Alex Janvier  Acrylic on Canvas  1991

On July 11, 1990 a group of Mohawk protestors defended the sacred pines of Kanehsatake near  the town of Oka, Quebec.  What began as a small group protecting land turned into a 78 day standoff involving the military, tanks, tear gas,  a dead police officer, and a stabbed 14 year old girl.  All of this to expand a nine hole golf course to 18 over ancestral Mohawk land.

For hundreds of years the Mohawk lived in Kanehsatake, long before the French trading posts and missions.  In 1717, King Louis XIV granted the Mohawk land to the Sulpicians, who eventually sold the land to expand the village of Oka.  The King of France, the Mohawk continue to argue, had no right to gift land that was never his.  253 years later, a segment of those sacred pines were in danger of being bulldozed over.  300 year old ancestral burials were to be exhumed.  They had had enough.  It was time to make a stand.

A small road was blocked and a barricade was constructed.  This was not a major street or byway, it was the road used by the construction company set to clear the sacred pines.  A small band of Mohawk people protested. And then the SQ were called in.

The SQ, the Sûreté du Québec, are the provincial police.  It would be like the mayor of a small Illinois town calling in the state cops.  Their response to a barricade was to use tear gas and concussion grenades.  This led to a brief fire fight, which left Corporal Marcel Lemay dead from a gunshot wound under his bullet proof vest.

The SQ retreated, leaving several vehicles and a front-end loader.  The protestors used  this piece of heavy equipment to smash the police cars and form a bigger, more secure barricade.  Not only was their barricade strengthened, their physical numbers strengthened.  As word spread of the force used by the SQ, more Mohawks assembled in the pines.

But in addition to the growing barricade in Oka, the SQ had a new barricade to worry about.  In solidarity with their brethren from Kanehsatake, the Mohawks of nearby Kahnawake set up a blockade of the Mercier Bridge.  This seemingly small action of unity made the biggest impact they could ever think of.  Without the Mercier Bridge, the Island of Montreal was cut off from the suburbs.  Others from neighboring communities including Akwesasne blocked other major thoroughfares.  This essentially stopped everything–traffic, commerce, and patience.

On August 14, over a month after the protest began, military support was requested.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were deployed.  By August 20, tanks were rolling in.  Aircraft was flying over taking pictures of the encampment. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire.  The bridge remained closed.

But on August 29, the Mohawk of Kanehsatake were dealt a blow.  The protestors at Mercier Bridge negotiated an end to their blockade.  This left them not just vulnerable, but something worse.  They felt that without the blockade, they would lose the one thing they had gained during that month–a voice.

For 300 years they had no voice.  The French, the priests, the settlers, none had listened, none had cared.  For one month in 1990, people finally heard.  People finally saw.  They had something they never had before–media coverage.  Every single day the protest was headline news.  And although the loss of Mercier Bridge meant they lost their leverage, they gained exposure from the bridge closure by their neighbors they would have never gotten on their own.

On September 26, 78 days after the resistance began, the Mohawk protestors walked out from behind the barricade.  There was confusion as some of the warriors did not come out peacefully as agreed among them.  Some were allowed to simply walk into Oka, others were rushed, beaten.  Waneek Horn, a 14 year old girl, was stabbed in the chest by a soldier as she clutched her terrified four year old sister.

See, the protestors were not all young men.  They were not all young.  They were not all men.  There were families, children, elderly.  At one point during the crisis, it was the women that calmed the tensions, mothering both the warriors and the soldiers.  The Mohawk, as part of the Iroquois confederacy, look to the women as the “caretakers of the land and progenitors of the nation.”  This was a fight of the entire Mohawk nation, not some unruly gun slingin’ Indians.

In the end, the Canadian government purchased the land.  The developers received $5.3 million for the land.  The Mohawk nation received nothing.  The mayor of Oka, Jean Ouellette, was actually re-elected after the crisis.  Many cite the growing racism and resentment toward the Mohawk as the reason for his win.  In June of 1991 Canada established the First Nations Policing Policy to “provide First Nations across Canada with access to police services that are professional, effective, culturally appropriate, and accountable to the communities they serve.”  The Oka crisis served as a catalyst for this development.

I highly recommend the movie Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance found here: Kanehsatake.   It is full of footage taken inside the protest and was released in 1993.  It really brings to the forefront things that outsiders would never understand.  For instance, I was struck by a scene where an officer is speaking French, a Mohawk woman is speaking (what I presume is) Kanien’keha.  They both turned to heavily accented English and both became frustrated barely understanding what the other was saying.

In another scene, a young soldier sits in a tank and watches as a man walks around him carrying a stick with a feather as part of a group of spiritual leaders that came from Mexico in support of the Mohawk.  The man reaches up and places the stick inside the turret of the tank, feather hanging down.  After the man walks away, the soldier removes the stick, but instead of throwing it down or breaking it, he places the stick in a similar position lower on the tank.

Waneek Horn-Miller, the 14 year old girl stabbed on the last day,  went on to represent Canada in the Pan-Am Games and then became the first Mohawk woman from Canada to participate in the Olympics.  Francine Lemay, sister of Corporal Marcel Lemay who was shot on that first day, had a chance encounter with a Mohawk woman who had served as a negotiator during the crisis.  Not only did the two go on to become friends, Lemay eventually translated the book At the Woods’ Edge into French.  It is the oral history of the Kanehsatake Mohawk people.

I can’t begin to scratch the surface of all there is to tell.  Here are some more suggested articles:

Waneek Horn-Miller 

Oka Crisis

25 Years Later

Moments that Matter

Alex Janvier is considered a Canadian native modernist.  He was one of the first Canadian First Nations artists to have formal training at a professional art school–the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art–where he graduated with a degree in fine art with honors in 1960.  He is Denesuline, from Cold Lake First Nation, and is part of a collective known as the Indian Group of Seven.  (I should write a blog of them.  Look for that in the future).

At eight years old he was sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School.  (Yes, they had those in Canada too.  No, they also don’t seem particularly proud of it.)  Luckily for Alex, the principal there noticed his talent in art at an early age and encouraged him to hone his skills.  By the time he was a teenager he was being tutored by a prominent college professor.  In May of 2019, a public grade school in Edmonton officially changed its name to Alex Janvier School in his honor.

The corners of this work on the outside of the circle are quintessential Janvier.  Brightly colored flowing paint that conjure visions of psychedelic meandering streams somehow also appear to be figures or animals or neatly mowed fields.  Janvier has often also worked with circles, even having entire shows and exhibits full of round canvas.  The medicine wheel is painted as intricate lace in four colors as the four directions. But the wheel is something else here too–crosshairs.  And in the very center, the target, is a child.  The child is clung to by two adults, all of which are in the center of the profile of a figure with a large white feather at the nape of the neck.   This piece, O’Kanada, was painted in 1991 in response to the Kanehsatake Resistance at Oka.

Read more about the artist and his work here: Alex Janvier

Follow him on Facebook here: FB Janvier Gallery

I love this portrait of Alex Janvier taken by Aaron Pierre in front of his work O’Kanada. 

Alex-Janvier by Aaron Pierre









Elizabeth Peratrovich, We Can Do It

Apayo Moore  Acrylic  2014

On July 4, 1911, a great American hero was born in Petersburg, Alaska.  Her name was Kaaxgal.aat.  She was of the L’ukwaax.ádi clan in the Raven moiety of the Tlingit nation. Her passion, perseverance, and tenacity led Alaska to become the first state or territory in the nation with an anti-discrimination act.  Although I’ve seen many articles stating New York was first, The Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 pre-dated The New York Human Rights Law by nearly a month.  It was signed on this day, February 18, 1945.

Orphaned at a young age, she became Elizabeth Wanamaker when adopted by a Presbyterian minister and his wife.  She went on to marry Roy Peratrovich, whose mother was Tlingit and father was Serbian.  Together, they formed one of the greatest civil rights power couples of the 20th century.  Roy became the mayor of their town, Klawock, and later held other positions in the territorial government.   They each became Grand President of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, respectively.

When they moved to Juneau to seek more opportunity after they both received college educations, they were met with racial discrimination.  They were unable to find adequate housing in an appealing neighborhood due to “no Native” policies.  Signs on local business read “no dogs and no Natives allowed.”  Like so much of this country at the time, discrimination was blatant and wide spread.

In 1941, Elizabeth Peratrovich petitioned the territorial governor, Ernest Gruening, to ban “No Natives Allowed” signs.  The Anti-Discrimination Act was defeated in 1943.  In 1945, their fight continued.  It was at this time Senator Allen Shattuck, who opposed the bill, said the following.  “Far from being brought closer together, which will result from this bill, the races should be kept further apart,” he said. “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind us?”

As the Grand President of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Roy was asked to give testimony in front of the senate.  Roy testified, “Only Indians can know how it feels to be discriminated against. Either you are for discrimination or you are against it.”

When he was finished, time was allowed for anyone else to give testimony.  Legend has is it that Elizabeth put down her knitting and asked to speak.  She was the last to give testimony.  By all accounts, she was composed, confident, and extremely persuasive.  Her most powerful words though, came indirectly from Senator Shattuck.

“I would not have expected,” she exclaimed, “That I, who am barely out savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights.” She then went on to recount the discrimination she and her family faced.  When Senator Shattuck asked if she thought the bill would eliminate discrimination all together, this was her reply.  “Do your laws against larceny and even murder prevent those crimes?  No law will eliminate crimes, but at least you legislators can assert to the world that you recognize the evil of the present situation and speak your intent to help us overcome discrimination.”

When she concluded her testimony, the chamber broke out in thunderous applause.  The bill passed the senate and was signed into law.  It would be nearly 20 years before the Civil Rights Act took the same steps for the country as a whole.

Elizabeth Peratrovich died at the age of 47 of cancer.  In 1988, Alaska began to officially recognize February 18 as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.  Her husband, Roy, died nine days before the day was officially celebrated.

To see the actual bill, click here: Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act

To read an in depth article by Dave Kiffer on the subject, click here:  Sit News

Apayo Moore is an Alaskan artist of Yup’ik heritage.  While continuing her education in Colorado, she became aware and gained more understanding of how Pebble Mine threatened her subsistence lifestyle in her home village near Bristol Bay.   She uses her artwork to educate and spread awareness about the possible destruction of her traditional way of life.

This painting is, of course, a riff on J. Howard Miller’s  traditional We Can Do It poster featuring Rosie the Riveter. Like Rosie, Elizabeth flexes her right arm while holding up her sleeve with her left hand.  While they both have a similar hairstyle held back by a red bandana, Elizabeth Peratrovich’s bandana and the red shawl around her shoulders includes a traditional representation of Tlingit art.

Instead of a plain yellow background behind her, a variation of the Seal of Alaska.  The boats on the water have been replaced by an oil rig.  The blue waters are muddied with black oil. A bulldozer full of dead salmon takes the place of the farmer and horses.

A variety of white staked signs dot the landscape.  They list names of Native Alaskan court cases against the state of Alaska and the Department of Natural Resources. Most prominent, HB77, is known as the Silencing Alaskans Act, which stripped the Alaskan people of their right to have any input on how their natural resources were used.   It passed in April of 2017.


To learn more about Apayo, please visit her website here: Apayo Art

For more information on how to help protect Bristol Bay, please click here:  United Tribes of Bristol Bay

To learn more about HB77, watch this video: Silencing Alaskans

**Description of painting:  A yellow background.  In the foreground is a Native Alaskan woman.  Her black hair is bound in a red bandana tied at the top. The red handkerchief has a row of black stylized bird head outlines around the top. Her grey earring dangles from her right ear. The front of her hair peeks out beneath the bandana in a twisty curl on her forehead.

Her right arm is flexed, she makes a fist.  With her left hand she lifts up her black sleeve to reveal her bicep.  Around her shoulders is a red shawl with a large Tlingit bird depiction.  Near her neck is a very small button that says Pebble Mine with a red line through it.

Partially obstructed from view is the State of Alaska seal as described above.  A large blue text bubble above her with white text reads, “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.”  Elizabeth Peratrovich.

The painting is signed in grey in the lower left corner, Apayo 2014.**

**Description of Seal of Alaska:  A circular design of mountains, water, and farmland.  The yellow sun shines behind the mountain and reflects on the water.  In the foreground, a farmer plows a brown field with two horses.  On the water, two ships.  To the left, tall green trees with a white building.  Behind them, a train and a smelter.  Around the circle is a grey border that reads “The Seal of the State of Alaska” and has a small black and white drawing of a salmon and two seals.**






Andrew Brandou Acrylic on Wood Panel 2007

On this day in 1978, November 18, over 900 people died of cyanide poisoning administered in an act of “revolutionary suicide.”  Many were under duress.  304 were minors.  None were given a choice.  Today is the anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre at the Peoples Temple in Guyana.

Jim Jones considered himself an “apostolic socialist.”  After meeting criticism in Indianapolis he moved to San Francisco.  There, he gained public and political support. In 1976 he moved his cult to the English-speaking but far left leaning Guyana.  “Jonestown” was billed as a “socialist paradise.”  The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project was formed.

Paradise it was not.  The members were required to work long hours of hard manual labor as the soil was poor.  There wasn’t easy access to clean water.  Days were spent working, watching and listening to communist propaganda, and listening to a near constant broadcast of Jim Jones himself over the town’s speakers.  And you could not leave.

As family members and friends back in the States got more and more worried, an investigation was launched.  Senator Leo Ryan led a group of his staff, media, and members of a concerned relatives group.  After days of negotiation, Senator Ryan was set to return to the States. He stated that his report would be mostly positive.  However, he had with him 14 defectors.

The health and particularly mental health of Jim Jones had declined.  This investigation and the defection of his followers sent him down an even more dangerous, but probably inevitable path.  As he was apt to record himself, the “death tape” details what next transpired.  One of the “defectors” was a plant.  Senator Ryan and four others were killed.  Nine others were wounded on the airstrip.  There was no chance for Jonestown now.  No one would survive.

In addition to those five killed at the airstrip, 909 died at Jonestown– two by gunshot wound, the rest by ingesting a combination of Flavor Aid and cyanide.  I am opting to not describe the acts of adults toward children or any other further description.   The details are disturbing.  You can listen to the tape and hear the adults talking calmly while children scream.  I don’t need to describe it to you, you can look that up.

This painting by American artist and illustrator Andrew Brandou is so creepily haunting.  It’s part of a series entitled “As a Man Thinketh, So He Is,” which depict several different scenes at Jonestown before the massacre.  You can see the entire collection here.  As a Man Thinketh.

Brandou paints in a style similar to old children’s books.  They remind me a lot of the Little Golden Books, which I think is partly why I find them disturbing, but somehow beautiful at the same time.  This painting, Medication, shows a variety of animals queuing up peacefully to their death.  I think this is an illusion to Jim Jones’s so-called “rainbow family” and his integrationalist ideals.

A mother cat with a screaming kitten, an elderly dog glancing nervously at the already fallen bodies of his comrades, a vixen nurse looking determined to complete her job.  A hare looks behind him to a bear with a gun.  The bear seems to be the only one smiling.  Interestingly, Jim Jones himself isn’t present in this painting, as he is represented as a lion in the rest of the series.  Possibly an acknowledgment that he himself didn’t die of poison, but an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

One has to wonder if this could still happen today in this world of constant communication.  But then I think about all those that blindly follow what a talking head tells them, regardless of the absurdity or improbability or down right immorality.  There may never be another day when so many people physically drink the proverbial Kool-aid, but people drink in poison every day.  Turn off the constant propaganda being broadcast non-stop.  We don’t have to listen to that voice.

Learn more about the artists of Jonestown here:  Jonestown Art



Entry into the City

John August Swanson  Acrylic   1990

Today Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of Jesus.  He and the Disciples are journeying to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  They have recently come from Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

In the days it took Jesus to reach the city of Jerusalem, the story of the miracle of Lazarus spread quickly.  The teachings of Jesus were already somewhat known in the area, and His arrival caused quite a commotion.  When it became known that Jesus was entering Jerusalem, the people went out into the streets to see who He was, and to welcome Him.  The people spread cloaks and branches for His donkey to tread on.  They sang Psalms and celebrated.

Palm Sunday is my favorite liturgical day of the year.  When people hear this, they generally think it is because it’s a happy, celebratory occasion.  That is not the reason.  It’s actually much more ominous and reflective.

I have a horrible fear of mob mentality.  I always have.  I hate crowds and crowded spaces.  I might blame it on reading Lord of the Flies when I was a bit too young.  More likely, it’s from watching a terrifying episode of The Twighlight Zone entitled “The Shelter” (also at a young age).

A group of friendly neighbors turn on each other when the Civil Defense makes an announcement that an object is heading their way.  They assume they are facing the impending doom of a nuclear attack, and desperately seek help from the only family with a fallout shelter, the same family they teased moments before for its existence.  I probably watched that episode twenty-five or thirty years ago, and I still have nightmares about it.

What does this have to do with Palm Sunday and the happy ride into Jerusalem on a donkey by Jesus?  For me, it’s a stark reminder of how quickly things can change, especially when people aren’t thinking for themselves.  In just a few short days, Judas betrays Jesus.  But more importantly, the crowd, this very same crowd cheering, turns on Him and call for His life.

One reason I think they are so easily swayed is because of their lack of information and knowledge about who He was.  While they joined the exalted cheering and singing of Psalms, they yelled out, “who is it?”  Matthew’s gospel says there was a pretty generic answer given, “Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”(Matthew 21:10-11).

This reminds me of being in the airport and seeing everyone grab their phones and rush to get a photo of someone you don’t recognize.  Someone throws out a name that is vaguely familiar or a movie or TV show you’ve heard of, so you grab your phone and get excited as well.  But when someone else somehow becomes more popular for a day or two, you suddenly find you’re more interested in Barabbas the thief than the prophet you were infatuated with days before.

You follow the whims of the crowd, however uniformed, however dangerous.  This is what Palm Sunday teaches me.  Think for yourself.  Be informed.  And be leery of masses of people who don’t.

John August Swanson is a painter and serigrapher.  I’ve nearly used his paintings for this blog for several different Christian holidays, but for various reasons have always chosen something else.  He has an immense body of religious work, but also some secular as well, including an excellent circus series.

I love that his work is influenced by his mother’s Mexican tradition, but mixed with a look of Russian iconography.  The facial features remind me of Medieval religious work, but the color palette is more Mexican folk or early 20th Century American Regionalism.  It gives the feeling of representing a historical event, while simultaneously seeming modern and current.

My favorite part of this painting is the clouds.  I think that’s why this painting fits me so much better than most other paintings of the triumphal entry.  They give the feeling that something is about to change, something is coming.  It might be a celebration now, but something foreboding lies ahead for Jesus.

So while we celebrate, let us look to what we know the rest of the week will bring.

Swanson detail
Detail of Entry into the City

See more of John August Swanson’s work here:  John August Swanson

Read the Biblical texts of the triumphal entry here:  Matthew 21:1-11


Can’t Get Enough


Cbabi Bayoc  Acyrlic  2012

For this Father’s Day I want to introduce you to one of my very favorite local artists, Chabi Bayoc.  I’ve been a fan of his for several years, starting when I worked at Blick Art Materials in Clayton, MO.  Not only is he an amazing artist, he’s just a nice guy.  And you know what, when you work retail, just a person being nice can make all the difference in your day.

In 2012, Cbabi Bayoc made a New Year’s resolution to paint a father figure every single day for a full year.  His project, entitled 365 Days with Dad, produced wonderful representations of dads with babies, children, adults, and teenagers doing everything from sleeping, playing, kissing and singing.  Every single one is a happy moment, and they’re all beautiful.

I had such a hard time choosing one, but there is something about this baby that I just had to share.  I love how the facial features are so geometric, and that’s picked up in the background design.  The texture of the father’s beard just makes you want to reach out and touch it.  And the black outline around both figures just makes everything pop.

You can see all 365 paintings here:   365 Days With Dad.  You can also read an interesting article from St. Louis Public Radio here:  Public Radio.  Cbabi also has a book featuring several of the paintings you can pick up here: When I Become a Dad

I just can’t NOT add this painting too.  This one is entitled Urban Nature Walk.                                                                                                      Happy Father’s Day!  

urban nature walk cbabi

Sally Ride

sally ride

Simon Kregar  Acrylic on Canvas  2015

Happy Birthday to one of the greatest woman in American history, Sally Ride.  She became the first American woman in space in 1983 on the space shuttle Challenger.  She also continues to hold the record for youngest person in space at the age of 32.  Sort of makes you feel a bit like a slacker, doesn’t it?

If you think that makes your feel like a slacker, being an astronaut is just one of the great accomplishments of Sally Ride.  She was a pioneer in STEM education long before “STEM” was even a thing.  She co-wrote multiple books and even tried her hand at a bit of acting in an episode of Touched by an Angel.

NASA began accepting and actively seeking female candidates in 1978.  Sally Ride was one of six in that first class.  Every one of them made it into space, including Judith Resnik, who died on what would have been her second trip during the Challenger explosion.

As part of the Challenger crew in 1983 and 1984, Sally Ride was the first woman to use a robot arm in space to retrieve a satellite.  There is a super cool Google Doodle animation that shows a representation.  Check it out here:  Sally Ride.

She was eight months into her training for her third mission aboard Challenger when the shuttle exploded.  Following the accident she was part of the presidential commission that investigated the accident.  She is also generally considered the only person to stand behind engineer Roger Boijoly, the engineer who warned of an imminent disaster due to faulty 0-rings before the shuttle launch.  She was also part of the commission after the Columbia explosion.

But her real contributions began after she retired from NASA.  Starting in the 1990s she was actively involved in encouraging  young girls and women to pursue careers in science fields, particularly space.  In addition to her books for kids and young adults, she also worked with NASA to start the KidStat program, now called the Sally Ride EarthKAM, which stands for Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students.

EarthKAM encourages students to actively participate in NASA missions.  Originally designed for shuttle missions, the project has been picked up by the International Space Station. It allows students to direct the camera on the ISS and take photos.  See lots of cool images and learn more here: EarthKAM.

In 2001 she co-founded Sally Ride Science, a non-profit designed to inspire young people, especially girls, in science, technology, engineering and math.  They offer summer camps, classes, and tons of resources for students and teachers.   You can take advantage of those resource on the this website: Sally Ride Science.

Simon Kregar is also actively involved in STEM education.  Primarily a space artist, he belongs to a genre of artists called Neuroesthetics.  Essentially, they use neuroscience to explain why we like what we do when it comes to artwork.  It’s really quite fascinating.

What I love about this painting is her skin tone.  If you look closely you can see five, six, ten different colors mixed perfectly to create the highlights and shadows.  He also does a great job at capturing Sally Ride’s amazing smile not just in her mouth but also in her eyes.  And I absolutely love how well he represents the light and reflection on her microphone.  It’s perfect, just like a photograph.  Check out more of his awesome space art here:   Simon Kregar

Today, Sally Ride would have been 65 years old.  She died in 2012 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.  Today we celebrate the life of not just an astronaut, but a pioneer in education for girls, especially in STEM fields.  Happy Birthday, Sally.  You are truly what stars are made of.


As a side note, in the 1960s there was a group of women training for space, going through the same rigorous training as the men.  However, they were not officially part of NASA and by a violation of their civil rights were not allowed to proceed with their training.  (Look for a post on Lovelace’s Women in Space Program sometime in the future.)








Paul Meijering  Acrylic Painting  21st Century

There is very little I can type about Prince Rogers Nelson that hasn’t been typed or said a million times today, so I’m going to keep this one short.  The Minneapolis native was a prolific artist with eight Grammy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and one Oscar.  His parents, both of which were jazz artists, fostered his talent from an early age.  For the last 15 years he has also been an active Jehovah’s Witness.

He is one of the most underrated guitarists of our time, possibly of all time.  I would strongly encourage you to bust out all your old Prince CD’s, Cassettes, and LP’s and listen to the amazing guitar solos and riffs.  He wasn’t just a voice, he was an amazing guitarist, as well as percussionist, bassist, pianist, fashion icon, and music business icon.  His impact on modern American music will continue to be present for generations.

Paul Meijering is a Dutch portrait artist most well known for his football (soccer) portraits.  He has painted numerous musicians, movie stars, and sports stars, and pop culture icons.  I love the angle and perspective in this painting.  It gives the feeling of sitting in the front row of a Prince concert, looking up at the flamboyant costume, the perfect skin, and that amazing guitar.

Generally, Jehovah’s Witness do not believe in life after death. According to jw.org, “We are mortal and do not survive the death of our body. The life we enjoy is like the flame of a candle. When the flame is put out, it does not go anywhere. It is simply gone.”  Prince’s flame may have gone out, but he is not gone.  Prince will live on forever through all of those he influenced.  Rest well, our dear Prince.



Jackie Robinson

John Gampert  Watercolor  2009

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball and became the first African American to start a game outside of the Negro League.  After starting the game at first base for the Dodgers he ended the year by being awarded the very first Rookie of the Year.  He would go on to become a six-time All-Star, MVP, and play in six World Series championships.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, the first time he was on the ballot.

Even more interesting to me is his military career.  He was drafted in 1942 and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit.  He faced discrimination when applying to the Officer Candidate School, but was eventually accepted with some help from Heavyweight Champion and friend Joe Louis.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and joined the prestigious, though segregated, 761st “Black Panthers” Tank Battalion.

However, he never saw action on the front lines.  In 1944 he boarded an integrated Army bus, but was ordered by the driver to the back of the bus.  He refused and faced a court-martial.  Read that again.  He refused to move to the back of a US Army UNsegregated bus and faced a court-martial.

His commanding officer refused to authorize legal action so he was quickly transferred to another battalion with a commander that would.  The Black Panthers Tank Battalion went on to be the first black tank unit in World War II and obtained high honors without him.  Eventually the charges were reduced and he was acquitted by an all-white panel.  I guess this prepared him for what he was up against while facing racism in Major League Baseball.

The artist is John Gampert, an American illustrator.  He’s best known for his paperback book covers, including many, many Star Wars books.  Although it is sometimes listed as an acrylic painting, it seems to  obviously be watercolor.  Since he was an illustrator I suppose it could be acrylic ink, but I can’t seem to find much definitive information.   You can also find this painting sometimes cropped to just show Robinson’s portrait.  I like the whole painting so you can see a little of Ebbets Field and some of his teammates.

UPDATE:  I have verification from the artist’s son Erik that this IS acrylic.  Thanks for the information, Erik!  If you would like to order a copy of the print, you can do so here:  John Gampert

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!


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