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I like to take walks down to the American River bike trail in the mornings. It lifts my spirits and gives me some health benefits. Along the way I cross paths with many other individuals and many of them will say “Good Morning” and go on their way. But there are always some people that don’t want to acknowledge me and I’m okay with that. I understand we all have times in our lives that we need to be alone or don’t feel like socializing and in this country we have the freedom to do just that; I feel that way sometimes. Some of these people will turn their face away and look at their phones or look down at the ground so as to have a reason not to give a greeting to a stranger. Some people are walking dogs and as I am passing a dog walker who is ignoring me the dog is looking straight at me and engaging me while the master is disengaged; amused by these impressions I was inspired to do this fun painting.
I worked on this painting for over a year, off and on, working on other paintings as well. The whole time I was still going on my walks gathering more ideas and characters. The breaks from working on it gave me time to mull over these ideas that I added or erased. One of the ideas that I thought about was the national discussion of race relations in the United States of America. There was some national discussion of systemic institutionalized racism prevalent in our country. I have not experienced or witnessed this situation in all of my years working for a large American corporation or my life in the USA. I am not saying that racial discrimination doesn’t exist here but it is not widespread or even experienced often in my small corner of these United States. The painting’s image has a black man walking a white dog and a white man walking a black dog. This is not some kind of social commentary of how one race color feels towards another. Any dog owner will tell you that they don’t care about the color of their best friend. If you see something negatively racial in the image maybe you are overly concerned about seeing racism where none exists.
The image of two people ignoring you, and each other, as they walk in your direction on a narrow street is a common sight and one wouldn’t think much of it. This image is a commentary on our current technology and social media society that gives us the opportunity to virtually interact, separated from personal reality. Where is this situation leading us? To be an individual turned inward and locked in one’s own world shows a lack of awareness and conscious presence. As a society we live as integrative beings with others and all of creation. In order to raise this consciousness level it bespeaks to me that we need to connect in a real and authentic way, even a simple gesture as a smile or good will sentiment. We all have our problems, but we can forget our concerns long enough to acknowledge others and reach out to someone else along the way. Given our own discomforts and those of others, a simple “good morning” greeting and a smile can brighten a stranger’s outlook for the day and lift our own spirits as well—a win/win outcome.
While walking about I’ll pick up pennies on the road that mostly go unnoticed or ignored by others. One cent isn’t of much value to most people, but think on this for a moment. The penny on the street is a character that adds to the composition of the painting. “In God We Trust” is our nation’s motto and is found on all of our currency. This is a statement that our society doesn’t place its trust in the state; a state that can be manipulated by a political group. Our Trust is rooted in a Higher Source.