I managed to catch CBS News Sunday Morning today and I am glad that I did. Pete Townsend, John Lennon's art work, and a story on Winlsow Homer had me riveted to my television. It was the Winslow piece that inspired this Halloween Blog Post - his painting studio in Prouts Neck, Maine is open to the public for the first time. He worked there from 1893 till his death in 1910. During the segment CBS flashed a number of Winslow's paintings, including one that gave me pause, The Gulf Stream.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade this picture was in my Reading Book. I spent hours and hours staring at it while I should have been reading. I was at once horrified at the fate of this poor man, yet I couldn't take my eyes away. His boat is being tossed around willy nilly on the ocean waves while at least four sharks circle him. The mast is broken and all hope seems lost. On the horizon it looks like a water tornado is on it's way too, as if all of this wasn't enough to despair over. A large part of my fascination was the incredulity I felt in being allowed to see this painting. It was one of several paintings seemingly randomly placed in the middle of my reading book, as if to say "we can't have a book without a few pictures to look at". They had nothing to do with any of the stories I was required to read,. As far as I could tell, it was merely a chance to get a little bit of Humanities into the curriculum. And then a few pictures away from my impending shark attack picture there was this gem from Bosch to gaze upon.
Keep in mind I was only 12 years old when this hit me. Who on earth decided what pictures to include in our reading books? I realize now that this painting was so horrific to me that I never was able to look at it in it's entirety. I could only focus on portions of it at a time, and usually got no further than the bottom right hand corner. Floating bodies, spears and skeleton soldiers - that was enough for me! Again I was terrified and yet couldn't take my eyes off of it. Little is known of Bosch, but he was often referred to as the "inventor of monsters and chimeras", and his work directly reflected the religious morals of his time. I cannot for the life of me think of any of the other paintings that would have appeared in my reading book. They were probably fine works of art, but thirty some years later is only the frightening pictures that I can recall.
We have had another submission for the Jandek Cover Art competition from Joe (Hip To The Fry) Tougas. He felt it to be "Very Jandekian", and I would agree. Don't forget that the contest ends October 18th. We will pick out three favorites and declare the winners on Friday October 19th. Winners will get a Shuffle Function t-shirt and Jandek CD. Scroll on down the blog to find out more information on the contest.