Opinionated? Sure!

When I was in Scotland last fall, I visited the National Gallery there, as I do whenever I travel to a new country, (honestly, the galleries are practically THE reason I visit some places) and realized that I had a deeper love of certain types of landscapes. I mean, I’ve always liked certain landscapes, but it was never my thing. Truth be told, I actually liked the paintings more than I did the actual views of the Scottish Highlands!

I’m kicking myself for not writing down the name of a particular piece, and painter that was exhibited -which I was sure was Edwin Landseer, but is not…

Landseer’s ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ is indeed exhibited there; (it is one of the preeminent images of Scotland, after all) and because the painting I can’t remember is of that era, and quite similar in style, I mistakenly thought it was his. Sadly, no. I’ll keep looking.

So, on to Landseer -which is where I’m trying to get to with this post, if I can ever manage it. He was, and still is, known as a painter of animals, and so, a lot of his stuff has been appropriated by animal lovers, who, it seems, just want a nice picture of a cat. ’Nothing too threatening, either.’ Too bad. Look at the colours! The technique! The sense of humour! The fatalistic irony! Plus, he seems to have been influenced quite a bit by Turner, which is always a good thing in my books.

A couple of nights ago, I was talking to my artist/teacher/friend John Scott (pictured above) on the phone, and the gist of all of this shit that I’ve been babbling about here, was part of the conversation. At one point, I started feeling a little anxiety over expressing an opinion of liking something that was enjoyed by millions for (what I, as a slightly knowledgeable art snob should regard as) all the wrong reasons.

Then I caught myself. What the fuck is wrong with me? Why the hell should I give a shit about whether someone likes, or dislikes what I think about certain types of art? I was inadvertently wedging myself into a kind of art world Mexican stand-off!’ “The first hombre who dares have an opinion, gets blasted to kingdom come!”

Fuck that! I’ve got an opinion. I shouldn’t be afraid to express it. In fact, I’ve even got opinions about opinions. Express yours. Don’t get sucked into the elitist bullshit -even though the temptation is great, of thinking that because you don’t know a lot about art, you shouldn’t be able say you like, or dislike something purely for reasons that are your own. I like (and I don’t know why) Gerhard Richter, but I also like Geo. Herriman’s Krazy Kat!

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the last thing that John would ever do would be to stick up his nose about whether one liked something or not. His whole purpose in life seems to be getting people interested in art. Not AN art, but THE art.


Neglected tasks

Like a lot of people these days, I’ve been doing things around the house that are usually neglected, overlooked, or postponed. Since the plague swept through, I’ve painted my apt., steam cleaned the carpets, washed all the windows, and tons of other stuff too insignificant to mention. Eventually, I really started pushing it by doing some things, not so much because they needed to be done, but because I thought they could be done better.

That’s when my attention shifted to my cast iron frying pans.

I’ve always had at least one cast iron frying pan; unless you lose it, or leave it behind, if you have one, you’re always going to have it. My mother had a bit of cast iron kitchenware, so I guess that’s where I first found out about them. There’s something a little different about them, as I immediately found out. As a kid, when it was my turn to was the dinner dishes, I learned that you don’t just dry these things off with a towel like other pots and pans, you’ve gotta heat-dry them on the top of the stove, then toss in a bit of oil, or vegetable shortening to keep them properly seasoned. 

I don’t think my mother was particularly attached to her cast iron stuff, -neither am I, I think she just thought of them as solid tools that would last, as I do.

This little guy, I found on the street years ago. It was coated in rust, and where it wasn’t rusted, it had a massive buildup of black crud. I took that as a challenge! I cleaned it off, and re-sealed it, and it works great. Here’s his centrefold glamour shot:

And here he is in action!

Oh, and the best way to seal a new cast iron pan? Here’s how I season the big guy…


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