Saturday, June 14, 2008

Artisitic and Intellectual Freedom and the Santa Cruz Fire. Of course.

Last night, we came home from Davis and--after we had gotten over the Sunol grade, i.e., starting down the hill into San Jose and environs--the sun, I am not lying or exaggerating here, people--was the color of a magenta-doused-maraschino cherry.  It was threatening (in that I couldn't stop looking at it and was driving on 280).  It was beautiful, but strange.  And Andrew, upon looking at it, said something to the effect that it was not a good color (it was a good color, I assure you, if you are photographer or illustrator or you just plain like color).  What he meant was that it didn't bode well, and he was right.  The sky, at the time, looked just a bit overcast and smoggy...but, as we drove further into San Jose, it became increasingly overcast and smudgy and--eventually--sadly foreboding. (Just as Drew saw the sun.)  The closer to the Santa Cruz mountains we drove, the deeper and smudgier the sky became...going from a dingy light gray to a biliously hovering almost-india ink color. 

It got worse. When we got off the highway and turned toward home, I thought it looked like a bowl of clear water into which someone had dumped a nasty huge shovelful of mud. {In truth, pardon my saying so, this is what it really looked like: a toilet into which a particularly gnarly diaper had been unloaded.} It was really beyond awful. 

And the whole time the magenta maraschino sun floated overhead, sometimes plopping into an inky browned-out cloud, but always re-emerging to glow ominously, bloatedly, within this poor sick sky.

It was the second Santa Cruz fire that did it.  You could barely breathe outside, the air was so scratchy. (This morning, there is a layer of soot on our cars. We live an hour away from Santa Cruz.)

Later, as the sun went down, I went back outside to check one more time: the sky looked the way a sky would after a village had been burned and ransacked by the Visigoths or the Nazis or Genghis Khan.  The best thing to do was close up the house (which had been done already), turn on the a.c., and go to bed.  And be glad that you are not trying to evade the Visigoths, or the Nazis, or Genghis Khan and his horde.

What does this have to do with art? Okay. Let's see. Thank God for intellectual and artistic freedom, and the fact that we don't have to worry about our village being burned down if we don't co-operate with the huns. There you go. If that seems far-fetched, put on your thinking cap and realize that, at this very moment, somewhere in the world, someone with great vision is not allowed to speak or write or draw in freedom. 

We can, and it is a way of life that I don't want to take for granted.

Photo is of Mary Steichen; good sky, huh?