Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I found this totem pole sitting in a yard on our walk in Tahoe on Saturday. I loved the colors and despite the broken wing on the left-hand side, it made quite a statement in the front of that home.

Totem poles represent family lineage and often mythical or historical incidents and are erected before the houses of Indian tribes of the northwest coast of No. America. They also represent an order of rank; hierarchy.

I'm not sure what this totem represents to the owners of the house but as a sheer statement of sculpture in someones yard, it is quite impressive. For myself, there is always an underlying meaning to what I do, to what I place in my yard, to what I paint or collage. It's not always evident to the eye of those who are looking but for me, that lends an importance to the object too. It is not always about just the appeal of the color or the composition (although that is always important too) but the underlying message that I am trying to convey.

My Aunt once asked me "What were you thinking when you painted this?". I wasn't sure if that was an insult (as in: what WERE you thinking!) or if she just genuinely wanted to know what was going on in my mind and what I was trying to say. To this I say: it is not important what I was trying to say but what YOU get from it when you look at it. It should speak to you in some way. Not all art speaks to everyone.

Years ago my Uncle carved a totem pole and no one in his family wanted it. I raised my hand and said "I'd like it" and so he said "It's yours". This is a far-away shot of the totem pole as it sits in my garden space directly in front of my studio. I often think that it is such a special remembrance of him and his talent but more so, it reminds me of family lineage (albeit probably not mine). I think it would be fun for him to make one that represented our family--where we came from, what we believed in, our historical place on this earth. This sounds like a good theme for some art to me.

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