March 28th, 2023

“Many people (and physicians) rely on the CDC and NIH to guide them in healthcare and wellness decisions. It is way past time that these organizations step up to the plate and do their job and stop relying on the unscientific biases of highly influential bureaucrats. That job being to protect the health of the public. Not advancing the interests of the pharmaceutical industry and its shareholders.”

Robert W Malone MD MS
Lies My Gov’t Told Me: And the Better Future Coming

The world without her remains a world full of Mombo.

January 1st, 2023

This past month was dominated by the earthly departure of my mother. The role she played in my becoming an artist and the approach I bring to my practice cannot, and should not, be understated. What a debt I owe to her, and to pay it forward will require that I live as long as she! I might’ve started “giving back” much earlier, if it had been my basic nature. I can be a quick study for most things, but it often takes me far too long to learn the rest, especially when it involves stepping beyond my own creative urge. Her life was a lesson in putting others before self. In order to support her parents’ household in a world at war, she turned down a full scholarship to the same University of Cincinnati that I would eventually attend. Decades later, in a nest recently emptied of seven children, and just as she was about to explore her own personal interests, she followed her family to a remote part of a rural Kentucky county. As a widow, she built an ethical foundation for a land-based legacy that is now set to endure for generations. When she faced a grim medical prognosis that would break the spirit of others, she maintained a zest for life, an obvious concern for how it might affect others, and an astonishing diligence to push back against it. The world of my youth had shouted, “Be cynical, or pessimistic, or both,” but she would always be my reliable source of optimism, like a spring which never dries up. I could’ve become a quitter early on, but she helped me to overcome discouragement born of self-doubt and to fulfill commitments. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Why not always do your very best? And then you will automatically get better. Along with my siblings, everything was done to provide the care she needed to continue living at home, until it became no longer possible. Those years — what could be mistakenly judged as sacrificial — strengthened our family bond in a way that will last us for the duration. To separate that from my activity as an artist was unnecessary at the time and foolhardy in hindsight. Above and beyond the value of artisanship, she taught me that a creative life without love for others is devoid of meaning. Of all the souls I have intimately known, hers is the most worthy of imitation.

December 13th, 2022


September 22nd, 2022

“It’s not a stretch to say much of, if not most of, mainstream media has become conduits for shoddy propaganda … all intended to do two things, distract people from the real issues and serve as a bludgeon against anybody who dares to draw the attention back to them.”

Royce White, 9/18/22

September 5th, 2022

“Since the G7 oil price cap was announced on Friday, Russia has retaliated by cutting gas supply to Germany to zero, and joining forces with Saudi Arabia and others at OPEC+ to reduce global oil production. I’m going to go to the pub to drink some beer now.”

Javier Blas, 9/5/22

A ‘happy happy’ re-post from 2014

September 3rd, 2022

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another;
there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”
— Carl Jung

The distinctive singularity of an individual has been a profound feature of my awareness throughout life. Undoubtedly, it is the basis for much of what I have enjoyed doing most — from solving visual problems for unique entrepreneurs, or creating my own brand of illustrated portraits, and, of course, hand-crafting greeting cards with collage miniatures. I shall never tire of assembling a spontaneous composition with suitable ingredients to honor a particular person. Each collage, like every human being, is a one-of-a-kind creation, and the medium is ideal for personalized expressions. The artist has a remarkable opportunity to interpret the peculiar constellation of personality traits, proclivities, and associations that befit a fellow mortal. To put it simply: I love it!

Dwindling Nest
collage miniature by J A Dixon
collection of J Hellyer

August 21st, 2022

“The buffoonish January 6 riot at the Capitol is often cited as proof of the insurrectionary right-wing movement. But the one-day riotous embarrassment never turned up any armed revolutionaries or plots to overthrow the government. In contrast, Antifa and BLM rioters were no one-day buffoons. They systematically organized a series of destructive and deadly riots across the country for over four months in the summer of 2020. The lethal toll of their work was over 35 dead, $2 billion in property losses, and hundreds of police officers injured.”

Victor Davis Hanson, 8/19/22

Pretty darn good Saturday . . .

July 30th, 2022

Training the trainers in Eastern Kentucky!


April 15th, 2022

“Charter schools don’t have such vocal and passionate enemies because they don’t work, but because they do. Therefore, they pose a threat to the education status quo. They threaten the current power balance that allows the interests of adults who run public education to come before what’s best for students. Bad schools stay open because those schools still provide good jobs for adults. Whether or not the children are learning is a secondary concern at best.”

Jason L Riley, 2/24/22

March Ex(clusion) — thirty-first day

March 31st, 2022

“What is it that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man’s breast with pride above that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery!”
– Mark Twain

March is going out like a lion — no big surprise there. Meanwhile, the March Ex(clusion) is declared OVER. It has unwrapped itself in a way that I never could have predicted. This whole thing originated as a time-management experiment designed to re-calibrate a design practice that I didn’t realize was fated for demise, in transition to my true calling. I’m an artist now, belatedly but wholeheartedly, as I dreamed I’d be since childhood. The March ritual has become an internal, near-sacramental custom — more difficult to describe than ever. But that’s not the point of it. The 31-day string of blog posts is just a way to modulate my attention span and, perhaps, to crystalize as relics a few word clusters with the potential to re-animate various worthy insights at a later time. Would that I had the talent and capacity to write down the many intangible illuminations that peppered this month! That’s not my gift, any more than the ability to devise winning basketball plays under pressure (like my godfather) or to compose organ music in solitude (like my grandfather). Spring (who has sprung) points me to the open air. I am better prepared to answer her summons with another March under my belt (and, before long, to enter my eighth decade). April, here I come.

Today’s sight bite— His severe yet compassionate visage, with the ever-present verdigris patina, —c-l-i-c-k— that man on the Danville obelisk, seeming to acknowledge and endorse the success of a ritual that I’ve conducted in some guise for 16 years.

March Ex(clusion) — thirtieth day

March 30th, 2022

“There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is system and gradation.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s been a long time since I read through older posts at this site, but for some reason I came across the astonishing 6 Mombonian Updates from 2007, which document my mother’s heart surgery. I can’t believe how much time I used to spend blogging, compared to the present time frame, but I’m glad I did it, and even more glad that BCA preserves it at (although the few entries the Mombo made at her own subsection are no longer visible, as far as I can tell). It’s seems fitting today to turn the rest of this post over to Joan and her pleasant message after visiting The Grandview:
      “Well, I was with Mombo for 2 1/2 hours this morning. It was a BVE (Best Visit Ever). Jerome is absolutely right. Now is the time to come visit. I got here at 8:30. She was in the dining room finishing up her breakfast. She had eaten a lot and was drinking apple juice out of a cup BY HERSELF. When I walked up she was trying to get it back on her tray without spilling it so I helped her. She said thank you and looked up at me. I said good morning and told her who I was (Joannie). She asked Joan Elaine Dixon? I knew right then we were going to have a BVE. She was more lucid that I have seen her in two years. Either spring has sprung in her brain or the covid fog has finally lifted. We sat in the dining room and had a long conversation. Then we went back to her room and she listened to music while I massaged her feet, legs, hands, and scalp. She complained about her legs hurting so I asked the nurse (James) about the supports for her wheelchair. They were not in her room but he tracked them down. I also asked Tina to let the helpers know that they should be put on if she is going to be in the wheelchair for any length of time. I tried to make some videos of parts of our conversations. Unfortunately the first ones are pretty lousy because I got my head in front of the phone so she could see me, and all you can see is my hair.”

Today’s sight bite—  a-b-o-v-e-!-! 

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-ninth day

March 29th, 2022

“Nothing, indeed, is so characteristic of Tolstoy as the painstaking attention he paid to his works. Even at a time when he was beginning to regard art as an evil, he remained the great artist who was never satisfied and in his search of unattainable perfection did not hesitate to criticize the best of his works.”
– David Magarshack

Sometimes I just want to hit my forehead against the double-brick facade of the Town House. After spending many hours over several days writing and refining a comprehensive artist statement for a major competition (with plenty of back-and-forth collaborative tension between Dana and me), I discover that a what I’d thought was a limitation of 5000 words was instead an clearly specified 5000-character maximum. AAUGHH!

Today’s sight bite— The tiny brown bird with speckled breast and long tail, fidgeting on my newly clipped bush.—c-l-i-c-k— An edgy wren, lady thrush, or juvenile sparrow? My ignorance is disclosed…

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-eighth day

March 28th, 2022

“Cain turns to Evil to obtain what Good denied him, and he does it voluntarily, self-consciously and with malice aforethought. Christ takes a different path. His sojourn in the desert is the dark night of the soul — a deeply human and universal human experience.”
– Jordan B Peterson

“No tree can grow to Heaven unless its roots reach down to Hell.”
– Carl Gustav Jung

Yesterday was really something else, and, if I had to live it repeatedly, I could do much worse. Was the promise of this month’s endeavor fulfilled? Perhaps it even suggests a solution to my quandary of the twenty-third day. If I knew that tomorrow was going to be put on a loop, how would I prepare? How then would I live it? A balance of effort and non-effort? How does one avoid crossing a frontier into excessive introspection? How often should action be diluted with non-action? James emphasized to me the importance of cyclic illumination for seedlings, because a young plant grows more during darkness than it does during the period of light. Similarly, a plant can bend toward the sun only if the cells multiply faster on the opposite side. What can that awareness possibly offer to the contemplative? Is there a meaningful difference between negation and denial? What is the March Ex(clusion) hiding that has yet to be revealed?

Today’s sight bite— A tangle of roots, sod, and invasive ivy, —c-l-i-c-k— as the ground is broken for my new backyard berry patch.

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-seventh day

March 27th, 2022

“We enter the contemplative experience when the movements of the mind — reason, memory, imagination and all their compounds begin to settle into silence. However simple this may sound it is hard work because it demands a radical detachment at the core of our identity.”
– Laurence Freeman

Ah, that every day would behold the inner mood of a Sunday morning, whether quiet preparation for bicycling into nature or loving anticipation of yet another crack at meditation. So there you have it. Make each one like that. Especially Mondays. If you bring that into an outing devoted to art, you may bring that into one more day in the studio, too.

Today’s sight bite— A now innocuous square of concrete, with nearby toppled gravestone and pile of discarded lead strips, —c-l-i-c-k— plus foraging robins and squirrels, oblivious that the site once presented a hatless guy of stone whose story was erased in lieu of a full-context teaching opportunity.

March 26th, 2022

to Brendan
and Kat!



March Ex(clusion) — twenty-fifth day

March 25th, 2022

“None of them [simulations] emphasized protecting public health by showing Americans how to bolster their immune systems, to eat well, to lose weight, to exercise, to maintain vitamin D levels, and to avoid chemical exposure. None of these focused on devising the vital communications infrastructures to link frontline doctors during a pandemic or to facilitate the development and refinement of optimal treatment protocols.”
– Robert F Kennedy, Jr

I’ve adopted the practice of “grounding” every morning, standing barefoot in my front yard. Although there are many published enumerations of the benefits, I can’t put into words the positive effect that I feel every time I do it, especially when I look up into the sky. Apparently the human organism is an electo-magnetically sensitive creature like other mammals. Last time I checked, none of them wear shoes. They typically dig in the dirt a lot, too, and I’ve been wanting to do that myself more and more. James is holding some black raspberries for me. Eventually, my whole backyard will probably end up as a crude urban farmstead.

Today’s sight bite— The stark metal structure extending out into the downtown parking lot, —c-l-i-c-k— its black hulk having swallowed what used to be a brewpub previously known as the Beer Engine.

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-fourth day

March 24th, 2022

“He was a Dutch mouse, and lived in a windmill with a little girl named Marsha. The windmill belonged to Marsha’s father and mother, but Mr. Poof belonged to Marsha.”
– Rena & John Jacob Niles, Mr. Poof’s Discovery

I’m marveling at Wesley’s masterful graphic illustrations for Larkspur’s newest title. There was a time when Gray was “holding auditions” for a backup engraver. I’m proud to say that I was someone who got a tryout, but Joanne earned the gig (and soundly, too). If Bates can bang out 18 wood blocks for one tale, surely I can create nearly that quantity of collage miniatures by June. (Does that guy over there walking toward April have a starting gun in his hand?)

Today’s sight bite— The image of a mouse, printed with superb artisanship, —c-l-i-c-k— emblematic of a literary partnership that I’ve had the great fortune to observe with intimacy, awe, and gratitude.

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-third day

March 24th, 2022

“To plead the possibility of the merely possible, losing in the process all right to insist on the desirability of what would be better, is finally to lose even the possible.”
– Wendell Berry, That Distant Land

Spent most of the day on the Hoover job, and I realize how rusty my graphic production skills have become. I’m also fully aware of my meager attainment in the starting-vegetable-plants department, compared to how James has perfected his pre-garden methods. Faced with big decisions about my deadline for the Berea Learnshops (which were canceled two summers in a row because of infection concerns) and the Al Smith application. If you think about it, life is a four-period ball game. After coming of age, I spent the second quarter as a design professional and the third making a transition to collage artist. Well, I’m getting closer to entering the fourth quarter. Shouldn’t I have figured out by now what the essence of that will be about? (It has a heckuva lot more to do with the natural world. I know that much.)

Today’s sight bite— n o n e

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-second day

March 22nd, 2022

“A recent bill that was introduced would ‘authorize the President of the United States to issue letters of marque and reprisal for the purpose of seizing the assets of certain Russian citizens.’ So, if the bill passes, children can once again legitimately dream of becoming a pirate when they grow up.”
– Simon Black

It occurred to me today that Dana and I started out together with our own natural lifestyles, and, over the years, we’ve evolved separately toward the mean. I’m not talking about our personalities, but the way we like to live each day. We actually were remarkably close to begin with, but then we mutually adapted to like each other’s groove a bit more over time. Hey, in other words, it worked out fine. Earlier today we had a busted mission to dig some freebie yard plants. I sowed some wildflowers instead. This morning brought good relations with Les J in England and Tammy in Lake City. That, plus a decent night’s sleep, made this one a keeper before noon.

Today’s sight bite— Flashing lights on the firetruck a stone’s throw away, —c-l-i-c-k— while the morning air filled with enough burnt-toast stink to coax me back inside.

March Ex(clusion) — twenty-first day

March 21st, 2022

“The universe rewards hustle.”
– Joe Rogan

Spring done sprang out there, but Dana and I had to spend most of our day putting the finishing touches on “Collage as: Painting in Papers,” my article submission for Contemporary Collage Magazine. Writing something decent always requires that I ask for her help. Mediocre is all I can manage on my own. As I mentioned to Marty, nothing at all might result from this, or it could be one of the most important things ever to come my way as an artist (probably something in between those two extremes). Man, did I want to be outside today! I’ll save that anticipation for tomorrow.

Today’s sight bite— n o n e

March Ex(clusion) — twentieth day

March 20th, 2022

“Of all sources of wealth, farming is the best, the most agreeable, the most profitable, the most noble.”
– Cicero

I tied one on at Greystone with Marty, James, Nic, and Seth last night — great fun — and then it was another long work session inside the Blue Bank Hall today, patching and painting with our crew. I broke away later to continue my duties in the “orchard.” Seth and I scheduled the long-awaited transfer of the Legend Papers, and there’s no telling what might come of that.

Today’s sight bite— The near equinoctial sun, piercing through the upper branches of a venerable pear tree, —c-l-i-c-k— as I continued my annual pruning in the family cemetery.

March Ex(clusion) — nineteenth day

March 19th, 2022

“He and I hold some different views, which can be painfully stark these days; at the same time, I will always be a person shaped by his art, and by our love for one another.”
– B C Adkins

I stumbled upon Brendan’s gesture of sharing a link to my process video. His “rollover aside” both melts and pierces my heart. (Perhaps that’s as accurate a description of real love as I will ever come up with.)

Today’s sight bite— Searching through my little movie, frame by frame, —c-l-i-c-k— until I finally discover an image of me working outside that is probably better than all the other photos from the past five years.