Monday, February 12, 2018

Sixth Grade Meanderings

A little autobiographical tiptoe from the artist, Brian Western.  In process...cartooning in Miss Fink's Sixth Grade classroom at Agassiz Elementary School.  That's Ernest in the background...abstracting from reality.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Observations in a Waiting Room

Andy Boy Broccoli asked for a ride to a dental hygiene appointment at a Gentle Dentistry location in Hopkins, Minnesota.  Yes…I said, and plotted a route that bypassed The Lowry Tunnel…through downtown and somersaulting down Olson Memorial Highway to Highway 100, et cetera, et cetera.  And the perfect prop for sitting in the waiting room? a library copy of Richard Brautigan’s Revenge of the lawn and other stories of surreal import.

honeycomb whorl, blue leaf fandango

My first observation, before Mister Broccoli was called into the inner bowels, while filling out the pertinent medical insurance slips this and that:  I was the only person in the waiting room with an old fashioned paper bound book (old fashioned flip phone in the front pocket of my cut offs).  The lady that had gone out to check something in her parked Mercedes Benz flashed an iPhone that she alternated between screen scrolling, and making and taking phone calls.  The regal looking African American fellow that had arrived on our heels with a dog tired look on his face finding that he was late for his appointment, and would be fit into the schedule if he cared to wait…smartphone.  A teenage girl waiting for her mother to reappear was playing games on an iPad, and various pedestrian types engaged on various pedestrian mobile devices flicking through page after page of…what? not sure…heads bowed in reverence and fingers flicking...

Mercedes Benz lady announced to the desk, “I have two daughters inside…one has lots of anxiety…I’m going outside to make a phone call…make sure they know I haven’t left, if they come back out into the waiting room.”  And sure enough, the daughter with anxiety written all over her face appeared through the mysterious door into the waiting room.  Her mom quickly pushed through the glass door from outside to greet her, “Are you afraid…are you scared?”
“Don’t worry…when you go back in, they’ll stick a needle in your gum, so you won’t feel anything.”
“It’s going to be alright…oh, your brother is calling…Hello…no, you can’t order a pizza…absolutely not…there’s Mac n Cheese in the freezer…oh, I thought you liked that? it’s the good kind with cheddar cheese…well, you can’t order a pizza…good bye.”
And then the other daughter…older than the anxiety girl, and seemingly oozing confidence.  The mother asks her how it went…she says, “I talked the whole time…”
“Well, you know me…” and that seemed to satisfy the mother.

photosynthesis percolation...

Meanwhile, Mr. Broccoli had been summoned, and I began reading about Jack and bees and bees stinging Jack…
The bees somewhere along the line had picked up the habit of stinging Jack two or three times a year.  They would sting him in the most ingenious ways.
Once a bee got in his wallet and he went down to the store to buy some food for dinner, not knowing the mischief that he carried in his pocket.
He took out his wallet to pay for the food.
“That will be 72 cents,” the grocer said.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Jack replied, looking down to see a bee busy stinging him on the little finger.

Honey bee buzz thrum...

Looking up, as the front door opened, a middle-aged woman stooped and dragging an oxygen tank arrived at the front desk.  After the usual pleasantries, she turned and surveyed the waiting room, and (of course) made a bee line to the chair next to me, “Excuse me…sorry,” she said sidling past and easing into the seat to my left.  Oh good, I thought to myself, she seems harmless enough, and polite.  But then the talking to her large mobile device began in earnest.
“Oh ho…I don’t think so…I’m not going to buy you…ahahahahah,” and so forth. The girl across from us, quickly inserted earbuds and spiraled into a reverie of her own.  And then the oxygen lady’s tablet fell from her hands tumbling onto the floor, “Oh ho…butter fingers, that’s me…come here you…everything seems to be fine…nothing broken? oh, goody…now what do you want to sell me? I don’t think so…eheheheheh.”

One eyed rabbit? or squinting rabbit? you decide...

By now, I had arrived at page 50…The Scarlatti Tilt…
“It’s very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who’s learning to play the violin.”  That’s what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

While Django tiptoes with two fingers...

At any moment, I expected Salvador Dali to enter through the front door…mobile device in hand and magical moustache twitching!  And then Andy was back, and we were practically twirling out the door into the parking lot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Past the slough...memories and stained glass sun catchers

Search Bees in the Western Art Glass Etsy shop

Once upon a time, I was twelve years old and riding the train from Minneapolis to Winnipeg by myself. This was the summer, upon returning, that I discovered ham on rye. Little did I know that this would be the happiest time of my life. An entire summer with my grandparents to myself in a small town in Saskatchewan. My grandfather was the high school custodian. His claim to fame? after he retired, and they built a new school in the town, they named it after him...I enjoy the cosmic juxtaposition. Meanwhile, my grandmother nurtured my best behavior...something my authoritarian father was unable to do with thick leather belt spankings...and canoe paddle whacks!  A glorious summer....

Past the winged black birds dive bombing...the old elementary school and the skating rink where his mother curled. In the back lane the lads were digging a tunnel, while Buckshot Davis explained the birds and the bees...tenuous and mystery shrouded. Retracing steps...stories from the abandoned shell...footsteps and clarinet.

...while a squirrel nervous tail fidget stutter step like some kind of Pistol Pete...sudden memory of accompanying my grandpa into the dim cafe owned by Chinese immigrants in small town prairie town. wooden sidewalks. smoke hung from the pressed tin ceiling like cumulonimbus clouds. Dominoes and bell shaped glasses of dark amber beer. and outside the heady aroma of Spring seeping from emergent photosynthesis. and eventually my sixth grade teacher, Miss Fink, aroused an unknown sense of perfume and nylons. Drawing little cartoons...intoxicated.

The back lane behind the sheds (one converted into a bedroom for me) of my grandparents house...dirt and rutted brought you to Buckshot Davis' Pops petrol station. Directly on the other side of the lane...the Langenburg Museum. A giant garage...neglected for years, had allowed the gang of twelve year-olds from town to get inside. We discovered a trapdoor into a bare room with a couch and chair. This became our clubhouse. Many hours were whiled away with squirreled comic books, soda pop and potato chips.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stained Glass Suncatcher - Entomologist Gift - Aphis nerii - Aphid Suncatcher -Insect Gift

Spectrum Waterglass® to animate an Aphis nerii (select one per listing), with copper legs, antennae...cornicles and mandible entertain with Antique glass. Approximately 5" x 5" including the appendages...and it's off to the races...or is that a Marx Bros. movie?
Stepping back: "Hi there,
Can you make custom stained glass insects? I would be interested in a few individuals of Aphis nerii."

And after sketches rendered, glass selected and nibbled into submission...a couple aphid designs sold to the professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Department of Entomology at Cornell University...and you don't have to be a professor to order your own custom made insects, or, birds, fish, monsters, dancing hotdogs...whatever is lurking in your subconscious...for your consideration...this listing is for one...but go ahead and grab both, if that makes you happy!

 Stepping way back: Hold on to your grinning insanity was what I had written on my 11th Grade Creative Writing I finish soldering Aphis nerii No. 2...I'm wandering the halls of Rosemount High School circa 1972...following a girl that would later become my sister in law, twin sister to my wife...I didn't know there were two of 'em...and Aphis nerii No. 1 and No. 2 begin a strange hypnotic tango...perhaps you have something strange rattling around your cranium?

And even further back: Flashback late 60s, early 70s...Killmer's Northern Nursery...I'm 14 years old. Killmer's is known far and wide as the place for dahlia bulbs...trees, balled and burlaped! Fred and Lydia are the 70 year old brother sister hirelings that know everything! My buddy, Wade Shepard, and I are sent to move some trees into a pick up truck. When we arrive on the scene...Ewwww...the tree trunks are crawling with aphids...hundreds of 'em! Fred strolls over with a giant pair of leather gloves and proceeds to exterminate 'em with his bare...ahem, gloved hands! We stand back in awe!
RECAP: Choose one, or buy both for yourself, your favorite entomologist...a great gift for your SciFi pal...mother in law...insect gift for a giant ladybug? you bet! Stained Glass Suncatcher - Entomologist Gift - Aphis nerii - Aphid Suncatcher -Insect Gift
To make your selection? The second image (Cartoon Drawing) indicates No. 2 and No. 1 (why is No. 2 first and No. 1 second? good question!)...and of course, buy as many as your heart desires!
Somersault, tiptoe, highwire act to WAG's Etsy shop...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Next Door Neighbor's Coniferous Daydream

Once upon a time a silver haired osprey dreamt of slippery elm...well, more like the squirrels that were trimming Brian's elm tree, and scattering elm leaf branches on the backyard lawn. 

The croquet hoops had been squirreled away in a remote corner of the deteriorating urban garage spider webbed rafters.  Urbane keyed padlock by Medeco.  And that's when a bluebird arrived on the T in the middle of the yard.  The T had memories of clothes dancing in the nostalgic wind.

And the T made up a haiku in honor of the goings on...

Squirrel Nutkin...why?
why are you so mischief-bound?
please sashay next door

...which tickled Osprey and Bluebird's funny bones.  When a passing stag beetle said, "Funny bone," I was reminded of hitting mine while navigating the stairs in my adobe ghetto hacienda this morning...half awake.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Thresher shark and repartee...

A Young Turk sets the coordinates for an encounter with a seasoned, slightly rumpled purveyor of most things almost in focus (the little immigrant peering through life's foggy blur into the future of things).  A jumble of say what? standing in line at the Sea Salt Eatery with catfish po'boys dancing in respective craniums...crawling out from a Cassavette's movie with talk-overs and surprised looks from gawkers and sideways talkers.  The swirl of an eddy from Werner Herzog's Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes and the trapeze artist in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire...I seem to have lost the thread...the thresher thread. we are...

Howdy Mikey-

Here are the much ballyhooed preliminary cartoons for so called Xmas gift for woman with a penchant for Thresher Sharks...dumplings optional.  First foray is sometimes the best...sometimes there are reconfiguring and pencil gymnastics, modifying and mollifying, as the case may be.  I usually keep fine-tuning up until the last moment...generally in my underwear and under the tutelage of Celebration Ale.  So...this being the first warning of impending back and forth, with gleeful shenanigans lurking around every so called corner.


Good work, fine fellow.
These cartoons excite me immensely. I really like the sense of movement and violence in the second toon. The last toon has a nice benevolent quality, and I think the first is somewhere between the two, an ominous prowler. Now seeing as Miss Fitzpatrick does indeed have a penchant for Thresher Sharks, I'm almost leaning toward the second toon, as it may best capture the true nature of the Thresher. But alas, I need to think this over still. What are your thoughts? I don't think further configurations are necessary; all three are great.
In the meantime, I'm trying to come up with a short-silly-little poem to accompany this. Here's what I have off the top of my head:
way down yonder, my dear
at the bottom of davy jones locker, i fear
there resided a shark, in the dark
who was on the threshold of a lark
when by a stroke of magic
he became a work of art
I'm tinkering with this as I work; if the tinkerer has any tinkering suggestions, let me know.

As for the glass, it looks wondrous.

I looked through a trough of images just now, yes? and agree with you that these three offer enough jabberwocky to go around.  Of course the lines will continue to be fine tuned, eh? until a light goes on inside my cranium.  I like your take on the three cartoons...we will continue to percolate and see what emerges, co?  I'm guessing Miss Fitzpatrick is going to dig the short poem of silly writty...and I'm guessing you are no longer at work tinkering or tinkling in your own men's room.  to be continued...

G'morning, Brian.
After a night of deep, dark sleep, I must say my attraction to toon two is even greater. How's the lightning storm in your cranium? Do you think one of the toons is particularly well-suited to a stained-glass creation?

Gluten-free morgen meine fine feathered fiend-

I'm making a little pollen laden honey bee right now...then it's to the post office, New French Bakery for crusty/chewy bread for this evensong, and of course--Zipp's!  and then...I think I will play with the tale of Thresher's uncanny tail!  I'm going to modify the lines in between no. 2 (your head-nod), and no. 1 (Michelle's thumb-up) for an option I will call no. 1 1/2.  as far as stained glass is concerned, eh? they should all translate into stained glass with nary an accented misstep.  so...I will plan on bringing sketches and glass samples to tonights' festivities.  and don't forget to hit the big wide strum, pal.

A hybrid sounds most interesting, my dear toon-tinkerer, somewhere between the prowl and attack, with the violence slightly diminished and the hunt heightened. I'm all thumbs and nods. I look forward to the prospective sketches and festivities that the evening will bring. I'll be fetching the Concertina-man after work ~ what time will you be arriving at the gathering? What time should the 'tina and I arrive?
toodles and pips,
Mikey's always interesting to throw another toon into the melange, yes? even if you stick with an earlier one!  it's the percolating system, you know?  Tonight's official kick-off is 6:30...plan accordingly with accordion-like maneuvering.  Bee's in the box, and now to exit this box for adventure driving (hopefully no one will hoist their middle finger in my direction on this outing) through the bowels of South Minneapolis....

Well, well, my fine voyeuristic friend.
I see you're watching me through a foggy haze.
Keep in mind, I'll be doing the finger-hoisting if the evening is without Threshers, Celebrations & crusty chewies. Until then, I hope the bowels of S. Minneapolis aren't rumbling too much and, moreover, hopefully there's much merry-making and revelry of the thresher-variety in your layer of tinkering.
I'll be curious what kind of tunes will be bouncing off your walls with this one...

Full steam ahead!  pattern is eager to realize actual glass pieces...let the shards begin to fly ("Where's my safety goggles," he googled with slight smile peering from unkempt tendrils)...

Dear Mikey,

Gray glass is in the so called can...tomorrow the white underbelly and the copper foiling convention!  The snapshot is to give you a rough idea of the process--it's a poor-man's light table with crummy lighting!


Hello there, Brian.
Once again, you've tantalized me with your tinkerings. Crummy lighting included, this looks great. Looks like he bursted right out of oceania. Keep me updated and snapshot, sir, as this all excites me ever so.
G'day and g'luck,

Copper foil fantasy is about to commence--Fellini's Hat Band in the background coaxing Nino Rota.  Then march in place as the solder serenade initiates...segue clean-up mazurka and await the inevitable high fives and bum pats--eheheheheh.  ummm...don't be alarmed by little black dots on a few of the pieces--they will not be there after soldering.

Hello again, amigo.
Has the Thresher waltzed into near completion? I'm eager to see the results of the copper foiling and soldering, so as to procure high fives and bum pats in all their glory. Every update is looking more frightening (and beautiful).
Once this one is in your proverbial bag, we'll have to meet up and drink up (on me, of course). Perhaps tomorrow evening...perhaps another usual, no hurry.
~ Mikey

Hola Young Turk-

I'm baking the eye onto the head...when that is out of the proverbial oven, the soldering festival will be in full swing--another couple of hours, and the bag will be reading proverbs and other exclamations.  Is tonight out?  I have a couple of large Tripel Karmeliets that could be paired with a pizza at your place for good effect.


I'd love to indulge in Triple Karmeliets and pizza, but alas, tonight is out. Any chance that combination would work tomorrow evening? ___ Holly Ave is calling your name...
Do let me know, sir.

Proceed with indulgement ceremony for tomorrow night...I provide the slurp, and you provide the burp!  Time of festivities?

So anyway...the light outside was practically gone when I snapped these fotos, resulting in strange color anomalies.  It should prove equally funky at night as in daytime...that's what the brochure says, hein?

Hello my short statured (or is that saturated?) other words--Howdy Mikey!

I was reading a description for one of my leaves...

...and thought you might enjoy a reference to a swarthy complexion--ahahahah!  Well....where be the Thresher lurking?  are you still pleased? did you hope it would be larger?  are your palms itchy?  say what?  Seems another outing is in order?  Tripel K on tap at the Glockenspiel with Dave Boquist doing the pouring!  Good day...

Brian (short limbs and fierce disposition)

ps...I just sold a couple of bugs and was able to incorporate this into the acknowledgement letter to the customer...

"Riding the euphemistic rail on the same day that George Francis Bornemissza (Hungarian-born entomologist) was born. In other words...they will be on the way tomorrow"

...and a year later...

Of course every commission is different...and they're all enjoyable in my so called book (Ecclesiastes and excerpts from Anselm's Ontological Argument).  Some are straightforward with hardly a blink of the eye.  And some have more zig zags than a cartoon character chasing flies (whatever that means, eh?)!  I'm sitting here waiting (clothed and in my right mind) for your call to action!  Keep the aspidistra flying, and happy trails....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Interaction Series . . 1

And three and a half years after my last post?  Crazy, strange, sweet interactions in the process of realizing an art glass piece from scraps of memory, paper, dreams, and happenstance.  The first in this series started life when an honest to goodness librarian pieced together the idea for a trout necklace, incorporating recycled glass from a Two Hearted Ale bottle.

Maria modeling a prototype trout necklace

"SO excited to have found your etsy shop after randomly finding a flickr photo stream featuring earrings (beerrings!) made with glass from Bell's Two-Hearted Ale bottles--and THEN I saw this necklace. I can't imagine a better way to display my Michigan pride and abiding love for the best IPA ever than to have a trout necklace that strongly evokes the Two-Hearted label, AND that integrates a bit of glass from a Two-Hearted bottle...Possible? Thanks for your input."

Strangely enough...I was visiting friends last night, when they trotted out a bevy of Two Hearted Ales. I commented on the glass (a nice wavy nuanced subtle pattern), and blurted out, "Aren't feisty librarians the coolest!?!" Okay...that last exclamation didn't happen, eh? but to add nibble to the slosh, a plate of smoked fish from Lake Superior, along with water crackers and goat cheese was bandied about! Cosmic convergence? keh keh keh (Turkish for wheeeeeee!)! In other words...what an intriguing puzzle to solve, yes? 

Let me percolate how this can be accomplished in an artful manner! The combination seems irresistible...hop explosion! Possible? I say a resounding, "Yes ma'am!" 

Feisty Librarian sporting the finished necklace

NEXT Post...Thresher shark and repartee...