn image resizing, so the sections of the various paintings are not all the same image size. Though I was playing solitaire, it is still very much in the spirit of Cadavre Exquis.

One of the most beautiful and surprising accidents of the composite painting above is the strong lavender-suited forearm energetically jutting out of the background without a body of its own (left side center–leading to the hand with bluebird perched on it in the second mid-section.) I was stunned when I noticed it. At first I thought it must be magic because I did not actually ever draw a lavender forearm on any of the paintings which I combined. It seemingly emerged on its own from an abyss in the lavender background. In fact, it is the lavender background, re-articulated visually as a forearm by framing between the seat and the back of the chair. Chance had it that the defined space is the same shape and at the same angle as it would have been if I had actually drawn it there. Because it serendipitously leads to and connects with a hand in the next section, it strongly suggests "forearm" to the viewer. It is amazing to me because I had nothing to do with it. It is also haunting because it is echoes a remembered image of the government recruiting posters picturing Uncle Sam's pointing finger with the message, "Uncle Sam wants you"– in my case, to have more artistic accidents, I guess.

Well, accidents will happen! In addition to the magically-appearing forearm, the composite rendering of half my nephew's face on top of my best friend's face (right side of composite face) looks suspiciously like Keven Spacey. And to think I would have never known this, had I not entertained myself playing Cadave Exquis solitaire.

Paint on,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Shrimp cocktail. Hold the shrimp!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Yeah, they're flowers, but they're deadly nightshade!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mc Word's Worth: Toll House Cookie

SINCE I WAS FIVE years old I have been fascinated by words, especially their illogical/multi-definitional aspects. Even at that tender age, I was embarrassed by words. Being a Virgo, I was very strict about the way I used and interpreted words and I tried to really use them only in accordance with their precise meanings. But the more I found out about words, the more I was–and still am–perplexed by their capriciousness.

One day our kindergarten teacher administered an IQ test to my class. (At that age how smart could we have been anyway?) Because we did not have sufficient vocabularies and many of us could not yet read or write, the test was supposed to measure our intelligence by having us copy different geometric shapes, drawing them with a pencil next to the ones which appeared on the test.

To this day, I remember the specific directions which I, and apparently only I, followed. The teacher instructed us, "Copy the shapes and draw them next to the ones on your test exactly as you see them." The test was printed on newsprint, so the shapes were formed by hundreds of tiny dots, comic book style, rather like a Roy Lichtenstein painting. (I wonder if Lichtenstein had to take that same IQ test? Maybe that's how he developed his artistic style.) Because our teacher had stressed that we were to draw the shapes "exactly " as they appeared, that is the way I drew them– dot-by-dot, with each dot placed in the "exact" location corresponding to the one in the original shape. Only that constituted drawing them "exactly" for me.

When the allocated time for the test was up, most of my classmates had drawn all 25 or so shapes, incorrectly to my mind, in outline form, while I was still precisely composing a corner of the first shape. I was working on it in all its volumetric glory, carefully and faithfully, dot by dot. Yes, I can follow directions and did, indeed, draw the shape "exactly" as I saw it. How embarrassing. I guess my IQ was off the bottom end of the chart!

Suspecting that I might be considered intellectually challenged, I thought I might be able to save face if I figured out how words and language were conceived. There must have been a time in the history of mankind, I thought, when there was an absence of words. In my infinite five-year-old wisdom, I was certain that the two greatest, wisest people I knew of at that time–God and George Washington–had jointly invented words. What surprised me, though, was that some of their words were quite illogical. Take, for example, the word they made up for "dog," which is the inverse of the word for "God." If I were in charge, I would have chosen that word for the Devil. He is more the opposite of God than a dog, which is one of God's finest creations. Other words seemed arbitrary, overused, stretched and too all-inclusive.

I truly believed I would redeem myself when I told my teacher I figured out that God and George, sitting atop Mt. Rushmore, made up names for all the things they saw. They picked the highest place they could find in order to see everything and not leave anything out. I imagined God would say to George Washington, "You know, George, we've got a lot of interesting things here on earth, but how can anyone talk about them if they don't have names?" George agreed. He understood that agreeing with God was the wisest course. Accordingly, the two great wordsmiths started pointing to various things and naming them. "Let's call that, 'woman,' George," said God. Then they both agreed on "tree" for trees, with God adding, "Now don't go chopping any down, George." (That's the one time George didn't agree with God). But here's the part I don't understand: they picked out several disparate items and gave them all the same name or a name that sounds too similar for such different things. Consider the words "witch," a woman credited with usually malignant supernatural powers and "which," used as a function word to introduce a relative clause. Also, "train," as in teaching and "train," a series of connected railroad cars pulled by one or more locomotives.

A prime example is "cookie." I hate to challenge God and George Washington, but what they did with that word just doesn't work. What were they thinking? Did they run out of words? Below are three wildly disparate things that they decided to name "cookie":

1. The desert or snack we eat that is a small, flat-baked treat, usually containing fat, flour, eggs and sugar.*

2. A piece of text stored by a computer's web browser.
3. An orthopedic insert placed in a shoe under the metatarsal bones in order to take pressure off the foot and relieve pain.

Maybe they were tired by the time they got around to naming all those things "cookie."

They did a little better with "toll" and "house" and also when they put them together and got "toll house". It does makes sense to name a payment for using a road a "toll" and the structure in which a collector sits a "house," and together have them called a "toll house." I have to admonish God and George on "toll," though. We didn't really get our words' worth with "toll"; it's only four letters. In addition ... helloooo ... I am not even getting into the word's alternate confusing sense as when used in "For whom the bell tolls," or as in the verb to "toll" metal.

Getting back to cookies, they did something really nutty (and think about "nutty," which can mean either
mentally unbalanced or having a flavor like that of nuts.) They gave one of the cookies the name "toll house cookie." To prove my point, I have illustrated the toll house cookie. God! George! What were you thinking? Please see above.

PS. There is a school of thought that believes that George and God were not responsible for naming cookies, or anything else for that matter. This school believes that "cookie" derives from the Dutch word "koekie," which means "little cake" and arrived in the English language through the Dutch in North America. This heretical school further erroneously believes that Ruth Wakefield invented and named the toll house cookie when in 1937 she got the idea to make a chocolate butter cookie for her guests. She broke up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate that Andrew Nestle had given her. She thought that the chocolate would melt and mix with the dough to make all-chocolate cookies. As we now know, it didn't and chocolate chips were left in the cookies. Her guests loved these tasty delights, which were named after Mrs. Wakefield's Inn, The Toll House. This unlikely tale is a sweet, chocolate-y little fantasy, but ...

Depingo's readers know better.

Paint on,

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Sneaker Graveyard

SWIMMING UP FROM SEVEN FATHOMS UNDER Candleberry Lake* at a speed so fast he would leave Michael Phelps far behind and probably get the bends, a young diver, trembling with excitement, breaks the surface and sputters to his mates, "Hey, there must have been a sneaker factory here at one time; I found hundreds of sneakers in one spot." When I hear him say that, I breathe a sigh of relief. No one knows the truth–the real truth. The diver's assumption is plausible, but it is wrong.

It is plausible because Candleberry Lake was not always a body of water. It used to be farmland at the base of Candleberry Mountain. In 1926 Connecticut Light and Power Co., in order to create hydroelectric power from the Histrionic River, dammed the river, flooding the surrounding farmland. In doing this, the utility created the extremely deep, 18-mile long Candleberry Lake. Local legend has it that if you dive down to the bottom of the lake you will find old roads and farm houses with families preserved as they were at the time the land was flooded. Some say there are entire preserved families sitting at the dinner table with their food-laden forks poised halfway up to their mouths. Other unfortunates still sit in their easy chairs knitting. This is why our young diver thought he had found (and indeed might have found, had there been one located in the vicinity in 1926) a sneaker factory.

But that is not the case. No, there never was a sneaker factory there. What the diver found is much more sinister. It is the sneaker graveyard. I might add that this final resting place for sneakers was not there when the land was flooded. I am one of an elite group of five people in the entire world who know how that sneaker graveyard came to be. And only three of this select circle are alive today. I feel I must share what I know of the events leading to the creation of the sneaker graveyard before this knowledge is lost forever. Therefore, I have decided to reveal what I have been concealing for so many years right here on this blog. Depingo's readers deserve to know.

Although I cannot reveal his name, I can tell you that some years ago a good doctor and his family lived on the lake. He was a surgeon, scholar and gentlemen, loved by all who knew him. He worked hard in New York City healing patients 11 months out of every year. He saved many lives and made many patients whole again. But when he was on vacation for the month of August... well, that is a different story.

The good doctor, escaping civilization, would drive up to his manse on Candleberry in full doctor drag, including an F. Tripler suit, cashmere socks, pinstriped shirt punctuated with gold cufflinks and a Countess Mara tie, and highly polished Bass Weejuns. Upon arrival, though, he would divest himself of this costume with haste, as if wearing it were the final human indignity. He shed it faster than a snake sheds its skin. However, while snakes shed in order to grow and advance their form, the good doctor would shed his last remnants of domestication in order to return to a wild state. Upon doing so, he immediately became feral.

This formerly manicured doctor quickly donned his summer wardrobe, which he had designed and manufactured himself. It consisted of three items: cut-off, shredded khakis (not much better than a loin cloth really); a rope which he tied around his waist, belt-style, to hold up the cut-off khakis; and a pair of tennis shoes. He wore these items for the entire month while he toiled at landscaping, building stone walls, making furniture and various other projects. He also swam, ate and slept in these three items for all of August. (OK, some nights he took the sneakers off for sleeping,)

Quite frankly, the doctor's wife was beside herself. She didn't know what to do with her severely devolved husband. She knew, though, that she wouldn't allow his shorts to go into the wash with the rest of the family's clothing. This did not present a problem for the good doctor. The one time he felt his garment needed washing, this brilliant inventor of surgical implements and procedures designed an operation for cleaning shorts. He tied one end of his rope/belt to his khakis and the other end to the stone dock and let Candleberry do the work. The lake swirled them around in its waters and its whitecaps beat them up against the stone dock. When the doctor felt they were clean (which was not very long), he put them on wet. The morning sun dried them in conformity with his body and at least they were somewhat cleaner. They didn't look so great, but he didn't care.

One of the neighbors was a kindly grandmother from an extended Italian family that summered on the peninsula. She had a hammertoe that bothered her and asked the world-famous trauma doctor if he would take a look at it. He needed an office, so he set two canvas-covered folding chairs on the dock, washed his hands in the lake and examined her while dressed in his summer outfit. It was comical to see patient and doctor sitting on the dock, she with her hammertoed foot resting in his lap on top of the torn shorts. She didn't seem to mind; in fact she seemed very grateful. When she asked how much she owed for the visit, the doctor replied, "Do you make clams casino?" She did indeed; in fact the dish was her specialty. The following day she delivered a tray of homemade clams casino, hot from her oven, for the doctor's lunch. Good thing, for by this time, his wife had decreed that he was not to come to lunch without a shirt on. Because a shirt was not part of his summer wardrobe, he enjoyed his clams casino while sitting on his favorite tree stump, accompanied by Peter, and Taffy, his cocker spaniels.

Word spread throughout the Italian summer community and he saw many more patients on the dock. He never had to don a shirt because he had a steady stream of clams casino, lasagna and pasta fagioli coming in daily.

There came a day when the doctor's daughter, who was coming of age, requested that her father put on proper clothes (perhaps at least a shirt) to meet her date when he came to pick her up. The doctor said, "I'm not putting on clothes– just tell him I'm the handyman." She was quite concerned about this antisocial turn her father had taken. She hoped his behavior was within normal limits for vacationing surgeons. Maybe this is how surgeons relaxed ... or was it? Maybe ... it was something else ... something far worse! Then, on their last night at Candleberry before the family returned to New York for school and work, she followed him and saw what he was doing. She actually witnessed it with her own eyes!

Before the ceremony started, her father sat quietly on a willow twig bench he had made himself and stared across the lake. Then, he slowly rose and moved toward the end of the dock. Was he carrying something in his arms? No ... it couldn't be. Yes! She could see them clearly now, for unsuspecting that he was being watched, he had moved into the moonlight. There were two of them and they were both badly decayed. You could almost discern the souls separating from them. The odor was unbearable even in the fresh, pine-scented night air. With a hint of hesitation and what looked like regret, the doctor raised both hands high over his head and heaved his decomposing, moonlit burdens to their watery doom. They sunk promptly because he had filled their orifices with rocks and bound them with their own laces. Then he waved goodbye, went up the stone steps to the house, took a long, hot shower and carefully laid out his full doctor's drag for the next morning's ride back to New York. Through careful observation, the doctor's daughter learned that her father repeated this morbid ceremony annually.

In retrospect, she believed that the doctor actually was very fond of all of them. After all, they were his sneakers.

*About Candleberry Lake, Candleberry Mountain and the Histrionic River: I changed their names so as not to get my father ... er ... um ... that is, the unnamed doctor, into any trouble.

PS. I wonder if anybody has discovered the cigarette "factory" adjacent to the sneaker graveyard yet?

Paint on,

Thursday, October 21, 2010


And that's supposed to make me like you better?

Friday, October 15, 2010


You look marvelous today, dear!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Better have another one just to make sure!

Bottoms up,

Saturday, September 25, 2010




I am from the planet Blixtarrg, in a galaxy billions of light years away from Earth. My people are also light years ahead of you Earthlings in intelligence and scientific development. Blixtarrg, and the entire galaxy we dominate, is curious about your puny race. Accordingly, I have been sent by the Council of Ministers of the Blixtarrg Aggregation to report on you Earthlings.

I can do this with ease because I and all of my fellow Blixtarrgans have the innate capacity to understand, speak and write all languages that have ever been spoken on Earth. Because of our highly-evolved state we are fluent even in those of your languages that have not yet evolved. In all modesty, I can truly say that we Blixtarrgans are exquisite beings.

Notwithstanding our billions of years of evolution and our near-perfection, we do, however, have one minor weakness, hardly worth mentioning. Indeed, I would rather call it a genetic quirk. In any event, all of us on Planet Blixtarrg are dyslexic. We have long since dealt with this by self-installing at birth mirrored corneas atop our three natural ones. In this way we can obtain corrected images, enabling us to communicate with lesser races such as yours.

My report follows:

After a brief flight from Blixtarrg, I enter into Earth orbit. While approaching said planet I observe that its prismatic hues consist primarily of blue and white with some greenarrg and beige, with gray hues closer to the population centers. Curiously, however, one area of the surface is predominantly crimson. I select a wooded area on the periphery of this red-stained area as my landing site. As I approach the rouge glow, I find that it is created by an aggregation of mobile red figures. These, I gather, are the species I was sent to study.

The creatures, which appear to be some primitive form of intelligent life, are being drawn by some sort of force field toward a huge, stone fort. Statues cloaked in full military regalia guard the entrances. The creatures are being scanned individually as they enter. The scanners seem to be using a primitive system which can detect metal and are denying entry to persons who are carrying metallic objects. Because my Blitxtarrgan mirrored corneas are metallic (made from a compound your people will not discover for another million years), I realize that I will have to remove them if I hope to gain entry. I remove my mirrored corneas with the insta-surg tool of my Blix Army knife. I never leave Blixtarrg without it!

I now see that the Earthlings are gathering for a religious event and what I thought was a fort is instead a stone enclosure of sacred grounds. I glean this because the red-clad Earthlings are all taking communion while parading toward the entrance. They are drinking a foamy-looking, golden substance called reeb. All of them, young and old, are drinking it. Some carry cases of it. Many are performing a reciprocal ceremony in which they pour reeb on each other's heads and laugh.

I want to blend in so I drink a reeb that someone has handed me. It makes me euphoric. Because I am substantially larger than humans, I take this opportunity to resize myself by enveloping my bodarrg with a marquee tool and at the same time change my colour to red. This is child's play for me because at birth Blixtarrgans have Photoschlarrg microchips implanted in our magnificent brainarrgs.

Once inside the holy ground, I observe about two hundred carefully fashioned robots precisely highstepping around a large open area. Some are swinging huge gold and silver jewelry in the air above their heads while others are sucking or blowing on curved or straight weapons. Still others beat furiously on round weapons which are tethered to them. This creates what I gather passes for music on Earth. I infer that these must be apostles of the deity these Earthlings await.

These marching ones are followed by a cluster of small dancers who prance and leap about in synchronized abandon. These small ones seem to have no problem defying gravity as they fly about with energy and grace. Sometimes they land atop taller Earthlings, who in turn toss the small ones from one to another. They eventually form a pyramid which points skyward, apparently imploring their divine one to appear.

As the excitement reaches a fevered pitch, the deity appears. He is much taller than the typical Earthling and though he walks upright, he looks more like one of the lower life forms than an Earthling. He possesses a huge brown head with a white stripe down the center, running to his long black snout. He has all-seeing, all- knowing eyes. His bodarrg as well as his head is covered with fur and he wears a gaudily-decorated, striped "talis" (for that is what such a garment is called by the tiny minority of Earthlings who follow the Hebraic religion) over it. I would not describe him as a dignified god. In fact, he appears quite ridiculous. He waves to his thousands of red-clad supplicants and mimes some foolery. Nevertheless, the crowd becomes more and more frenzied. They call out to their god, shouting in unison “Og Ykcub! Og Ykcub!" I surmise that is the great one's name.

Suddenly, Og’s soldiers appear. I surmise something solemn and serious is about to happen–perhaps a sacrifice is about to be offered up to Og. The warriors are huge and fierce, much larger than their fellow Earthlings. They wear the requisite red for the ceremony but they are heavily armored under their garments. Another set of warriors, clothed in uniform garb of a different color, emerge from the other side of the arena and taunt Og's warriors. Suddenly, pandemonium erupts! The opposing groups of warriors lunge and chase each other around, trying to capture some sort of disputed oblate spheroid icon. Some fall injured or dead and are dragged off the field of battle. Meanwhile the others push, trip and jump on one another in chaotic fashion.

Og seems extremely delighted by all of this, especially when his soldiers seem to be succeeding. But Og wants more. He is greedy, so it starts all over again. Sometimes Og is so elated when his soldiers succeed that he has a group of his followers lift him onto an altar. From his platform above his followers' heads, Og leads the masses in prayer by repetitively pumping his prostate body up and down on the altar. His followers thank him for their bounty by counting out loud the number of times Og propels himself upward.

At various times the multitudes jump up and down in spasms of frenzied joy. At lulls in the combat, they amuse themselves by slowly waving their upper appendages from side to side, while singing “U-rah-rah-U-rah-raaaah." This hymn causes tears to form in the eyes of many of the older Earthlings. In addition, some of the congregation have taken off their red shirts, exposing their chests on which are painted images of Og. Others have smaller forms of the Og images painted on their foreheads, cheeks, arms and legs. Upon further inspection, I can see now that Og's countenance, sometimes fierce and other times friendly, is imprinted on many of their garments and head coverings.

As the events around me build to a climax, I decide to return to Blixtarrg at once. I am a sensitive and civilized sentient creature and I have no wish to see tens of thousands of Earthlings sacrificed to their animalistic and bloodthirsty deity. I am certain that in a matter of moments, Og will become angry at some failure by his warriors, tire of the entertainment and invoke his wrath upon his hapless people. I have had enough and am not waiting around for this sordid end to the spectacle.

As I take my leave of this obscure and insignificant planet in a backwater of the inhabited universe, I resize myself to my splendid Blixtarrgan form and restore my natural coloration. I make my way back to my IGS-craft and take off for the short, faster-than-light journey back to Blixtarrg. As I gain altitude, I notice a large sign which I must have missed upon landing. It reads:

nisnocsiW, nosidaM ot emocleW

!ykcuB, oG

I realize that I have forgotten to replace my mirrored corneas. I insta-surg them back and am able to read the billboard. This is the message I bring back to Blixtarrg:

Welcome to Madison, Wisconsin.

Go, Bucky!


***Concept inspired by my friend Ken Feldman

Monday, September 20, 2010


MY HEART SKIPS A BEAT when I open the door because I don't recognize my own home. Maybe I have taken leave of my senses and somehow returned to the wrong place. The apartment I find myself in is dismally dark and eerily quiet but for some low growling sounds and another high-pitched, muffled one. The air is thick with the odor of some rotten universal solvent.

As my eyes acclimate to the darkness, I notice a sprawling heap in the center of my living room, with strewn clothes atop and around it. I can see that the bouquet of flowers on the coffee table is now in the garbage. A pungent, past-its-sell-date, fish smell assaults my nose. Something is fishy here, indeed. I discern a scowling figure sitting in one of my easy chairs in the darkened living room. Although the chair is not in the right spot, it does look like mine. I notice its mate is missing. What is going on here? Perspiration runs down my cheeks, my heart beats even faster, I hyperventilate. Should I fear for my life, run, scream?

I cannot move, let alone run and before I can initiate screaming, the scenario becomes clear. "Ohhhh," I sigh. "Ahhh," OK, I can relax. It's only ICG (Insufferable Composite Guest) who's come for a visit. She looks like a CGI (computer generated image) executed by a Photoshop neophyte. She has arrived early for her visit without alerting me. Chaos demystified.

ICG has turned off all the lights with the exception of a small table lamp from which she removed the shade. This irritating, isolated glare she pronounces the proper light for reading at night. She has turned off all the other lights because she doesn't like to waste money on electricity–even mine. All the window shades are down even though there is no need for privacy; the apartment is surrounded by a private garden. The music has been inexplicitly silenced--maybe she doesn't like White Stripes? A pair of easy chairs has been moved so that they are out of their decorative comfort zones. One has been moved about six feet so that it is adjacent to a window with a shade at half mast to facilitate daytime reading.

The other chair is placed in front of the entry hall. ICG is sitting in that one wearing a frown, a white t-shirt and red underpants–nothing else. She had to throw away the bouquet, she explains. There might have been bugs in it. Grumpily ICG accuses Bella, my elderly dog, of pinning her in her chair so that she can't get up and move about the house. I say, "Bella's just safeguarding you." But I think,"Good girl, Bella." No telling what ICG would have done next.

Thinking that I should salvage some of my living room decor, I decide to move ICG's smoked salmon-scented, over-sized suitcase to the guest room. It is currently lying in the center of the living room, flap hanging open like some exhausted, huge, brown tongue. There is another tongue–pink–licking it. The pink one belongs to Blossom, my cat. She is rooting around behind the brown one trying to find the salmon. She digs methodically and meows hysterically every time she thinks
she's close. Eventually, she finds it! ICG leaps up and wrests the leaky package from Blossom, permanently infusing my rug with eau d' smoked salmon. She admonishes Blossom, "No cat is going to eat my well-traveled smoked salmon."

And indeed it is. Apparently ICG originally acquired the smoked salmon at a wedding in Saskatoon at the beginning of the summer, and has been traveling with it ever since. She brought it back to Florida, post wedding, then took it to the Jersey Shore to visit her son. She and the salmon then visited her daughter in L.A. and then flew back to Florida. Now they have both flown up to New York. ... You know ... where is Homeland Security when you really need them? I'm telling you, that salmon had a more smokin' summer vacation than I did!

ICG explains to me that she has decided to sleep in the living room. She does not want to sleep in the guest room because the mattress there is too hard. She further instructs that she doesn't want her suitcase put in a closet because it would be too hard for her to get her things out of it. Compassionately, she notes that a suitcase in the middle of a living room doesn't help the decor and also blocks egress and ingress. Nonetheless, it is more convenient for her there. I allow ICG's clothes-vomiting suitcase to remain in the middle of the living room, thinking I can endure anything for a week.

That's when she springs it. Her visit might be longer than a week, so she has brought enough clothes for a month. She's kidding right? "No," she says, "What if I fall down and break a leg and am laid up here for a month. I'll need clothes." With no segue whatsoever, she continues, "And you're not going to like this next thing I have to tell you, but your husband is going to have an affair." How does she know? At this point, for peace of mind, I silently vow to take impeccable care of ICG so as to prevent any fractures. I also decide to answer any of her inappropriate viewpoints with "Whatever."

Then I serve some wine to take off the edge I am beginning to feel. I also put out a generous plate of hors d'oeuvres. Before I can even sit down, ICG has consumed them all, save one. I reach over so that I can have the last one but my hand collides in midair with ICG's. We do the "No, you take it-no, you take it" dance a couple of times and then ICG says "No, you can have it because I didn't really care for them." Perplexed, I wonder why she has eaten so many if she didn't like them. Guess she just wanted to make sure.

Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, I attempt to cheer myself up by thinking about something positive–like what is the best thing about ICG's visits. After considerable thought, I come up with something: the best thing about a visit from ICG is when she leaves! And when that time finally comes after infinity plus a day....

I do a little dance, do a little dance, get down that night, get down that night.
Do a little dance, the departure dance, get down that night, that's right!!

Paint on,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


ad infinitum nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn ad nauseum

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ms. Parenthetical

ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS is the poignant Mr. Pitiful, by Otis Redding. In addition to delighting me, it strikes a melancholy chord in my mind and heart and stirs up memories of betrayal every time I hear it.

Mr. Pitiful and I are kindred spirits of sorts for I was once Ms. Parenthetical. The cheery, upbeat melody of Mr. Pitiful belies its sad lyrics, just as the common-looking curved parentheses hide their destructive power behind a benign form. You probably think that parentheses are just another innocuous form of punctuation. Not true; if used thoughtlessly, they can be treacherous.

The opening verse of Mr. Pitiful follows:

They call me Mr. Pitiful
Baby that's my name now
They call me Mr. Pitiful. That's how I got my fame
But people just don't seem to understand
How someone can feel so blue
They call me Mr Pitiful, cause I lost someone just like you.*

I don't have to be told "how someone can feel so blue." I can write my own blues song. A verse from Ms. Parenthetical would parallel Mr. Pitiful and, perhaps, read as follows:

They called me Ms. Parenthetical

Baby, that was my name then

They called me Ms. Parenthetical. Tell you how I got my fame when

Parentheses imprisoned me and

Made me feel so blue,

I don't never, ever, ever want that to happen to you

They called me Ms. Parenthetical 'cause I lost someone too.

This is how I became Ms. Parenthetical. My boyfriend, a mutual acquaintance and I were corresponding via email about life and our artistic endeavors, which included my illustrating our acquaintance's book. The three-way emails were pleasant enough and continued for about a month. They then came to a temporary halt because the author needed to rewrite her work before I could start any drawing. Candidly, I was happy to put the work aside because I thought the story dull, unimaginative and lacking in vision or poetic beauty.

About five months hence, I discovered that the correspondence had only stopped for me. My boyfriend and the author had continued emailing each other, behind my back, daily, privately and for reasons other than collaborating on a book. Due to email misdirection, I had the occasion to read their ignoble emails.

Though the discovery of betrayal was emotionally unsettling, it was overridden by my fascination with the correspondents' use of parentheses in their dialogue. I was stunned by the power of this common punctuation and how these marks made me feel. Of all the words and sentiments I read in those emails, the parentheses were the most lethal. In a nutshell, punctuation punctured my heart.

For the first week or so after I was excluded from the emails, my boyfriend, Dalton, continued to sign his emails with both our names–"Dalton and Depingo." And the author addressed her emails to "Dalton and Depingo" as well, even though she was exclusively corresponding with Dalton. After a while, the author began addressing her emails to "Dalton (and Depingo)" and once to "Dalton (and, of course, Depingo)." Dalton followed suit and started signing his emails "Dalton (and Depingo)." Trapped between parentheses, I was being phased out, imprisoned, marginalized and rendered powerless. I was, indeed, in parenthetical jail, as it were. And I can tell you it was cold, dark and lonely between those restrictive, hard-edged, curved bars. It didn't take long though, before I was set free, grammatically at least, released from parenthetical prison and never again mentioned in their salutations or valedictions– ever–even in parentheses.

Deciding inquisitiveness was a better modus operandi than despair, I looked up "parentheses" in the dictionary. I learned that the definition is: to include material that you want to de-emphasize; a digression; a person, episode or incident that is irrelevant. Irrelevant! I? ...irrelevant? The second verse of my song started writing itself.

They called me Ms. Irrelevant!

That's what I was, baby

In parenthetical jail, baby

Where did I fail

I was Ms Parenthetical, it was irrevocable;

And all I got to do in jail was wail,wail, wail.

Then I summoned up the power of language and made an ally of it. I thought for a long time and finally realized there is only one thing worse than being parenthesized. And that was being deleted. Do I detect a third verse for my song in the making?

So I did what I had to do, baby
I deleted them with haste
I deleted them, baby–both of them–dragged them to the waste

I blocked them on my computer and then . . .
purged them from my mind . . .
That took a little longer, baby
But I was not to be left behind.
They call me Ms. Deletion,baby. I got a new name
I'm Ms. Deletion now, baby, I'm at the top of my game!

Paint on,
Depingo ... er ... um ... that's Ms. Deletion to some.

* Thanks to the late, great Otis Redding for his lyrics to Mr. Pitiful and inspiration for Ms. Parenthetical. The song can be heard ***here.***

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paradise Regained

GREAT TO BE BACK HOME with trowel in one hand, palette knife in the other, tending and painting the birds and beasts of Foxglove. It is so beautiful here, the first time I saw my mythical home I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. And now, I return from a brief visit to Hell–one always appreciates Heaven more after a stay in Hell.

A fabulous iMovie by the famous and ubiquitous videographer Amy Youngs captures my return to Heaven.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Postcard from the Sea of Life -Las Vegas


Miss you all, but having a perfectly decadent time on my own. I am the Queen of Hearts in Vegas. I even drink beer here, I fear. We are staying at the Hotel California, which I highly recommend because there are

Mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice.
We are all just prisoners here, of our own device
And in the master's chambers,
We gathered for the feast
We stabbed it with our steely knives,
But could not kill the beast. *

LV is the most salacious place in the Sea of Life that I've ever visited and I just love its gross indecency. You might as well throw away your watch. Eternity is the same as a moment here. There is no night or day, or even any timekeeping whatsoever–unless you think of the neon and fluorescent lights as the sun and the twinkling of the slot machines and the darkness when you pass out as night. Time both stands still and flies. You can be as self- indulgent and morally reprehensible as you want to be around the clock because there is no clock and nobody can watch you. Remember, you threw away your watch!

I know how Las Vegas came to be. It is not the way you think and probably saw in the movies, with some lame gangsters like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky developing it. That's strictly Hollywood. It was the Boss! No, not Bruce Springstein, but the Fallen Angel himself–Beelzebub!

Yes, the Prince of Darkness broke out of Hell and designed Las Vegas in his own image. It is his own little piece of real estate hell; he named it Las Vegas. After all, he couldn't very well call it Hell or mini-Hell or something like that, could he? No one would want to visit if he did. Besides, you are not tortured here as you would be in the original Hell. Rather, it serves as a training ground for all of us who are good candidates for Hell. The Great Tempter was thoughtful enough to provide every activity which appeals to our basest instincts, including drinking, gambling, lust, gluttony and avarice. The Devil wants you to enjoy your stay.

Oh hell, it's not that bad.

Paint on,

*Credit: Thanks to The Eagles for the lyrics.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Postcard from the Sea of Life - France

in a trance.

Now don't look askance
but I lost my underpants.
. . . Yeah, at a dance.

Still . . .

there's nothing I could do to enhance
my trip to France.

Avec toute mon affection,

P.S. Touched an escargot–
it was not that bad!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Postcard from the Sea of Life - Sky

HAVING A GREAT TIME! Wish you were here. I'm high in the sky today. It's 25 per cent cobalt/ 25 per cent manganese/ and 50 per cent white.

I tasted a cloud and it was delicious. It started out on the palate with a bouquet of marshmallow fluff, evidenced subtle undertones of cotton candy and had a very light finish.

It holds together well enough, though, so I made a soft sculpture from some unformed cloud that floated by.

I'm astonished looking around because there are so many sculptures up here.

God, I wonder who made them all!

Paint on,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Postcard from the Sea of Life -Butterflies


WOKE UP WITH BUTTERFLIES in my stomach this morning. Must have fallen in love with life. Always get butterflies when I fall in love. Does that ever happen to you? I didn't want them to stay in there–they were too fluttery and I wanted to see them, so I spread my bellybutton open and let them out.

They were so beautiful, I decided to wear them instead of my usual attire–jeans and t-shirt. I thought I looked very colorful.

When I went out, a couple of lepidopterists tried to catch them in their nets. This made me a little uneasy because the butterflies were my clothes. Then I got really nervous about it and got more butterflies in my stomach. I let them out and was once again well dressed.

Always get butterflies when I'm nervous. You?

Paint on,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gone Fishing

Dear Readers,

I HATE TO LEAVE YOU all just when we've become such good blogmates discussing art and life. I've had a wonderful time chatting with you these past months. Has anyone decided which we like better, art or life? Not very likely. That would be tantamount to deciding which we like better, blood or oxygen. Art and life are too interconnected–one cannot choose between them. We have to embrace both wholeheartedly.

Fun though this has been, I must now take my leave. Every Summer I go fishing–not for fish, but for the many esoteric, enlightening, exhilarating adventures the Sea of Life has to offer. I especially like to experience things I've never done before. Actually, now that I think about it, fishing in the Sea of Life is better than blood or oxygen. Everything in the Sea of Life is grist for my painting/writing mill. Some of the things I wish to experience on my sabbatical , in addition to writing my book, Depingo Ergo Sum and preparing for my October 12th solo show are:

Riding a zebra. In my entire life, I have never ridden a zebra. It's got to be easier than riding my favorite horse, the willful Freckles. That supercilious stallion used to intimidate me whenever I mounted him by turning his head slowly and irreverently while looking down at me as if I were addled. I suppose he thought he was too high class for mere riding, because he was a jumper. I tried to curry favor with him by whispering sweetly "We're going to have a nice, polite ride, right Freckles? And you're going to be a gentlehorse, and not throw me, bite me or crush my legs against any stone fences by cantering too close to them, right Freckles?" The look on his horsey face clearly said, "Yeah, right!"

But I digress. I am going to make a point, or should I say a stripe, of riding a zebra this month. It's written in black and white. I must do it. I've heard they gallop at a very fast clip, so we both might work up a sweat during the ride. Perhaps then I can experience another thing I've always wanted to do...

Shower under an elephant. That should be energy efficient, refreshing, and I might even get clean. At least my skin will look better than the elephant's. Then I'll be prepared t0...

Dance a pas de deux with an ostrich. I look forward to pirouetting en pointe in a feathered tutu and being swept up in adagio by an ostrich who is supporting my fragile dancer's body above his head with his wings as he gracefully turns and balances me. I've dreamed about doing this my entire life, but my mother would never let me. Then again, maybe I'll...

Go really wild and dive even farther into Photoshop which is just as exotic as the above when you consider my technical acumen. But catch a fish? Never.

I have a few words on the subject of fishing. First of all, it is quite an unsportsmanlike enterprise to pluck a fish out of its environment with a barbed hook through its lip. When I point this out to my fisherman friends, their stereotypical response is that fish don't feel pain. They often add that they throw them back after they catch them.

Depingo is not one to spoil fishermen's fun. I just want them to be more empathetic with their prey.
Let them imagine that they are walking down the street, going to work or picking up their girlfriend for a dinner date (which dinner I hope is not going to include a fish course.) While sauntering along, my fisherman friend comes upon a fat, lit Montecristo cigar or a slice of chocolate devil's food cake floating right under his nose. The aroma is to die for–and the fisherman may do just that. He lunges forward to get it into his mouth as fast as possible. He's hooked!

To see what this is like, pretend you've been hooked. The next thing you know, you are out of this world, transported to a higher plane inhabited by a more complex form of life, surrounded by air you can't breathe, with a sharp hook through your lip. You are punctured and bleeding, choking and heaving, flipping around because you can't breathe and are terrified by the alien appearance of the creature who hooked you. Are you going to be OK with it if he decides not to eat you and throws you back suffering from hypoxia and a lip with a hole in it? No! You are going to be furious and your girlfriend is going to be even angrier because you are now really late for your date. I say to the fishermen of the world: did you ever even consider that fish might have dates?

To rectify the sporting inequity of fishing, I have devised a new methodology that will make fishing more of a real contest. All you have to do to fish Depingo-fashion is to throw away your rod. Keep the line with the hook on the end of it, though. Next, attach another hook to the other end of the line. You should now have a length of line with a hook on each end. Hook one of the hooks through your own lip, put something that fish find delicious on the other hook and throw that one into the water. Oh, and don't use your hands; clasp them behind your back. If you get a bite, you must bring the fish in using only your cheek muscles. Then you and the fish will be evenly matched. It will be a battle of equals and you will be a true sportsman.

Or, you can skip the hook through your lip and do as I will be doing for the next few weeks– fishing in the Sea of Life. My mind, senses, toothbrush and laptop are already packed in my suitcase, which I've bound up with a chain of nerve synapses. I'm looking forward to catching many new experiences. I'm going to miss you, but I'll be back after labor day. Until then, I'll be keeping in touch via postcard! So watch for them on this blog.

Paint on,