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Alley Culture
AC News V15 #2
SPRING 2014


It is sixty-five years ago, you're ten years old and sitting on an old, half-blind, grey horse. All you have is a saddle blanket and a rope for reins as you watch a pack of dogs rage at the foot of a Ponderosa pine. High up on a branch a cougar lies supine, one paw lazily swatting at the air. He knows the dogs will tire. They will slink away and then the cougar will climb down and go on with its life in the Blue Bush country south of Kamloops. It is a hot summer day. There is the smell of pine needles and Oregon grape and dust. It seems to you that the sun carves the dust from the face of the broken rocks, carves and lifts it into the air where it mixes with the sun. Just beyond you are three men on horses.

The men have saddles and boots and rifles and their horses shy at the clamour of the dogs. The man with the Winchester rifle is the one who owns the dog pack and he is the one who has led you out of the valley, following the dogs through the hills to the big tree where the cougar is trapped. You watch as the man with the rifle climbs down from the saddle and sets his boots among the slippery pine needles. When the man is sure of his footing he lifts the rifle, takes aim, and then...and then you shrink inside a cowl of silence as the cougar falls.

As you watch, the men raise their rifles and shoot them at the sun. You will not understand their triumph, their exultance. Not then. You are too young. It will take years for you to understand. But one day you will step up to a podium in an auditorium at a University on an island far to the west and you will talk about what those men did. You know now they shot at the sun because they wanted to bring a darkness into the world. Knowing that has changed you forever.

Today I look back at their generation. Most of them are dead. They were born into the First Great War of the last century. Most of their fathers did not come home from the slaughter. Most of their mothers were left lost and lonely. Their youth was wasted through the years of the Great Depression when they wandered the country in search of work, a bed or blanket, a friendly hand, a woman's touch, a child's quick cry. And then came the Second World War and more were lost. Millions upon millions of men, women, and children died in that old world. But we sometimes forget that untold numbers of creatures died with them: the sparrow and the rabbit, the salmon and the whale, the beetle and the butterfly, the deer and the wolf. And trees died too, the fir and spruce, the cedar and hemlock. Whole forests were sacrificed to the wars.

Those men bequeathed to me a devastated world. When my generation came of age in the mid-century we were ready for change. And we tried to make it happen, but the ones who wanted change were few. In the end we did what the generations before us did. We began to eat the world. We devoured the oceans and we devoured the land. We drank the lakes and the seas and we ate the mountains and plains. We ate and ate until there was almost nothing left for you or for your children to come.

The cougar that died that day back in 1949 was a question spoken into my life and I have tried to answer that question with my teaching, my poems, and my stories. Ten years after they killed the cougar I came of age. I had no education beyond high school, but I had a deep desire to become an artist, a poet. The death of the cougar stayed with me through    (continued below)






Jerry Horn has traveled in fifty years from the “belching volcano” of Zug Island as a millwright to recording the subtle changes in plant, animal and water from the far end of industrial run off. river river gives an artist's vision of a river's life - the Suwannee River, whose headwaters are a swamp in Georgia that flows to its portal at the sea in the northern gulf coast of Florida, where he paints and photographs from his flat-bottomed boat studio.

Jerry was one of the early Cass Corridor artists in Detroit, attending Arts and Crafts from 61 - 63, then joined his family tradition, the Millwrights Local 1102 in Detroit, where his uncle and his father were presidents of the union in various years. Among many jobs, he “worked at Zug Island on the conveyers. Nutty dirty place. Massive black building belching out molten slag, like the house of volcanoes.” He introduced sculptor Victor Belisle and Pat Ratliffe to the millwright's union. He finished his undergraduate degree in art at Wayne State University and left Detroit in 1970 for New York, art, and Hunter College, returning summers to work. He stayed with the union eighteen years, joining the New York Local 740.

Jerry exhibited with OK Harris from 1974 to 1985, the first gallery to open in SOHO in 1969 in advance of the glitz, when the neighborhood was mostly artists living on the edge in makeshift lofts. “In the beginning, Ivan always had a lot of cash on hand to help artists get their lights turned back on. He also gave artists a choice of cash on sales or a stipend.”

Over the years he taught painting at Princeton, and painting and new media at Ohio State University. The new media work involves digital time based computer programs to control motion, sound, lighting. “I used this new media work in the type of installation shown with Susan Dallas-Swann at the Miro Foundation in Mallorca, Spain, and in NYC.” He also experimented with sound, creating and building his Monochord, recorded with poet Mick Vranich, and performed with it many times in New York.

During his years in New York he bought a cabin near Woodstock, NY, that he shares in summers with his mate and fellow artist Susan Dallas-Swann. “It's too dark and cold of a place to stay in winter.” In 2005 they found their place near the Suwannee River. He received his certification there as a Nature Coast Master Gardener, and helped the Master Gardener agency until he realized that it was another arm of the “Agricultural Industrial Complex.” While instructing citizens to save water, they dismissed studies that suggested metering the massive water use by industrial farms. Loss of fresh water is the central issue affecting the Suwannee bioregion's health.

He works in oil on linen, water colors, photography, iPad drawings, and works in both abstract and representational series. Jerry Horn's river river will show the real, the imagined and the disappearing in works on paper. There will be a live video feed from the river and Jerry on opening night.

Denise Corley

Denise Corley, Dry Aloe, 2006, 18 x 24“

(continued from above)     the years of my young manhood. Then, one moonlit night in 1963, I stepped out of my little trailer perched on the side of a mountain above the North Thompson River. Below me was the saw mill where I worked as a first-aid man. Down a short path a little creek purled through the trees just beyond my door. I went there under the moon and kneeling in the moss cupped water in my hands for a drink. As I looked up I saw a cougar leaning over his paws in the thin shadows. He was six feet away, drinking from the same pool. I stared at the cougar and found myself alive in the eyes of the great cat. The cougar those men had killed when I was a boy came back to me. It was then I swore I would spend my life bearing witness to the past and the years to come.

I stand here looking out over this assembly and ask myself what I can offer you who are taking from my generation's hands a troubled world. I am an elder now. There are times many of us old ones feel a deep regret, a profound sorrow, but our sorrow does not have to be yours. You are young and it is soon to be your time. A month ago I sat on a river estuary in the Great Bear Rain Forest north of here as a mother grizzly nursed her cubs. As the little ones suckled, the milk spilled down her chest and belly. As I watched her I thought of this day and I thought of you who not so long ago nursed at your own mother's breast. There in the last intact rain forest on earth, the bear cubs became emblems of hope to me.

Out there are men and women only a few years older than you who are trying to remedy a broken world. I know and respect their passion. You too can change things. Just remember there are people who will try to stop you and when they do you will have to fight for your lives and the lives of the children to come.

Today you are graduating with the degrees you have worked so hard to attain. They will affect your lives forever. You are also one of the wild creatures of the earth. I want you for one moment to imagine you are a ten-year-old on a half-blind, grey horse. You are watching a cougar fall from the high limb of a Ponderosa Pine into a moil of raging dogs. The ones who have done this, the ones who have brought you here, are shooting at the sun. They are trying to bring a darkness into the world.

It's your story now. How do you want it to end?

Patrick Lane, poet, Convocation Address, University of Victoria, 11.13.2013




Across the country, I've seen many small flags stuck to tents, as if to declare that this, too, was America, and of course it was, and becoming more representative by the day. Though they flaunt no political signs, these tents on concrete or grass are no less a statement and indictment than the Occupy encampments. In fact I'd say they are more so, since you don't have to read anything to understand exactly what they mean. No joking or contradictory messages distract from the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have been reduced to living like savages in this self-proclaimed greatest country on earth.

Linh Dinh, from “Postcard From The End of America: Los Angeles”


meeting:  
CASS CAFE
(831.1400 - Cass & Forest) art and talk
CAFE 1923 (2287 Holbrook - 319.8766) talk and read
OmniCorpDetroit (1501 Division, Eastern Mkt - open hack 1st & 3rd Thursday 8PM) hack talk
TELWAY (24 hour coffee - Michigan west of Livernois) city talk
Motor City Brewing Works (832.2700 - 2nd & Canfield) Wednesdays art
9338 JOSEPH CAMPAU (hours TBA) art & ideas
(full list here)





If you purchase a flat of plants, or a potted flower at a box store this spring, you may be spreading bee killing neonicotinoids. Many garden plants have been pre-poisoned with bee killing pesticides. Systemic pesticides, like Imidacloprid (a neonicotinoid) should not be used at all, and not be sold casually to uninformed consumers buying flats of flowers or vegetables. These sprayed plants for sale are not labeled.




“Roundup Ready (TM) is Monsanto's lead herbicide. That technology is failing rapidly. So now they're engineering resistance [in crops] to 2-4D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange, and dicamba, both of which are very toxic. This whole paradigm of chemical agriculture that you can plant the same crops year after year is completely unsustainable. You have to be able to disrupt and interrupt pest cycles in sustainable organic ways,“ David Bronner, the grandson of the excessive wordsmith decorating those Dr. Bronner's Soap bottles. Although the printed words weren't Jewish in thought, the Bronner family were German Jews and had their third generation soap factory “Aryanized” by the Nazis in 1940.


There are people wandering around Detroit at all hours of the day and night. See Detroit Area Rambling Network's dates at detroitrambling.net. The February ramble was the first one not in the city proper, but on the State's newly acquired Belle Isle. The original park designs were drawn by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1881-1882. His plans were partially completed, which can be felt moving from the western end to the wild eastern end. Until the State took it over last month, it was the largest city island park, and larger than Central Park also designed by Olmsted. If the City paid $200,000 for the island in 1879, how much should we have charged the State? Next ramble April 6.

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