Dancing With the Dead

“He was in Guanajuato, Mexico, he was a writer, and tonight was the Day of the Dead ceremony. He was in a little room on the second floor of a hotel, a room with wide windows and a balcony that overlooked the plaza where the children ran and yelled each morning. He heard them shouting now. And this was Mexico’s Death Day. There was a smell of death all through Mexico you never got away from, no matter how far you went. No matter what you said or did, not even if you laughed or drank, did you ever get away from death in Mexico. No car went fast enough. No drink was strong enough.”

—- Ray Bradbury, The Candy Skull

Molly’s at the Market, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

Molly’s at the Market, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

Getting a Ross

“Sergeant Spearman, you are positively glutinous with self-approbation. You might as well speak out.”

—-Alfred Hitchcock, Frenzy

For several years now, each February or so, I have travelled down to the Kettle Art Gallery in Deep Ellum for their For the Love of Kettle affair. This is a “competitive shopping event” where two hundred or so works of art, all 8×11, are displayed on the walls. About three hundred people are unleashed through the opening doors at once and grab the paintings they want. If you desire something by a particular artist, you have to be quick, decisive, and efficient. I wrote about it three years ago – you can read about it here.

One of the artists that I have always wanted to get at the show was Richard Ross. He is a very well-known local artist, with a distinctive personal style. His murals are found on walls in Deep Ellum and other spots.

Richard Ross mural in the Deep Ellum Art Park (detail)

Richard Ross mural in the Deep Ellum Art Park (detail)

Richard Ross Column Deep Ellum Art Park, Dallas, Texas (Click to Enlarge)

Richard Ross Column
Deep Ellum Art Park, Dallas, Texas
(Click to Enlarge)

In the years past, I was always too late to get a Ross, even though he usually donated a handful of works to the show. I always wait in line for an hour before the opening (I’m usually fifth in line or so) but I get overexcited and confused and fail to grab the good work fast (it’s OK, everything at the show is cool – I probably should buy something at random). His stuff always sells immediately and I took too much time (around thirty seconds) making up my mind. By the time I made it to the table with my list of numbers his were gone. This year I was extra quick and decisive – at my turn only two of his three were purchased. So I bought his Tethered to an Upside Down Giant.

Tethered to an Upside Down Giant by Richard Ross

Tethered to an Upside Down Giant
by Richard Ross

I like the little drawing on the back of my painting.

I like the little drawing on the back of my painting.

Now, months later, I saw that the Kettle Arts Gallery was having a show, Hireath, of paintings by Richard Ross and Jessie Sierra Hernandez. The opening was on Thursday night, which is really tough for me. I’m exhausted at the end of each work day, but I try to do what I can – life is too short. I finished up at work and caught the DART train downtown. I fortified myself with a cold wheat beer at Braindead Brewing and walked across Main Street to Kettle Art.

Dry Hopped Wheat beer from Braindead Brewing in Deep Ellum

Dry Hopped Wheat beer from Braindead Brewing in Deep Ellum

The show was positively glutinous. Kettle Art is such a crackerjack place.

I talked to Richard Ross for a minute, he said the characters in his painting are “Keyholes” – I suppose that is a term that can represent a limited view into their souls.

From the Internet: The “keyhole” figures represent the locked inner conscience we have in our public appearance. Basically the “keyhole” says that there’s more inside than just the facade, and it’s protected. Some of these figures will appear two faced to show more complexity in the character.

Richard Ross and some of his work, Kettle Art Gallery

Richard Ross and some of his work, Kettle Art Gallery

I shuffled around the gallery several times, ogling the art. I am usually good with my lifelong poverty, except when I’m visiting art galleries. I have this fantasy where I strut around with a big douchebag expression on my face braying, “I’ll take this… and this… and this.” Alas, it is not to be.

In addition to the paintings in his familiar style he also had some interesting early works and some smaller paintings.

The little ones were really nice – the ink lines gave them a strong graphical emphasis.

But what I really liked was a series of 12 medium-sized artworks, arranged in a grid. These were framed by random smears of painted color – precious views into a hidden world or a different dimension. They shared the strong lines of the small works, but the extra bit of size allowed them additional layers of complexity. Each one told a little bizarre story. Actually each one tells hundreds of little stories – different for every person that sees them.

Does this make sense? I’m afraid you’ll have to go down there and see for yourself (the show is open until September 17). I wished I could slide out the cash and buy the lot of those mediums – display them on my humble wall like they were at the gallery.

I didn’t stay long – it had been a long day and I was fading fast. It was a short walk through the dark to the train station and the ride back home.

Accept the Inferno and Become Part of It

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”
― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Mural Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Mural
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

C-Beams Glitter In the Dark Near the Tannhäuser Gate

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.
—-Roy Batty, Blade Runner

(click to enlarge) Mural, Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

(click to enlarge)
Mural, Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

Mural, covered by "For Rent" sign Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Mural, covered by “For Rent” sign
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

I Destroy Them

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them…. I destroy them.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

(click to enlarge) Mural, Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

(click to enlarge)
Mural, Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

To Him She Seemed So Beautiful

“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Mural Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Mural
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas