October 23rd, 2017

“You think there will be fewer insecticides sprayed on farmlands around the globe in the years to come? Think again. It is the most uncomfortable of truths, but one which stares us in the face: that even the most successful organisms that have ever existed on earth are now being overwhelmed by the titanic scale of the human enterprise, as indeed, is the whole natural world.”

Michael McCarthy 10/21/17

October 11th, 2017

Junger still understands what it is to be a journalist. These honest professionals still exist, but there are fewer and fewer of them.

August 26th, 2017

“Our congenital distrust of authority and suspicion of history were born in the Enlightenment and it informs us all, progressives and conservatives alike. It is what makes America great and exceptional, but in too big of a dose, it becomes lethal. Letting go of the past is the great American curative for all manner of European social and political pathologies. But letting go is not the same thing as forgetting, and forgetting is not the same thing as hating. The progressive push to erase the past has gone from being a remedy for social resentment to a cause of social resentment.”

Jonah Goldberg 8/25/17

August 15th, 2017

“Madam, do not train up your children in hostility to the government of the United States. Remember, we are all one country now… Bring them up to be Americans.”

Robert E Lee

August 13th, 2017

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

July 16th, 2017

Martin Landau, RIP

Martin Landau
1 9 2 8 – 2 0 1 7
an actor’s actor
R
I
P

June 17th, 2017

“Liberalism of the 1950s and ’60s exalted civil liberties, individualism, and dissident thought and speech. ‘Question authority’ was our generational rubric when I was in college. But today’s liberalism has become grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian: It’s all about reducing individuals to a group identity, defining that group in permanent victim terms, and denying others their democratic right to challenge that group and its ideology. Political correctness represents the fossilized institutionalization of once-vital revolutionary ideas, which have become mere rote formulas. It is repressively Stalinist, dependent on a labyrinthine, parasitic bureaucracy to enforce its empty dictates.”

Camille Paglia 6/15/17

Farewell, Wallace . . .

May 14th, 2017

After a rapid decline, Wallace died this morning. Tomorrow I shall bury my fourth Yorkshire Terrier. Dogs have been with humankind from the time we deserved to be called people. Perhaps they had something to do with us becoming more than the clever devils we must have been. Dogs are perhaps the purest form of love, and Yorkies are another order of magnitude. Somebody once said that we are doomed to outlive all of our dogs — except the last one.

May 9th, 2017

“You’ve got to pick the right girl in the first place. And much more important, as a husband you have to remember the crucial importance of three little words — ‘I was wrong.’ That will take you a lot further than ‘I love you.’”

Charlton Heston

May 3rd, 2017

 

Brendan’s Birthday Comic Strip Artifact
collage artifact by J A Dixon
12 x 7.375 inches
collection of B C Adkins

four days in late April

May 1st, 2017

Thursday ~ Cared for Mombo at the Hall, and she was trying to shake off some cold symptoms. Joan got home as early as possible, so I could get back to Danville for drinks and dinner with the visiting brothers Andrew and Rory from South Africa, along with local friends (Lee and David with granddaughter). The owner of the Bluegrass Pizza Pub invited us to draw on the wall with chalk, but only Zoey and I took him up on it. I cannot remember ever being uncomfortable with a piece of chalk in my hand, which stimulates a direct, electromagnetic current to my imagination. Nor can I recall life before my chalkboard career, as a matter of fact. Like clockwork, Scott V turned 65 first today, but, for some reason, I haven’t reached out yet.

Friday ~ Spent a lot of time monitoring the stock market and setting up trades. Made a trip to Minuteman Press to arrange for the printing of the Carol & Bob portraits. The happy image was taken by someone at a Band Fest picnic years ago, but I have no recollection who it was — a total mystery. We watched the first disc of The Wire, Season Three. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any new ground being broken, but it always fascinates me to observe Dominic West’s acting, and the way he projects different characters without saying anything. I am still reading the new biography of Heston (Hollywood’s Last Icon), and the same basic sense of the great man is reinforced. Loaded with photos from his family archives. The first time I immersed myself in Heston, I was influenced by his values and principles. This time I am struck more with his stubborn refusal to allow personal, professional, or societal obstacles to remain unchallenged. Late in the evening I spent time on the phone with both Marty and Terie, trying to defuse another domestic flare-up. I believe they have exhausted their ability to live with each other at this point in their lives, and I can only trust them to resolve it and not let it spill over to affect those who love them.

Saturday ~ Up at 6am to go get a free load of compost from the city (out at their farm off Standford Road). Spent the rest of the morning working on the Town House yard, fueled by Subway’s new Keurig unit. Not a bad way to spend my birthday so far. We had a relaxing afternoon with early drinks, hot baths, and general sweetness. And then it was time to head to Lexington in search of Moules et Frites. We were early (imagine that), so we stopped into a pub to have a Belgian Red Ale. I was pleasantly surprised by its refreshingly dry, tart, slightly apple-vinegar quality, and it hit the spot better than a typical brew. Dana was still hobbling from her basement-stairs mishap, so we were moving a bit slow, but all went well. The moules marinière at Le Deauville were perhaps the tastiest mussels I have ever enjoyed, enhanced by an exceptional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I had crossed the line of no return into Medicare and hit the pillow hard when we arrived home.

Sunday ~ We had our typical brunch-with-morning-political-news-shows, and the exasperating scene in Washington, DC continues. Politicians are unwilling to forge anything balanced enough to anger everyone in the country, except for the few who remember what a compromise actually looks and sounds like. The problem is that most citizens who care are convinced that compromise will not actually solve anything and they want their side to hold sway. It hardens the polarity and ensures another pendulum swing. It is a pathological state. The rhetorical downtrend deepens. And, of course, many troubling problems such as health care only get worse. Later in the day we drove to Lexington to attend Drew Robertson’s graduation celebration. Dana was adequately ambulatory, but still treading very cautiously. It was a pleasant backyard bash. Mingling with extended relatives, plastic cup of iced Buffalo Trace in hand, I lost track of time and jeopardized our getting to Costco before it closed. Still feeling in the “birthday zone,” I treated myself to socks and underpants, and we finally had that misbehaving tire on the Avalon fixed.

hopelessly a reader

April 22nd, 2017

“He had a strong sense of his life being upon the turn, between two seasons, as it were, with the certainties of the one no longer valid for the other. He was not a fanciful man, but for some time now he had had an indefinable sense of chaos following order, of impending disaster; and it oppressed his mind.”
— the thoughts of Captain J Aubrey
   Treason’s Harbour by Patrick O’Brian

I am swept up in the riveting climax of my ninth O’Brian novel, and must finish it off within hours. The library purchased the new Charlton Heston biography in response to my request, so I shall be taking a break from my esteemed Stephen Maturin to immerse myself — one more time — in the life story of “Hollywood’s Last Icon.”
 

 

Constrained Collage

April 21st, 2017

“Every athlete, every musician practices every day. Why should it be different for artists?”
— Christoph Niemann

Creating a collage within constraints is one of the more enjoyable activities within the medium, because it is necessary to throw oneself upon the mercy of pure intuition. I was in the middle of a care-giving day at the Blue Bank Hall yesterday and assigned myself this exercise:

Complete one full-page collage in my journal during Mombo’s two-hour afternoon nap, using only ingredients found in the recycling bin.

I am constantly experimenting, because I find it difficult to pluck a coherent idea from a “cold start,” and so I cultivate a habit of collage experimentation to preserve a state of receptivity and to invite the uncanny “synchronicities” from which a more rational concept can be refined. Naturally, my journal is the perfect place to conduct such exercises. I take what I learn from the small format and bring it to larger artworks. What is it that I learn? That, too, is primarily a matter of intuition. I hope to internalize the creative response that each experiment reveals and keep my collage process as subjective as possible. For me, nothing bogs down the making of a collage more than too much rational thinking.
 
Untitled (first cause) ~ a collage miniature by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky

Untitled (first cause)
constrained collage exercise by J A Dixon
9.5 x 13 inches

heading into March . . .

March 1st, 2017

I was stumped about an idea for Gwen’s “225” show about Kentucky’s history until I turned off the radio on a drive to the farm. Dana had suggested Star of Abraham, but I figured I needed to revise and extend it somehow. Near Hustonville it hit me: Lincoln’s noteworthy declaration, “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” I got down a flurry of thumbnail concepts in my journal when I arrived at the Blue Bank Hall. It was barely necessary to ever look at them again, because the development of the final idea took on a momentum of its own. Tonight I finished the home stretch of the artwork when I finished painting the lettering with acrylics, assembling the components for a photograph, and making the midnight deadline with a half hour to spare. As I enter into March, my thoughts are concerned with my annual exercise. Now that I have “I Must Have Kentucky” under my belt, I am committed to a series of low-stress improvements in my collage studio and work pattern. If I also complete some new experiments, that will be icing on the proverbial cake.

February 6th, 2017

“Mr. Trump has overloaded all circuits. Everything is too charged, with sparks and small shocks all over. ‘Nothing feels stable,’ I mused to a longtime Washington media figure at a dinner the night before the Prayer Breakfast. ‘Nothing is stable,’ she replied. Earlier, on the Hill, a veteran conservative member of Congress, speaking of the president, got a puzzled look: ‘There’s no calming with him. It’s Look what I can do now!’”

Peggy Noonan 2/2/17

2017 is here . . .

January 30th, 2017

An update on my current exhibitions:

HAVE A SEAT: Chairs by Kentucky Artisans

NEW YEAR NEW ART

ORDER & CHAOS

Empress of Wings ~ John Andrew DixonDreams Aligned ~ a collaborative collage construction ~ Kentucky artists John Andrew Dixon and Robert Hugh HuntDiamonds in the Rough ~ a collage construction by John Andrew Dixon, Danville, Kentucky

It’s showtime, America . . .

January 27th, 2017

It occurs to me that if the Trump presidency is overly problematic, it can in many ways be transcended as an aberration, but Hillary Clinton was an embodiment of everything abhorrent in the existing political class, and that is why so many considered him the lesser of evils. This entire notion is beyond the typical progressive. There are times when things boil to a point more critical than political agendae. Things were due for a major disruption of the status quo. It looks like the new administration sees the first order of business to be a striking of as many blows as quickly as possible in the culture war (from political correctness to the distorted role of the media; from American exceptionalism to traditional constitutionalism). It will be interesting to watch the convulsions and to see if more good comes out of this than bad. I long for the viewpoints of Heston, Kemp, and Snow, but I’ll just have to think for myself and stay clear-headed about what is proving to be a very complex dynamic.
 

Merry Christmas: to be continued . . .

December 25th, 2016

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.”
— Henri Poincaré

December is the time of year for making hand-crafted holiday cards. By and by, I return to variations on the theme of a Christmas tree. Perhaps some of the collage miniatures are more “successful” than others, but the point of this ritual (other than sharing joy with dear ones, of course) is granting free rein to an intuitive response. Exercising this capacity is at the heart of collage as a medium. How important it is to give the imagination a blank check and invest no concern in the lack of a preconceived approach! Choosing a simple pictorial theme conveniently jump-starts an experimental process. What follows is pure discovery.
 

29 collage greeting
cards by J A Dixon

variations on a
Christmas theme
2001 – 2016

Now what?

November 9th, 2016

1:43 pm — So here we are. A shocking upset that developed state by state, well into the early hours of this morning. The possibility of a Trump win became plausible after Florida, and then Ohio made it even more conceivable. Up to that point, I had been totally convinced that Hillary would prevail. I was as wrong as those who voted for her. Too many Democrats were content to denigrate a massive chunk of the population and missed the mood of the electorate. They would have done better with James Webb, who has understood what was happening. They should have read BORN FIGHTING. The pollsters were astonishingly wrong. I think the Democrats would have preferred to have known they were behind. The media bias appears to have backfired. It energized those who felt disaffected and may have convinced members of the liberal coalition to believe that a second Clinton presidency was a done deal. Two major factors that not many are talking about today: the NRA ground game and the defection of countless union members to the Republican candidate (a throwback to the 1980s). Apparently, Clinton under-performed among educated white women, who identified less with their gender and more with the security concerns and economic uncertainties that Trump exploited. After an overnight scare, the markets have stabilized a bit today, but I expect continued volatility and perhaps a sharp technical correction over the coming weeks. At any rate, I didn’t see this coming — for Trump’s populist uprising to carry the day — and, sadly, I cannot foresee any kind of “honeymoon,” in spite of the millions who yearn for a national healing.

“We don’t for a moment think that every Trump voter shares his darkest views or instincts, only that they were willing to accept them as a way of casting a vote against ‘the system,’ as they’ve seen it. Now, their candidate is the system, and we’ll be there to hold him to account for how he runs it.”
Jon Avlon, The Daily Beast

October 19th, 2016


 
It pleases me to announce that we shall open our studio and gallery to the public again during the first weekend of November. For more information, please visit our website or facebook page.
 
 
 
 

 
 

A Day in My Life

September 21st, 2016

“Woke up. Got out of bed.
Dragged a comb across my head.”

The Beatles, 1967

Dana was up early and walked over to Centre’s track before I woke up and found the coffee hot. I needed to finish the digital file retouching of the RFs color composite illustration. I wanted to be ready to send it to the printer by the time she returned from her Architectural Review Board meeting. We were able to do just that, and I hand-cut a prototype mat so that I could show James my idea for a standard 14 x 11 framable print. The water was still warm in Dana’s tub, so I took a quick bath and dressed for the day. She suggested we get some lunch after showing James the test print. On the way to pick it up, the Avalon sedan’s brakes went out right before we got to Danny the mechanic’s garage on South Fourth, so we rolled right in. Wayne D happened to be there and we talked to him about his scheduled lower leg amputation (not a decision anyone would make casually). Clearly it was his only option, and he was down to choosing the surgeon. While Dana arranged for the repairs, I started to walk home to get the Toyota pickup (Joben). Turns out I would get a walk under my belt, too. When I bent to pick up what looked like litter, I discovered it was a 20-dollar bill in poor condition. Well, that was the second bit of luck. When I got back to the garage, we headed to Minuteman Press to get back on schedule. The test print was terribly dark, but when they re-ran it at the lightest setting, it looked fine. We decided to go have a Mexican lunch nearby, and followed that with a stop at the ‘Bean’ coffee shop. When I inquired about the senior discount with the lady there, she didn’t even know it was mentioned on the menu, and we joked around for few minutes before finding out that she knew Susan and James. Her name was Tammy Bernard, and James had actually been her ‘bundle boy’ decades before at Liberty Sportwear (1980?). She looked quite fit, and sure enough she was a fellow Boot Camp devotee with Susan. Her husband, Bill Devine, is a physician at UK Health. She ended up enjoying our chat so much that she gave us our Americano cups on the house. On to the 10th Planet to see James. He liked the final artwork and test print, so Dana called in the quantity for the order. James handed me $50 and persuaded me to see if I could get all the mats cut at the Frame Cellar by the close of business. We picked up the prints and headed back downtown to John C’s shop. Dana told me that she had seen him unlocking his place after 6 am, and I was worried that he might not have stayed open all day, but he was there working. I was astonished to find out that he hadn’t been in his storefront since the first of the month and that he was “playing catch-up.” Not a good time to ask him to drop what he was doing, but my luck held. He was willing to cut the mats for James right then and there. He told me that he had been in Florida visiting his son Paden (named after the Kevin Kline character in Silverado), and when he got back to Kentucky, he had to turn around and go right back after learning Paden had crashed his motorcycle when a woman pulled out in front of him (she never even saw what she had done). For some reason, Paden had returned to the hospital after they released him, and it was discovered that he was bleeding internally from a small rupture in a renal artery. (The surgeon reportedly said, “If you had gone to bed, you probably wouldn’t have awoken the next day.”) So, I managed to pick the first day he was back in the frame shop after this family ordeal, and to top it off, he gave me a discount on the whole rush job. I told him he had to think up a reason to ask me for a big favor. Back in the studio, I put all the new prints into the mats while Dana did the paperwork for James. I dropped her off at Danny’s garage before I went back to see James at the Planet. He was very satisfied with everything he needed for his RF gathering in Ohio. He and Susan were planning on leaving the next morning, and he was “trying to squeeze five days of work into three.” Even though he still had a late night ahead of him, he was in a relaxed mood and we talked about the extraordinary event on Blue Bank Road when the missing todder was found on the Sweeney Knob after a ten-hour search involving local first responders, hundreds of volunteers, and multiple law enforcement entities. This week will always be remembered for the miraculous rescue of the little Chumbley boy in the Clan Valley “forcefield.” Thousands of people must have been praying, but nobody’s pleas could have been more pure than Mombo’s. When I returned, Dana had brought home some organic wine, so I opened a bottle and we made fruit-&-nut plates for supper and watched three episodes of The Affair. I liked them enormously, except for one part that can only be described as pornographic. It was obvious why Maura T (Helen) had been nominated for an Emmy. I could not believe that Sebastian Junger did a cameo (was it meant to be tongue-in-cheek?), but I got a major kick out of his appearance. What a day! Very intense on many levels, but without the characteristic “fears and doubts.” It was time for bed, in preparation for an early start to prepare for my multi-day care-giving stay with Mombo (when I hope to finally complete the oak-trim details above the stone flue). There won’t be many more quite like today…

August 23rd, 2016

Steven Hill, RIP


Steven Hill
1 9 2 2 – 2 0 1 6
legendary actor
Shabbat-observant Jew
R
I
P