An idea that demanded that I paint it

Gorilla at the Gate, 40" x 30", acrylic on canvas

Gorilla at the Gate, 40″ x 30″, acrylic on canvas

As I continue to develop as a painter, I have learned that I should listen to my subconscious, even if it’s not always clear exactly what it is telling me.

People sometimes wonder where I get my ideas as there is rarely any rhyme or reason to my subject matter. If an idea pops into my head, I’ll try and sketch it out – and if I like it enough, I then turn it into a painting.

With this ongoing coronavirus, there has been a lot of gloom and doom always in the news and often on my mind. Thoughts of my own mortality have drifted in – and drifted out.

Though I don’t know where this particular thought came from, the idea of a gorilla at a gate kept entering my mind. Not just once or twice. I’d wake up in the morning and there would be something nagging at me.

It was the gorilla.

Though I’ve never painted a gorilla before, I’ve always been fascinated by them, going back to my days as an animal show announcer at the St. Louis Zoo. Yes, I was the announcer for The Chimpanzee Show, The Elephant Show and The Sea Lion Show. It was great fun and I got to see a lot of these animals on a daily basis during my two summers of announcing the shows.

The Chimpanzee Show was held inside an arena that is no longer there. On the outside of the arena, there were orangutans, chimps and a great big gorilla called Rudy.

Rudy used to love to splash visitors from his wading pool. He would sit quietly next to it, waiting for a crowd to gather and then would saunter off a bit, only to take a running jump at the pool where he would then sweep his arm in and send a giant wave of water out towards the people.

There was knowledge in that gorilla. Perhaps that memory came to me as some sort of symbolic guard at heaven’s gate. (You’ll notice an ‘H’ at the top of the ironwork.)

“Have you been good enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” his stare seems to say.

Certainly I hope that he will let me pass when my time comes.

We all have a day of reckoning awaiting us. And I’m certainly not trying to convey the thought that this is any semblance of what heaven is or what it means to me.

It’s merely an idea that I tried to paint.

My daughter thought the painting represented Harambe, the gorilla that was shot and killed after it grabbed and dragged a 3-year old boy that entered his domain.

That works.

It’s just a painting. How you view it is up to you.

So, what do you think?

In addition to creating advertising and marketing communications by day, I also paint at night. My paintings have now been sold on three different continents and I’m excited about an upcoming solo show at Good Weather Gallery that opens on November 21st and will be on display through January 9, 2021.

If you’re interested, you can order prints of my work on Artfully Walls. You can also order prints as well as get my artwork put onto a variety of items like iPhone covers, pillow throws, tote bags, greeting cards, coffee cups, shower curtains and a wide variety of other items by visiting my other website on Pixels. As if that weren’t enough, more items are now available on Vida on an even wider variety of items – from umbrellas to yoga mats, clothing and jewelry to household items. I also invite you to follow me on Instagram to see work in progress from start to finish!

The St. Louis city-county merger debate rages on

To say that I have been surprised at the number of views of my recent post on the potential merger of St. Louis city and county would be an understatement. There have been close to 1,000 views in three days time.

Many people have expressed their thoughts. I have been commended by some and called flat-out wrong on the facts by others. I’ve been told that if the city merged with the county, that nothing would change regarding population statistics – the city limits would not be re-defined and there would still be the same dwindling numbers that the city has been experiencing. Same with the crime statistics. I’ve also been told that all the various cities within this area – the city of Dellwood, the city of Des Peres, etc. would all cease to exist and so things like the Des Peres Lodge would then fall into the realm of a St. Louis city managed facility – if indeed there were to be such a thing as several people tell me that it’s quite frankly impossible.

Then there’s the matter of some of our free institutions – the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, the History Museum – these are free to everyone but you know who pays for them? Taxpayers within the St. Louis city and county area. Many people contend that people who live outside the city and county area – say our neighbors in St. Charles or over on the East Side, should have to pay some sort of an entrance fee when they visit these public venues. They’re getting the benefit of the free admission, but paying none of the freight. Is that right?

I guess what I should do is contact our good mayor and perhaps our county councilman and ask them both their thoughts on whether or not this merger could ever take place and could it ever make sense for the area as a whole.

Because it’s the growth and prosperity of this area that is my ultimate goal. I want to see the St. Louis area rise to greatness once again. I want the city to become important again as a place of commerce and as the hub of the nation. I want the schools (both public and private) to prosper. I want major corporations to shift their headquarters here and startups to have the tax incentives to grow and the backing to make it happen. I want families to know this is a great place to live yet I want us all to have the opportunity to explore the world and learn from the triumphs and the mistakes that others make in their communities.

Yes, I am an idealist.

Maybe it doesn’t take a city-county merger to bust us out of our mindsets. Maybe it doesn’t require re-zoning for us to try and help our fellow St. Louisans.

And maybe I should just stick to writing about advertising and let this one go.

Still, I’m interested in the possibilities. Chelsie Helige told me there is a group called Tomorrow STL that’s a part of the Greater Gateway Alliance that is trying to get the city’s re-entry into the county to be on a statewide ballot in 2014.

Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens.