Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hand Print Turkey

In gratitude for our bountiful harvest and in contemplation of the food we are about to enjoy I offer this poem by Judith Morely from the book Earth Prayers.

By what miracle
does this cracker
made from Kansas wheat,
this cheese ripened in French caves,
this fig, grown and dried near Ephesus,
turn into Me?
My eyes,
My hands,
My cells, organs, juices, thought?

Am I not then Kansas wheat
and French cheese
and Smyrna figs?
Figs, no doubt,
the ancient Prophets ate?

Judith Morley

Orca Holiday Cards For Sale!

Orca Mandala ~ Reproduction from Original Watercolor
by Peggy Sue McRae

This holiday card was designed by me to sell at The Whale Museum (hence the requisite charismatic megafauna). I placed the Orca inside of the Tao symbol of yin and yang thinking about their winter journey out into the ocean. The full title, Orca Mandala: Safe Journey Safe Return, wishes the whales well through their winter journey and looks forward to their safe return.

These cards will be available at The Whale Museum starting next week or you can purchase them directly from me. From me they are a $1.50 a card (with a $3.00 shipping charge if you'd like me to mail them to you). They $2.00 at the Whale Museum but when purchased at the Whale Museum they will help support Whale Museum programs. When purchased directly from me they will help me survive January and February when the Museum (my place of employment) is closed.

contact me through email:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rock n' Roll 4 Ever!

John Lennon ~ Beatles White Album Photo

John Lennon must have been rolling, maybe even rock n’ rolling in his grave this week. It seems the Vatican has just now found it in their smug, patronizing, holier-than-thou hearts to forgive him for saying in 1966 that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

What Lennon said was, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I do not know what will go first, rock n’ roll or Christianity… We’re more popular than Jesus now. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” This was said to a British journalist and friend. Months later the quote was picked up in the American Bible belt causing bonfires of Beatlemania. This on top of the frantic pace and screaming hysterical mobs led to the end of the Beatles live tours. Later Lennon wrote, “I always remember to thank Jesus for the end of my touring days."

Imagine ~ John Lennon with Yoko Ono

The Vatican condemned Lennon at the time but now say that Lennon’s comments were “showing off, bragging by a young English working class musician who had grown up in the age of Elvis Presley and rock and roll and had enjoyed unexpected success.” They dismiss Lennon’s comments as a youthful joke. But to anyone who has listened to the Imagine album as many times I have it’s no joke. As the title song says, “Imagine no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky.

So roll over Beethoven. Don’t underestimate the power of rock n’ roll. Lately I’ve been surfing the net to follow the exiled Tibetan Diaspora’s big gathering in India. The Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach is not working because the Chinese see no reason to concede anything. What gives me the most hope was finding an emerging Tibetan rock scene including, among others, Punkanana (Punk Girls) an all girl punk rock band inside of Chinese occupied Tibet. Rock n' Roll can be a potent non-violent cultural force. John Lennon wasn’t on Nixon’s enemies list for nothing.

Punkanana (Tibetan for Punk Girls) in Occupied Tibet

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Star Spangled Banner

Jake Shimabukuro at Wrigley Field

The Star Spangled Banner

Here's a song for Barack Obama and all who worked to get him elected. It is performed by Jake Shimabukuro, from Obama's home state of Hawaii. Shimabukuro is playing his Ukulele at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

On election night young Judy Moon Finn from Friday Harbor was dancing in the streets of Seattle with fellow students from the University of Washington. She told her Mom, my friend Therese, that as they moved out into the streets people came out of their houses, some people in pajamas, free drinks were liberally served and a whole crowd of people linked arms singing the Star Spangled Banner. Wow. It sounds a little bit different to me now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Inspired by The Whale Museum

Upper Window in The Whale Museum
(photoshop filtered photo)

When I’m in the process painting requires the same kind of concentrated focus that meditation does. When it is going well the passage of time disappears. The problem is that when I come out of my painting bliss state I realize, Oh shit! It’s past midnight and I never got around to that vicious to-do list that is still drumming its fingers impatiently and snorting.

The paintings I’m working on now are to enter in a juried art show celebrating Friday Harbor’s Centennial next year. They follow the criteria: Subject of the artwork must be within the historic district town limits of Friday Harbor.

Having lived and worked within the historic district of Friday Harbor most of my adult life my inspiration sprang unbidden from my working life. The paintings I’m working on are inspired by the Whale Museum, where I work.

The Whale Museum is in one of Friday Harbor’s historic treasures. The building was originally the Island’s Oddfellows Hall where my Dad was a member. What did they do here to attract all these whale bones? Without becoming a surrealist I’m looking for some of the Oddfellows mystique to come through in the work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Artist's Dilema

The Artist's Reality ~ Mark Rothko

We tend to think of Van Gogh as the quintessential artist who was a total failure in his lifetime only to be vindicated by history. Mark Rothko is another. His name and work is all over the place now but in his lifetime, though he did have some success, he was almost as wretched as Van Gogh. I am reading his book The Artist's Reality, compiled by his son from collected notes. Here is a quote from the book under the heading, The Artist's Dilema...

"What is the popular conception of the artist? Gather a thousand descriptions: the resulting composite is the portrait of a moron."

White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)
Mark Rothko, 1950

Mark Rothko committed suicide in 1966. In May 2007 his painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) sold for $72.8 million dollars at Sotheby's New York.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Painting: Is It Fun Yet?

Crow ~ Oil on Board ~ detail

I was down to the wire working on my thesis show in grad school when I went into the campus bookstore to buy a tube of paint. The cheerful clerk at the cash register ask me if I was painting. I said I was and she exclaimed "Oh, how fun!" This shocked me and I think I mumbled something like, "Uh, its way beyond fun at this this point".

I am an artist. I have my MFA degree framed and hanging on my wall just in case I forget. And I do forget because sometimes I feel like I am a clerk, a house cleaner, a dog sitter, a dishwasher or one of the many other things I have had do to pay the bills. Is being an artist fun? If I were not an artist on my days off from my day jobs I'd actually have real days off. As an artist, what would otherwise be days off are windows of opportunity to pursue my "true calling". Sometimes these opportunities are wasted doing the things most people do on their days off like getting the dishes done or doing the laundry or having a social life. If I do these things I don't get much painting done. And of course, I spend a crazy amount of time blogging and reading blogs.

If I'm blogging less right now it is because I'm painting more. If I could just give up the notion that I am an artist I might actually enjoy my days off. But somehow, I just can't totally give it up. Painting is often not valued as real work because it is suppose to be fun. Whose crazy idea that was I don't know. It can be very gratifying when it is going well. It can be hell when it isn't.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Life Imitates Art

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality,
but a hammer with which to shape it.”
Bertolt Brecht

Obama ~ Alex Grey

After eight years of vigorous opposition to the Bush administration and two years of increasingly obsessive support for Barack Obama suddenly Obama won and the pressure is released. My initial euphoria has given way to strange malaise and I have been adjusting to the new reality gently by finally catching up with the last two seasons of The West Wing.

When I began watching The West Wing it served as a soothing parallel universe, a happy fantasy with smart democrats in the White House. Now, finally, watching the last two episodes it seems more like a voodoo spell to really put smart democrats in the White House. Alan Alda who plays an elderly republican running for president against Jimmy Smits who plays the young Latino democrat were, according to a writer for the show, actually modeled on John McCain and Barack Obama. This was of course before anyone knew they would be our candidates. I heard Alda and Smits interviewed on NPR recently and Smits said it was "a little spooky" sometimes how reality ended up mirroring the show.

Alan Alda, Bradley Whitford and Jimmy Smits
on NBC's "The West Wing

Friday, November 7, 2008

Art and the Obama Campaign

Yes We Did ~ Shepard Fairey is offering the above image as a free sticker, "These commemorative stickers mark Barack Obama's historic victory and were designed by groundbreaking artist Shepard Fairey—the same artist who designed the world-famous, iconic "Hope" poster for Obama. We're also offering 5,000 numbered, limited edition full-sized prints of this work. They will be available on Saturday at 12:30 p.m."

Link to: Free Yes We Did Sticker

Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey developed his iconic style as a contemporary urban artist yet what strikes me most about his work is its legacy in the silkscreen posters produced by WPA artists during Roosevelt's New Deal. If the medium is the message the strong images created by layers of bold color together with the nostalgia of the WPA artist programs generate a potent and progressive visual message.

Victory by Shepard Fairey ~ Victory Concerts WPA Poster

Link to: Posters from the WPA, Collection Highlights, The Library of Congress

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fashion and the First Lady Elect

OK, sure, there is the economy, the wars and a planet in peril but let's get down to the real important stuff. What is Michelle Obama wearing? Her election night dress has received mixed reviews:

Favorable: Virginia Smith of Vogue magazine, said, "I think she looked great. ... It shows she has confidence and knows what she likes."

Michelle Malia and Sasha Obama Election Eve

Not So Favorable: "It was brave and bold of her, but I didn't like the dress. She looks like a human lava lamp," said stylist and fashion personality Robert Verdi.

The dress on the runway ~ The dress on Michelle
by designer Narciso Rodriguez

Perplexed: "Never one to play it safe fashionably, Michelle Obama can go from fabulous to well ... that's the risk you take as a fashion risk taker". The Black Snob

Blogger google said...

For what its worth, I think she looked hot.

November 7, 2008 9:26 AM

Blogger Peggy Sue said...

Me too! In fact I think she would look great in a flour sack but I liked the dress. There are many reasons why I welcome our new first family. Watching the style of this gorgeous woman is the icing on the cake.

November 7, 2008 9:46 AM

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Celebration!

As news broke last night that Obama won the presidency people cheered and danced in the streets. Crowds cheered with exuberance in Chicago, New York and Seattle to name only a few American cities. All over the world people celebrated the end of the Bush era and the beginning of a new and hopeful day. Said Washington State’s Senator Patty Murray, “Party tonight because tomorrow the work begins”. I think we are ready to take our country back. Let the healing begin.

Barack and Michelle Obama Last Night

Cheering Crowds in Seattle

In Kogelo, Kenya Obama's step-grandmother Sarah Obama

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Obama Wins!!!
Our beautiful new first family

The Crowd in Chicago

From Sea to Shining Sea


In California

In Pennsylvania

In Florida

Election Day!

The Economist's
Global Electoral College: What if the whole world could vote.
See what the rest of the world thinks.
And be sure to VOTE!

Barack & Michelle Obama cast their votes in Chicago

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Drums and Dogs For Obama

Singing Bowl

It's been a long campaign not to mention a long eight years. Buddhists for Obama and friends met at South Beach to generate some positive energy for Obama, the nation and the world.

Kate and Gretchen Om for Obama

After a short silent meditation Kate started us chanting with an OM chant. Wendy recited a Tibetan Buddhist prayer and mantra. We drummed and chimed and rattled and rang and the singing bowl sang.

Dogs & Drums for Obama