Thursday, May 31, 2012

Art of the Moment: Heart Strung

Original Sketch of Heart Strung by Mateo 2012
I have always been fascinated by illustrious anatomical elements of the human body and the roles they play as interpretive symbols in writing, visual arts and music. I have explored these in the past and am currently working on a series of works  based upon the human heart in different allegorical scenarios. I did the sketch above in late January while feeling very weak and lousy health-wise. In my physical sickness, my mind/soul/heart wanted to be free from its fleshy binding. The idea of an industrious heart being tied to a scape of barrenness is the resulting idea. There are other elements involved, but I like to keep some of my ideas close to self and allow the viewer to decode and interpret for him-/herself. A detail of the nearly complete acrylic painting appears below. I intentionally kept a spartan color palette and in a darker range in order to be able to convey an inner luminosity. I hope you enjoy this little insight into my methods of madness and creative process, for expounding is not something I have ever particulary been comfortable doing. But, that is one of the purposes for this blog: to unbind my mind and thoughts from the sometimes constricting, self-imposed boxed-in life experience.

Detail: Heart Strung acrylic on panel by Mateo 2012

Remembering Uncle Skeet


His real name was Gregory. We called him "Uncle Skeet." The origin of this moniker and, well, most of the details of his life are sketchy at best and mostly unknown to me. He wasn't even in direct relation with the rest of us, but in my family, that seemed to matter less or not at all.  In fact, extracting any details about my family's history is and has always been an act of futility. Many of those with first hand knowledge of these events have long been passed or have rewritten such memories for themselves in a way that is conducive to more palatable remembering.

The onset of the Memorial Day weekend prompted me on this trail of remembering. I am fairly certain he served in one of the world wars, probably the latter.  I just remember him being a permanent fixture in the family homestead, cared for by the matriarch, my grandmother. Her life is one chock full of strays and sordid tales all her own.  She is one fascinating lady and I mourn not being able to spend time in her presence as I once did. But, that is another story for another time.

My memories of Uncle Skeet primarily consist of him occupying a certain chair in a certain corner in front of a certain ceiling-height plastic plant. I spent the majority of my summer days at my granny's working the gardens and their abundant provisions, feeding the chickens and experiencing various other sorts of small farm life details. Uncle Skeet was always there, in his always place resting from what I can only imagine was a long and tiring life. We always greeted him with awe and respect as children are brought up to do. He wasn't one much for words, especially when he was behind an oxygen mask for the latter days of his life's journey. He gave us cough drops as if they were candy and we took them gratefully, realizing even then, a gift from someone with few monetary resources was a great treasure.  I secretly thought of his being there was like having a living, breathing Abraham Lincoln in our lives.

He was there, in his chair, for Christmases, Easters, and every gathering that dotted the early years of my childhood. There was always a new robe or pair of slippers or some sort of comfort offering for him on these special days. I hope he felt the belonging we felt with him there. I cannot imagine my childhood without him.

In whispers and shushings throughout my young years, I ascertained a few colorful details about this talis-man. I heard he had shot a man, perhaps in self defense, perhaps not, and had served time in prison. He was a veteran and a chance few away from the always place encounters with this man occurred when he spent time in the VA hospital in Biloxi, Mississippi. These trips were enigmatic for me because the trip to the place of suffering was punctuated by the promise of a Gulf Coast seafood meal while in these foreign climes. I was a wee knee-high lad during the end of his life, so the remembering is merely a series of events, puncturing the dark murky sky of the past like ominous constellations.

Then, he was gone. Empty chair, no oxygen tank, no more mentholated candies for us kids. No more trips to the hospital or nursing home. Just a trip to the local funeral home, church and graveyard. And waiting. Waiting for the VA to send his hard-earned painted gold and black marker. If I remember correctly, I think there was something amiss with the first and another period of waiting for them to make it right again.

Although my memories are anemic and paltry, they are fond rememberings of a robust and true picaresque character.

 Uncle Skeet has long been gone for many years, but he will never be forgotten.

*the picture at the top is not an actual picture of my Uncle Skeet, but one I found while perusing B&W photos online and the visage of the man jolted my memories of the scruffy, time-worn face and attending eyes of the true Uncle Skeet.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Daily Art: (Extremely Stylized) Self Portrait

Jack of Secrets & Sorrows by Mateo

I did this painting a few years ago as part of a solo show called "House of Cards" at what was then known as the Chesser Gallery in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Creating art amongst Mobile's denizens and fellow artists is a period of my life I will never forget. Someday, I hope to recreate and live another personal renaissance there. For now, the road and my memories are my home. This painting, represents, to me, the artist as self and the burning passions that drive me. The Élan vital, the Life-driving force for meaning, substance and sustenance and being of the world and transcending its bounds to become a free-willing, full-of-faith seeker of Truth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Escaping the Trailer Park

Going to Refresh My Texas-Parched Soul for a Serendipitous Few Days in the South
Well, life in Texas is as per usual: Hot and Dry(already!) Packing up the truck for a few days' break to the Southland. It will be lovely to see my Mom and savor her home-cooking. Glad for the unexpected chance to get away for a few days. I am a little apprehensive about leaving the garden, though. But, I have almost mastered the art of preparing for such excursions. Alas, I'll still miss it. Have been working against time and trailer-park internet interruptions, and thus, won't be making any posts to my blog until I return. Namaste, Friends.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Art&Thought: The "Wonderings" of Cain

Momentary expression of profound cynicism: "When we ALL become celebrities, who will be our fans?; when we ALL become gods, who, then, will be left to follow us?"-Mateo
Cain by Mateo ca. 2005

Monday: Just Like Me

I Sure Hope the Bees Spread the Pollen from this One- It's a Fighter!

This is a picture I took at dusk yesterday of a sunflower that I inadvertently, and then adamantly, nurtured since last Fall. It is a simple Sunflower, born of a birdseed that got picked over and ultimately deposited by the many birds(and squirrels) that forage my garden for the seeds I put there for them.

This particular plant began to grow near the beginning of the very mild and rainy winter we had here in Texas. It seemed to die away and go into dormancy during the difficult season.

Just like me.

I first noticed it again when it suddenly resumed a surge in growth in early Spring. It was quite shabby and Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree-esque and I was offended it was marring the still bare architectural limbs of my budding fig. (I was irrationally angry and offended by a lot of things last Fall.) So I transplanted it and it didn't take kindly to the good-intentioned change. It wilted and refused to stand proud like any self-respecting Sunflower should.

Just like me.

I went through some tough times with my health in the next several weeks and stayed in bed for most of them. I felt sapped and weak and longed to relish my favorite season, Spring, that was spreading its warmth and breezes just outside my door. At my first chance, I ventured out to check on the compact container garden I keep, wondering precisely about that very Sunflower. I expected the worst. I really couldn't muster hope for any other result. But...It was alive, thirsty and hungry, but alive!

Just like me.

So, I made it a daily goal to get myself out of bed, dressed, and vertical long enough to check on that flower. This became a ritual of strength, a personal challenge to keep life in something, this stupid inanimate reject random plant. I was secretly obsessed and felt a little embarrassed by that. I was running fevers much of this time and my body was fighting and here I was mentally begging this plant NOT TO DIE.

Just like me.

The Sunflower soon became proud, stout and began to follow the sun each day. It survived a plague of silk worms that fell from the budding trees as the spring unfolded.(Some of my other plants were not so lucky.) It stretched and grew taller and began to bud. I was excited to see that this haggard plant would achieve its ultimate goal: to bloom and to spread its genetic vigor to thrive. And, in the last few days it has begun to unfurl its petals and give the world a full on view of its face. It's still quite imperfect and scarred from its long journey, but it is here and in its own way, it is beautiful.

Just Like Me.

*This is quite a rambling share, I know. But there's a parable or some kernel of truth in it-dammit! Now back to the garden...Let's hope this goes well, I have FOF disorder: Frequent Over-Fertilizing. Namaste, Friends.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Sundays are my favorite days because I get to do those things I like to do that renew my spirit, soothe my soul and heal my body. All this helps me to be a better person during the week. So, it's like my sacred day. I haven't attended a formal church service in several years, but that's another story for another time.

What the Start of a Typical Sunday Looks Like at The Love Loft on Wheels

 Lately, I spend most of my days alone, except for Roz, my dog. She is very much favored of Steve, my other half. She loves me and I, her, and we share some wonderful moments together. But... He's the FUN Dad because he likes taking her on long, meandering walks to meet her friends at the dog park. She is more socialized than I these days. She likes people and interaction far more than I do.

 Facing an illness does this to a person. It sequesters one to their own self-imposed prison dwelling, hospital, or hospice. Otherwise, it's just awkward and uncomfortable and a constant reminder we all are on a path of physical demise. One cannot blame the otherwise healthy people for being genetically designed to be repelled by sickness and death. Again, that's another long, sordid story for another indeterminable time. I'm just not ready or healthy enough yet.

This is ROZ. You're Going to Read A LOT about HER!

 But, come Sunday, we are all three together, at the same place, at the same time. Very much a communion and gathering of three beings trying the best they can to hang on while this rock keeps spinning on its axis.  Life, Work and Family hover in our all-too amateur jugglers' hands and we are constantly trying (and failing often) to not drop one of those bundles of things of importance. Add chronic and terminal illness to this game, you're going to have to drop something sometime. Keeping the dream aloft, the things that matter, lest they fall away and become shattered relics of life gone by, wasted, worked away. If there is one thing I have learned from this harrowing season of illness is: A Life doesn't have to be complicated to matter.- I'm still chewing on this one and relishing its simple profound flavor.

HOLY TRINITY by Mateo 2012

So, on Sundays, we come together. No agenda, no awkward silences.
This is so because this is our sacred.
We communicate in hushed murmurings sometimes punctuated by bright brassy laughter.
We draw nourishment from fresh fare whimsically mated out of reverence for the nonchalantness of the day. Our table is a day-long smörgåsbord, just smaller proportions.
The bed rarely gets made on these holiest of days.

 No rules, no lofty rites, no shame, and no guilt.

 And, We are Okay with Being Okay with That.

Namaste, Friends!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Night Art

OutCast/CastOut by Mateo ca. 2005(?)

Random Art of Mine

Cheap Key-Breaking Lock and Therefore Destroyed

My First Post from FB

Me and My Man-He's on the Left

Too Much Talking. Too much Typing.

I took a break from FB for awhile for several reasons. And, I really didn't miss it. Now, don't get me wrong, I thrive on all things posted that make me go "LOL" and "WTF" and "awesomesauce." What I DID miss were the PEOPLE. I was simply exhausted and being clever online is an exhausting full-time job. I gave up my REAL-life job to recuperate mostly from an illness that went simply from manageable to acute in a span of a few short months. Then I returned...<TADA!> and am slowly getting my strength back, but my tolerance for long-winded embroilments isn't as hearty as it once was.

 Maybe I should take up drinking again. (Update: I did)

More Typing. More Talking.

I do have a life outside of FB. Not much of one, but it's real and it's mine.

And, YOU see much of it right here online.

There are some things I hold sacred.

My husband, for one. (Yes! I do have one.) And, our family, which includes Roz. And, yes, we're married. No, we don't have a piece of paper from a city hall somewhere stating such, but, trust, we are very much each one half of the other. To have, to hold, to laugh. In sickness and in health, and trust, he has loved me through more sickness in the last few months than health. He was watching me die. And it hurt him deeply to feel so helpless.

So, while we all get embroiled in the politics of the day and squabble over word choice and what should be civil rights for ALL, I am liberating the word "marriage" from the naysayers. I'm not going to add "gay" or "same-sex" to it, I'm just going to live it and relish all the joy it brings.

[Pause for you to check to see if your marriage is still intact.]

It is?


More Talking. More Typing

*I live in America and I am still afraid to press <post> because the fear remains.

The Beginning of the Ending

The Beginning of the Ending

This is the initial spark of what I hope becomes, not just the rantings and ravings of a middle-aged mind, a stream of consciousness that hopefully gives a certain perspective of life. Journey on.