Saturday, November 28, 2015

Places I'm Visiting: Santa Rosa Farmers' Market (November 28, 2015)

I visited the farmers' market at the Veteran's Building in Santa Rosa today, today being Saturday. I had thought it might be very busy with people in the area from out of town for the Thanksgiving Holiday, but it turned out to be fairly quiet. There was a lot of beautiful fruit on display and for sale. If the day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday," I wonder what the following Saturday should be called? "Black Saturday"? I imagine the stores were still busy with shoppers, but the market was the extent of my shopping for the holiday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Miscellaneous: Autumn in Wine Country (November 25, 2015)

I took a drive through wine country today that ranged from Healdsburg in the north to Glen Ellen in the south. It was a beautiful autumn day. The vines are golden and red. The air was clear and cool. Autumn in wine country.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Art I'm Making: When Lingering Dissatisfaction Prompts Action--Reworked Collages

Someone once said a work of art is finished when it stops bothering you. There's some truth to that. Generally, when I finish a collage, I've come to that point--a point of satisfaction with a kind of dynamic stasis. When you can look at a piece and it's exciting but it doesn't ask for more, you know it's good and that it's finished. Sometimes, however, I call a piece finished and sign it when I'm almost satisfied. I may make this compromise because of mental fatigue. I will often try to convince myself such a piece is both finished and good while something inside quietly insists I'm wrong and that it's not time to give up and move on. Yet, I do make that error from time to time.

Once in a while, although rarely, I look back on these pieces and discover that my doubts were unfounded. They soon appear different and settle comfortably into the category of finished work. A piece with real shortcomings continues to bother me, however, and eventually to annoy me deeply. Recently I decided to purge my collage work of two pieces that, in retrospect, were subpar. Before making any new work, I decided to rework the two pieces that disturbed my sleep. The results are pictured here. I've noted on the backs of the mats that the collages were completely reworked in November 2015. Little remains of the original images, but I've left the number sequence unchanged because the new versions have emerged from the original pieces.

The upper image is Untitled Collage No. 62 (Santa Rosa), originally "finished" in August 2014; acrylic monoprint, graphite, collage; image size 11.0 x 11.3cm, matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse, signed on the mat. All that remains of the original is the partial indigo circles with graphite lines through the negative space between them.

The lower image is Untitled Collage No. 97 (Santa Rosa), originally "finished" in April 2015; acrylic monoprint, found paper, collage; image size 12.1 x 15.8cm, matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse, signed on the mat. Virtually nothing of the original remains here except the orange and deep blue strip at lower right, but, again, I've kept the number sequence intact for the reason noted above.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, visit my collage website at

Rain: Light Rain Overnight (November 23-24, 2015)

Light rains overnight left 0.1 inches in the rain gauge this morning. Not much, but every little bit helps the drought-stressed plants. That brings our total so far for the 2015-2016 rain year (calculated from October 1 2015 through September 30 2016) to 1.35 inches.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Food I'm Eating: Warm Olive and Marcona Almond Salad with Mozzarella

The version shared with me says "Best eaten informally standing in the kitchen before dinner is served, or sitting around a coffee table. It is particularly good with chilled Champagne or rich, dry sherry, like Oloroso or Palo Cortado. It's most successfully enjoyed served without plates or silverware in a big flat serving platter, right from the pan." It also admonishes "No silverware!" The idea was to use the bread (see below) to pick up the food with and to encourage conversation at the start of a party, but many at the gathering I attended found it easier to use a utensil--namely a fork. I will share the proper attribution for this recipe as soon as I can track it down. I record the recipe here because, if I don't, I'll lose it.


1 cup canola oil
½ cup peeled garlic cloves
1 garlic bulb, cut in half
1 fresh serrano chile cut in half lengthwise
2 pints assorted PITTED olives--a variety of colors and flavors recommended
1½ cups Marcona almonds or whole blanched skinless almonds
2 small jars marinated artichoke hearts with their oil
1 tbsp. good red wine vinegar
8 oz small-size fresh mozzarella cheese, drained, at room temperature, Or larger mozzarella cut into smaller pieces.
4 oz. Manchego cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
4 oz. Gruyere, or any other similarly textured cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 basket cherry tomatoes
1 head Belgian endive, leaves separated, then cut in half
Black pepper
1  cup whole parsley leaves
1 cup basil leaves, torn
Zest of one lemon


In a small saucepan, sauté the peeled garlic cloves in the canola oil until golden brown, stirring often--about 5 minutes. Remove the cloves and transfer them to a paper towel. Reserve the garlic oil.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add three Tbsp. of the garlic oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place the garlic cut sides of the garlic bulb down into the pan and sear for three to four minutes, add the chile halves and continue to sauté until the chiles are brown, being careful not to burn them.

Add the olives and almonds and continue to sauté until hot all the way through--three to four minutes more--tossing often.

Add the cherry tomatoes, the artichoke hearts and all of their oil and cook for another minute or two, stirring or tossing continuously until the tomatoes are warmed through and beginning to swell. Add the vinegar and lemon zest and stir well.

Add the hard cheeses and continue to toss until they begin to melt.

Remove from the heat and add the mozzarella balls all at once. Stirring or tossing well. Stir in the parsley, basil, and endive leaves and season with pepper.

Turn out the salad into a large serving platter and serve immediately with rustic bread, cut into thick chunks. Serves 8-10.

Miscellaneous: San Francisco City Hall Lit with the Colors of France (November 18)

I attended a San Francisco Symphony concert on November 18, at Davies Symphony Hall. Diagonally across the street from the concert hall, City Hall was lit with the colors of France in recognition of the attacks in Paris earlier in the week. The concert was a recital by Leif Ove Andsnes. He played music by Sibelius, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Miscellaneous: Tricycle Sailors

The mistakes made by voice recognition software (which I sometimes use in my job as a translator) are mostly annoying. Once in a while, however, the software makes an intriguing substitution. Today I got "tricycle sailors." I like the image.

What I actually said was "triacetyl cellulose."

I did an image search on Google using the words "tricycle sailor." I found tricycle sailors. Little boys in sailor suits riding tricycles seems to have been a thing. Who knew?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rain: 0.3 Inches Overnight on November 14

It rained last night here in the middle of the night. I didn't hear anything, but I had emptied the rain gauge and this morning there was evidence of rain and 0.3 inches of new precipitation in the rain gauge. That brings our total so far for the 2015-2016 rain year (calculated from October 1 2015 through September 30 2016) to 1.25 inches. That's something, but we're well behind the historical average for November 15, which is 4.05 inches.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 119 (Santa Rosa)

Another new collage, this one using some of the newest monoprints I've made. The linear textures are the result of gently rubbing paper laid over a thin layer of paint with a high-tech baren. The paint is rolled out on a sheet of glass with a brayer. The traditional Japanese baren is a coil of hemp rope on a wood support overlaid with a bamboo leaf. my baren is two arrays of small ball bearings embedded in a pair of perforated plexiglass discs. Used just so, it transfers delicate parallel lines to the paper. I've used sheets with these line patterns to contrast texturally with sheets of more solid color, creating a dynamic counterpoint.

Untitled Collage No. 119 (Santa Rosa). November 11, 2015. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 18.8 x 19cm. Matted to 20 x 16 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rain: A Little More Rain (November 9, 2015)

We had a little rain overnight and off and on in the morning today. We'd received about 0.3 inches by the end of the day, when things cleared up. That brings our total for the 2015-2016 rain year (October to September) to 0.95 inches so far, which is below the historical average. Waiting for El Niño...

Art I'm Making: New Collage (November 7, 2015)

I've just finished a new collage, drawing on a large group of new monoprinted sheets I've made, this time using a roller to roll out the paint onto my glass plate rather than spreading the paint with a brush. Using the roller creates a different kind of texture. I've used mostly Prussian blue and violet shades. This latest collage uses these new sheets but also some of the orange sheets I made last month during the Sonoma County Art Trails open studio event.

This is Untitled Collage No. 118 (Santa Rosa). November 7, 2015. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint on paper, graphite, collage. Image size 11.1 x 13cm. Matted to  11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rain: The 2015-2016 Rain Season--Drizzle, but It's a Start

We've finally had a little rain today. It's been a light drizzle, but it's continued much of the day. There was 0.05 inches in the rain gauge earlier. I'm hoping to find considerably more than that in the gauge tomorrow morning.

[Update: Yes, 0.65 inches in the rain gauge--the first real rain of the 2015-2016 rain year. That brings our total so far to 1.15 inches using a rain year from July 1, 2015 through June 30 2016--which has been traditional here for decades. It's just come to my attention, however, that official totals are shifting to a rain year that runs from October 1 through the following September 30. Using the new rain year, this would be the first rain of the 2015-2016 season, and our total would therefore be 0.65 inches.]

Books I'm Reading: Wood

Harvey Green's Wood: Craft, Culture, History (Penguin, 2006) is a detailed cultural history of wood that touches also on the biology of trees and the physics of wood, but mostly considers how wood has provided for mankind since ancient times. It dramatically demonstrates the pervasiveness and importance of wood in almost every sphere of human life until very recently, when plastics and other synthetic materials have replaced wood in many applications. At the same time, it demonstrates just how much wood the Earth has lost to human consumption, particularly for fuel, for the construction of dwellings, for ships, and for containers (most especially, barrels). Refreshingly wide-ranging, the book recognizes the importance of wood to cultures from around the world and the contributions of these cultures to woodworking and carpentry. Word geeks and Scrabble fans will enjoy it for the large number of obscure words for woodworking tools mentioned. Educational and entertaining.  

Art I'm Making: Two More Collages

These are the last of the collages I made during and just after the recent Sonoma County Art Trails open studio event using some new papers I've made in browns, oranges, and pinks. They are Untitled Collage No. 116 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 117 (Santa Rosa), both from the third week of October.

No. 116 (upper image) uses paper made by monoprinting off a sheet of glass that I deliberately left uncleaned from the print that preceded it. I like the map-like effect the overlap of colors created. October 22, 2015. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 17.1 x 17.6cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

No. 117 (lower image) is a very small piece, less than 2 x 3 inches, using some scraps of the new papers and bits and pieces from older work. October 23, 2015. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 6 x 7cm. Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, visit my collage website at

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Books I'm Reading: Gut Feelings

I picked up this slim volume used somewhere. I liked the cover, and my theory is that Penguin never publishes a bad book, so I bought it for a dollar or so. A short book and a quick read, but one that I enjoyed. Author Gerd Gigerenzer argues that sometimes heeding gut feelings yields a better result than a decision based on hard information. While that may feel right (we have gut feelings even about gut feelings), this book is interesting for its attempt to present data that support his conclusion that too much information in some situations leads to worse decisions than decisions made on instinct. Sometimes, it seems, it's better to rely on what he calls our "intelligent unconscious" to make quick decisions than it is to think things through. Recommended. Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, Penguin, 2008.

Art I'm Making: More Recent Work

Here's some more collage work using the brown, orange and pink papers I've made recently. This is Untitled Collage No. 115 (Santa Rosa). It uses a speckled orange sheet but also some old indigo paper and a remnant of the sheet of antique silver leaf a fellow artist recently gave me. I've allowed a flap of the blue at the bottom to ride on top of the paper underneath it to give an overlapping effect with a shadow.

Untitled Collage No. 115 (Santa Rosa). Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. October 20, 2015. Image size 6.8 x 9.8cm. Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed and dated on the reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Books I'm Reading: Two Years Before the Mast

I can't remember when I picked up a used copy of Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s Two Years Before the Mast (Penguin Classics, 1981). I don't remember exactly why I bought it either, except that I've always enjoyed 19th century maritime literature. Dana's is a non-fictional account of two years working on American merchantmen in the 1830s--but close enough. It's been on my bookshelf for at least a few years. Recently I read it, and I'm glad I did.

The book paints a vivid picture of life on board ship in the early 1800s, specifically, on a vessel whose business it was to collect cowhides from the West Coast of the US and transport them around Cape Horn to the US East Coast (where they mostly became shoes). It paints a picture of pre-Gold Rush coastal California--when San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and other cities were tiny Mexican villages (Dana Point, near Los Angeles today, was named for the author). Unlike the protagonists in so much literature about life on the oceans, Dana is not running away from anything; he sees his time at sea as a temporary separation from civilization. Dana is very much focused on getting back to life in Boston and afraid that a delay in his return will cause him to be so deeply changed by life at sea that he'll become unable to go back.  

Art I'm Making: More New Collage Work

During the 2015 Sonoma County Art Trails open studio event (always the middle two weekends in October) I created several demonstration sheets of paper using browns and oranges and pinks. These made it into the work I did during the event. This collage is very simple, but I like its quiet dignity.

Untitled Collage No. 114 (Santa Rosa). October 11, 2015. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image size 16.3 x 17cm. Matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed on reverse. Signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Music I'm Listening To: Christian Tetzlaff with Susanna Mälkki Conducting the San Francisco Symphony

I attended the Friday, October 16 San Francsico Symphony performance at Davies Symphony Hall. On the program titled "Russian Masterpieces" were Mussorgsky (orch. Shostakovich)
Dawn on the Moscow River from Khovanshchina, Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5.  Guest conductor Susanna Mälkki led the orchestra. Christian Tezlaff was the soloist in the Shostakovich concerto. Mälkki was in control throughout, delivering a good, precise reading of the Prokofiev. I especially enjoyed the second movement. Tetzlaff was wonderful, going at the concerto with great energy. An excellent way to begin the 2015-2016 concert season.

Books I'm Reading: Stiff

Stiff, was a New York Times bestseller when it was new, but I found it at a used bookstore long after the fact. I remember hearing its author Mary Roach interviewed on the radio (probably Fresh Air or All Things Considered) and thinking the book sounded interesting, although I'd forgotten that when I bought it recently.

The subject is a somewhat creepy one, but Roach's approach is matter-of-fact and almost reverent--if at times laugh-out-loud funny. Educational and entertaining. I read it in one sitting. Recommended. I see Roach has published at least two other books--Bonk, which takes human sexuality as its subject, and Gulp, which looks at eating. Probably as entertaining as Stiff was.

Art I'm Making: New Collage

Still catching up with the collages I made during the recent Sonoma County Art Trails open studio event (always the middle two weekends in October), here is Untitled Collage No. 113 (Santa Rosa), which (unintentionally) has a rather Turner-esque feel to it, I think.

Untitled Collage No. 113 (Santa Rosa), October 11, 2015, Acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage. Image 20.2 x 27.7cm, matted to 16 x 20 inches. Signed and dated on reverse, signed on the mat.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Books I'm Reading: The Hare with the Amber Eyes

Edmund de Waal's The Hare with the Amber Eyes appears to have been a best-seller when it was new. I received it long ago as a gift but read it only recently. It's an extraordinary tale expertly told. I can see why it was popular. De Waal is the current custodian of a remarkable collection of more than 260 netsuke that has been in his family since his relative, one Charles Joachim Ephrussi, acquired it whole in Paris during the late 19th century, a time of intense interest in Japanese art there among the wealthy and knowledgeable. Charles and the Ephrussi family as a collection of people are as interesting as the netsuke and De Waal is expert at introducing them to the reader as he, himself, investigates his ancestors and traces the history of the collection he now owns.

The collection moves from Paris to Vienna, following the family fortunes--where it narrowly escapes confiscation by the Nazis--and then to Tokyo by the 1960s, in a kind of homecoming, owned by a great uncle of the author, who now houses the collection in England. The earliest section, about Paris, is especially interesting for the picture it paints of the artists and writers Charles Ephrussi associated with.

A first-rate story beautifully told. My only complaint is that the edition I read (Picador, 2010) frustratingly has no illustrations of the collection, or even of the several special netsuke the author repeatedly mentions--the hare with the amber eyes among them. I've heard, however, that there are fancier editions available that are better illustrated. Still, highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Art I'm Making: New Collages

I finished only one collage in the weeks leading up to the Sonoma County Art Trails event in the middle of October, but I produced quite a number during the event. Here are Untitled Collage No. 111 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 112 (Santa Rosa). Both are collages made from acrylic monoprints. Number 111 (left) uses monoprint elements evocative of watercolor. Number 112 (below) uses some new papers I've made with a lot of browns and rusty oranges--as usual, incorporating scraps from papers made for earlier pieces.

Untitled Collage No. 111 (Santa Rosa), September 17, 2015, acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage, 12 x 11.4cm, signed and dated on reverse, signed on the mat. Matted to 11x14 inches.

Untitled Collage No. 112 (Santa Rosa), October 10, 2015, acrylic on paper, acrylic monoprint, collage, 10.5 x 12.1cm, signed and dated on reverse, signed on the mat. Matted to 11x14 inches.

Click on the image for a larger view. For more, visit my collage website at

Books I'm Reading: Two Books on Japanese Art

I've just finished reading two new publications from University of Hawaii Press, both about Japanese art. Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon, by Christine M. E. Guth, examines the history of response to Hokusai's print Kanagawa Oki no Namihira [Beneath the Wave off Kanagawa], better known today as The Great Wave, from its 1831 publication as part of Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji to the present day, and then looks at how the image has been adopted and repurposed since then. The book's approach is mainly descriptive, aiming to show the breadth of the image’s influence. Guth doesn’t dwell too deeply on the question of why The Great Wave has become the most widely recognized non-Western work of art in the world and perhaps the most recognized work of art of any kind after Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The themes are diverse, and appropriately so, as the central truth that emerges from Guth’s writing is that The Great Wave has been extraordinarily adaptable, particularly in a commercial and artistic context, where it’s been used to add cachet to package design and advertising, to decorate everything from éclairs to wristwatches, and as a backdrop or pictorial element in both high art and parody. It’s been called upon to represent the power of natural forces generally and, the struggle between man and nature more specifically. It has been taken to symbolize a temporal dichotomy—with Mount Fuji in the background standing for timelessness, the wave for the ephemeral. It has been used as a stand-in for Japan and, by extension Asia, although Guth points out that the print’s use of European illusionism and modern aniline dyes likely would have given it a foreign and exotic appeal to Japanese viewers at the time of its initial appearance.

While simply adding a dash of Japanese flavor is sometimes the goal of these commercial and other applications, just as often the aims of those adopting Hokusai’s wave image seem vague and hard to pin down. The Great Wave remains a symbol of Japan but at the same time a powerful and ambiguous icon easily divorced from its geographic origins, referenced as often as a signifier of abstract ideas as of anything specifically Japanese. Ultimately it is perhaps this elasticity of meaning that has allowed—and continues to allow—its many transformations.

Julie Nelson Davis’s Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Ukiyo-e Market is a more focused volume. Although it takes the form of close—almost archaeological—studies of four disparate publications and looks at their differing collaborative configurations, her carefully researched book uses each of the four studies to make the same point—that creation and consumption of artworks in the Ukiyo-e tradition were highly collaborative processes.

Davis examines a specially commissioned print featuring a work by painter Sekien, a teacher to both Utamaro and Sekichujo, to look at relationships between a teacher and his students. She examines a full-color printed guidebook to the Yoshiwara entertainment district in Edo, complete with reviews of the prostitutes and their establishments, focusing on relationships between painters, a publisher, the brothel operators, and tsu (those in the know—in this context, veteran frequenters of the pleasure quarters, the idealized assumed reader). She reveals the nuances of an erotic printed scroll, examining ties between the scroll’s designer and its publisher. Finally, she looks at a popular illustrated satire in book form, illuminating the interdependence of the book’s writer and its illustrator, at the same time shedding light on how publishers and government censors interacted in late eighteenth century Japan. She sees each of her examples as a “material record of dialog,” and she is expert at teasing out meaning from the smallest details of these works. Partners in Print is valuable not only for the convincing clarity of its central argument but also for the author’s masterful explication of each of the works she examines so closely. Partners in Print is likely to be of special interest to students of Japanese art history but of interest to any reader with more than a passing interest in Japan, art, and the sociology of art. 

Birds I'm Watching: Magnolia Warbler at Bodega Bay (10/21/2015)

A stray Magnolia Warbler has been hanging out at Diekmann's Bay Store, in Bodega Bay. Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia) is normally an Eastern species not found here. Once in a while a young bird will get lost west of the Rockies during its first migration south. I went to have a look and was lucky enough to get a good photograph of the bird. Warblers are such frantic foragers that I always feel lucky to capture one in focus (above).

A few days later I went again, but was unable to find the bird. I did, however, see a Nashville Warbler (Setophaga ruficapilla), also unusual here (although much less so). The birds can look similar in some plumages. Both have a complete white eyeing, a grayish head, and are otherwise greenish above and pale yellow below, but I knew this to be a Nashville because  of a number of differences--notably the lack of patterning in the wings, lack of a yellow rump, and the lack of the black and grey scalloping at the base of the tail present in the Magnolia Warbler (above). From underneath, it was all yellow except for a white patch at the base of the legs, which is typical of a Nashville (below).

For more about birds and birding in Sonoma County, see my Website: Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wines I'm Making: 2015 Wines Pressed

I pressed our 2015 Cabernet and Sangiovese wines the other day. We ended up with only two gallons of Sangiovese, three gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc--the smallest harvest we've ever had. This appears to have been typical even at commercial wineries around the county--very low yield this year. The wines are now resting, ready for inoculation to initiate malolactic fermentation. I'm also in the middle of a hard cider fermentation and trying to make wine from the neglected Zinfandel grapes (mostly raisins) my neighbor gave me.

Art I'm Making: Sonoma County Art Trails 2015

Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios 2015

Two weekends in October, every year, more than 160 artists open their studios (October 10–11 and October 17–18, 2015, 10:00AM to 5:00PM). This year, I'm studio no. 63, at 973 Stone Castle Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95405.

In case you don't already know, I' m a self-taught artist active in a range of media, including drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, and photography. I began making photographs at the age of eight and began drawing at an even younger age. In the realm of abstract art, I've recently focused on photography and on creating collages from monoprinted paper elements. This year at the Art Trails open studio event I'll be showing new collage work and new work from my "Museum Shadow Series" of photographs as well as older woodblock prints, etchings, and other photography, including nudes. My work is in private collections in the US and Japan and has been shown in galleries in cities around the world including San Francisco and Tokyo. I am the creator of Serendipitous Art, a blog that celebrates the unintended art all around us. Additionally, I curate shows on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi, in Cotati, CA. I spent much of my adult life in Tokyo, but I've lived and worked in Santa Rosa since the year 2000. If you visited my studio last year, please come again and see how busy I've been since you were here. If you've never visited, please come and have a look at how I work and at the art I make.

See more at my website (
More than 50 new pieces since last year

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Miscellaneous: The 2nd Amendment is the Problem

The idea that guns should be controlled seems so obvious and logical to me that I find it difficult even to weigh the issue (it seems already clear, not requiring much thought), but the recent massacre in Oregon and the reaction to it among gun rights advocates set me to thinking about logical arguments supporting gun control. The automobile analogy makes most sense to me. The idea surely isn’t novel, but why isn’t it persuasive to gun rights advocates?

Why do we register automobiles? Why do we require drivers to have a license to operate a motor vehicle? Why do we require drivers to have insurance against accidents and to carry proof of that insurance? Why do we require vehicles to display proof of registration and registration renewal prominently in the form of a license plate? Why do we require vehicle owners to keep their vehicles in good repair?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions? At first it all looks complicated. One question seems to lead to another and another. But one answer seems to apply to most of these questions: Cars can kill people, and, therefore, they should be regulated. All these arguments would seem to apply to guns. If we can regulate cars tightly, we should be able to regulate guns tightly.

Why isn’t that persuasive to gun rights advocates? Is my conclusion outrageous, outside the bounds of common sense?

We register autos because cars can kill people and we want to know who is responsible when a car is involved in causing property damage, an injury, or a fatality. We require a driver’s license so that people know the basics of operating a car safely—in the hope of avoiding property damage, injuries and fatalities—and to identify the operator. We require insurance because cars can kill people and we believe it just that victims of auto-related harm should be provided for and that victims of automobile fatalities and their families should be compensated. We require vehicles to be in good repair, because a poorly maintained vehicle can cause an accident and auto accidents kill people. We accept the risk, because cars are useful—for pleasure, for sport, for moving things and people from place to place—but we regulate cars tightly nevertheless. We require registration and insurance and we require these to be renewed annually. We require operator’s licenses that must be renewed periodically. We don’t give licenses to very young people or to people judged physically or mentally unable to handle an automobile. Because cars can kill people.

So why not guns—which are far more dangerous and, on the whole, much less useful?

Why not? Because, the gun lobby has persuaded too many people to believe that individual gun ownership is protected by the constitution. I believe that’s a mistaken interpretation, as many others do (and many deny, based on historically recent supreme court decisions that have destroyed the original intent of the Amendment). What’s clear is that the Amendment is confusingly worded. I think we need to amend the 2nd Amendment to say clearly what we believe it ought to say. The question is: What, as a nation, do we want it to say? If, as I believe, the Amendment’s intent was to limit federal interference in the maintenance of well-organized militias for local self defense (and only that), then the Amendment should say that. Guns in the hands of individuals in all other contexts then become like automobiles—just another potentially dangerous tool. If we can tightly regulate automobiles because automobiles can kill people, then surely we can do the same with guns. Let every gun operator be required to take training to obtain an operator’s license that must be renewed periodically. Let every gun in the nation be registered annually. Let every gun prominently display a unique identification plate. Let every gun owner carry insurance for each gun against its use in a criminal or accidental act that destroys property, maims, or takes a life. Let every gun owner be required to keep proof of adequate insurance with the gun at all times. Let all guns be required to undergo periodic safety inspections.

I would go further, arguing that some kinds of guns should be banned entirely, on the grounds that their potential danger far outweighs their potential utility. Just as most people don’t need potassium cyanide at home, most people don’t need an automatic assault weapon at home. If the 2nd Amendment is clarified, guns become easily controllable—like any other potentially dangerous tool. The NRA and its allies have been smart to focus on the supposed special constitutional protection of individual gun rights. The Amendment is the problem. We need to take back the 2nd Amendment by making it say unambiguously what it was originally meant to say—or, at the very least, to decide what, as a nation, we want it to say today.

[A piece in The NewYorker argues, as I do, that the amendment does not guarantee individual gun rights (in fact, the author argues that the Amendment was designed to allow regulation of guns outside of an organized militia). He therefore believes the Amendment does not need to be amended. I continue to believe that clarifying it would be helpful.]

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Art I'm Looking At: Mark Eanes on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi

I'm looking forward to showing the work of Mark Eanes next on The Art Wall at Shige Sushi, in Cotati. The show will run from October 6 through November 29, 2015. The opening reception will be Monday, October 12. Click on the image here for a larger view. For more information about current and upcoming shows on The Art Wall, visit The Art Wall website at

Miscellaneous: Lunar Eclipse (September 27, 2015)

We were treated to a total eclipse of the moon today. Did you see the blood-orange red moon tonight? By the time I was able to photograph it, the color had gone....
Related Posts with Thumbnails