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Janis

After my morning coffee, I go to my studio.  I sit in my wicker chair and smoke a couple of cigarettes before going to work on whatever is on the easel that day.  It’s quiet there and I like those moments. 

I have various pieces of art on the walls of the studio.  I’m not a great collector of art.  What I do have are mostly small pieces that have meaning beyond their dollar value.  One is a hand colored etching  by Debbie Little-Wilson, a friend.  It’s an image of Janis Joplin.  Lately, I’ve gotten in the habit of glancing at Janis while I’m waiting for the spirit to move me toward the day’s work.  I can never tell whether Janis’s smile is one of encouragement  or mockery.  I guess she’s become my muse.  Janis couldn’t paint either, so she’s appropriate .
Above the etching of Janis is an abstract by my friend, Ron Shuebrook.  We were in the army together.  He went on to be a big time artist in Canada, his home now, and in the United States.  He was nice enough to trade paintings with me.  I sent him a small image
of a bulldog.  Of course, I got the better of the deal.  I really like the blue and yellow swirls on the watercolor framed in white.  It’s a bright spot on the wall.  Above that is a collage by the artist Lisa Hughes.  It’s outstanding.  Collage artists don’t get the respect they deserve.
On another wall is a drawing by the political cartoonist Etta Grace Hulme.  I won it at an auction at our local school.  Etta Grace was born and reared in Somerville and went on to be an award winning political cartoonist.  The drawing depicts the local mascot, a Yegua,  riding a wildly galloping horse.
On the wall opposite my wicker chair above the sink is a large square abstract of my own.  It’s reminiscent of Rothko’s style of painting.  I think of it as the best thing I’ve ever painted, but suspect no one else would be interested in the painting---it’s so simple.
To the right of my wicker chair are pen and ink on hardboard drawings of my brother and my father-in-law.  Both have left us. 
Next to them is a tiny self-portrait.  It’s done in a technique I developed and
used for a while.  It’s a little dark, and I look a little deranged…well, I am a little.

There’s also a poster from the 2012 ACT auction.  I like posters.  I have several in a drawer in a cabinet in the studio.  I must get around to framing them.

Back to Janis.  I’ve always been fond of Janis.  I think Janis won me over with her song “Mercedes Benz” which she, along with poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, wrote.


                           

Oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.

My friends all drive porsches,

I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime,

no help from my friends.
So oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Oh lord won't you buy me a color TV.
Dialing for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until 3.
So oh lord won't you buy me a color TV.

Oh lord won't you buy me a night on the town.

I'm counting on you lord,

Please don't let me down.

Prove that you love me and buy the next round.

Oh lord won't you buy me a night on the town.


Everybody....

Oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive porsches,

I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime,

no help from my friends.

So oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.



Janis giggles after finishing her song.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find the song both humorous and sad at the same moment.

I just remembered, I did a painting of Janis some years ago.  My artist friend Tim Vanya traded a cat painting he was going to do for the image.  I’m still waiting for the cat painting, but I’m glad Tim has the painting of Janis.  He also likes her.

Janis was a Texas girl born in Port Arthur in January of ’43.  She was a bit of a misfit at Thomas Jefferson High School.  She graduated and went on to Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont and then on to the University of Texas at Austin.  She didn’t complete her studies there, but the campus newspaper profiled her in an article entitled “She Dares to Be Different” in which of her it is written, "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi's to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin."

Janis died in 1970 from an overdose of heroin and perhaps alcohol.  It was an accidental death.  She left $2500 in her will to throw a wake.

I’ve always thought of Janis as being much younger than me.  The truth is that I am only a few months older than her.

I make it a point to listen to some of her music every couple of months or so.  It makes me smile.


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