I don’t know much about art, except knowing what I wouldn’t want to fall on me. Most artists I’ve known were just doing it for the same reasons I write things down. They mostly just did it without wondering why. And I’ve always suspected most of them secretly hoped some piece of it would survive them.
Probably the same is true of the people all over the backassed places who scratched things on rocks or painted pictures a person today often has difficulty understanding.
But sometimes in the heat of the moment those artists pulled off coups leaving no doubt what was being said, why it was being said. Messages speaking of events in their lives still able to increase the heartbeat of a viewer looking from another world. Another reality. Another time. For instance, of the hundreds of petroglyphs I’ve seen in my life, a couple come to mind that satisfy that description.
One’s in the desert east of Socorro, New Mexico. Under a cliff overhang 50, maybe 100 yards long someone a long time ago painted [yeah, I know. Not a petroglyph per se] a series of scenes of people wearing jockstraps pulling men in armor off horses, beating them to death, stabbing them, generally giving them whatfer.
I’m only speculating on this, but I’ve always suspected that scene depicts a piece of action took place with scouts or the rear-guard of the Spaniards retreating from New Mexico fleeing the Terrors. The Revolt of 1690. The route passed within a few miles of there, some maybe right across it.
The other is in Frijole Canyon a few miles upgrade from Bandera. Three guys in jockstraps surrounding a bear ten times their size and a dozen times their ugly. The two on the sides have spears in positions to thrust. The third is in front of the bear, close, spear broken, bear paw with claws outstretched on the way to adjusting the future to contain one fewer human being.
But I’ve digressed.
Modern art’s more subtle and a lot of it probably won’t last so long. To clarify the message, modern artists frequently add words. Not everyone’s able to just look at a painted likeness of a horney toad and recognize the underlying action, profundity, statement about the human condition represented.
A lot of people might, for example, glance at this and assume they’re seeing an automobile with red headlights belonging to some wealthy person, ready to toodle off to the hair dresser or enjoy a $5.00 cup of Latte somewhere.
But the reality is somewhere else entirely. That steel plate depicts a piece of modern life most folks never get around to acknowledging. KEEP TEXAS WILD is the only way the artist managed to convey the work has a deeper meaning.
Because what you’re seeing is men in Texas living behind bars, being gang raped by their fellow prisoners. Being forced to join White Aryan Brotherhood, the Crips, other prison gangs as an alternative to constantly having the crap beaten out of them, being forced to perform oral sex on the competing ethnic group, experiencing growth experiences of the anal sphincter.
You’re seeing prosecuting attorneys increasing their power, their office space, their staffs. You’re seeing opportunities for advancement to judgeships. You’re seeing money allocated to new cars, sophisticated weaponry, better copshops.
You’re seeing legions of defense attorneys wallowing around in money Scrooge McDuck-like, circulating the product through the system.
And you’re seeing corporate America at its best, building and operating private prisons. Discovering a new product while it was sending all the others outside US borders to be manufactured. A product able to be used over and over to feed the necessities of the artists: private hotels for the artists and guards to admire their work.
And a plea to keep Texas wild. Wild enough to need more of the same. Wild enough to keep the money rolling in. Wild enough to keep things interesting while the products enjoy brief interludes outside with the rest of us.
Seems to me overall that’s a pretty decent piece of art. Even though it’s obviously one of a numbered series.