Dan Barry’s Art: My First Recall Of Pansies

Most people I know either condemn social media, secretly rely on it, or just refuse to contemplate change. Even the diehard protesters, though, seem to have come around. They may never admit such, but will all know that secretly they explore Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Once that happens, the die is indeed cast.

I have been on Facebook since the summer of ’09 and on WordPress since early last year. (Prior to that I posted my blog, Tartuffe’s Folly, on Posterous which was bought out and dissolved.) In the five years I have established many new relationships or rekindled others. Many are with artists from all over the world of Hopeful Surrealism.

Austin artist Dan Barry was the first such new friend. The introduction particulars escape me but, as they say in the South albeit deeper than here: “That don’t make no never mind.” Since then I’ve “met” many people and respond usually to those that share my obscure aesthetic or humor.

Dan’s collages at once stirred me with their emotional nostalgia and the gentle, extremely thoughtful assembly and ink details. They are wonderfully augmented with modernisms and often conflicting points of reference.

The first of Barry’s ethereal collections that reeled me in was one involving pansies, rich hues, and meticulously printed and tiny text. Anthropomorphism is, perhaps, my favorite type of Surrealism, at least in that it often appeals to the child within. Many of the older, Victorian examples can be more clever and detailed than contemporary ones.

But I digress, as is my nature.

I will skip my sweet, initial recollection of pansies, their faces, and their world. I’ll save my initial feelings about being an older brother. My sister Polly was a newborn and I was in kindergarten in Chapel Hill. The elderly couple across the street devoted their entire front yard to their love for the deceptively sturdy flower. They were my best friends at the time, at least until I was in first grade.

The 1500 sq ft lot became a brilliant, multicolored, and intricate canvas, save for the cobblestone path. I could sit on that patchwork bed for hours. I’d readily imagine that I was in some magical kingdom, safely tucked away in Chapel Hill. (Mind you, that “elderly” couple was probably in their 40’s at the time.)

Their surname is long lost in the cavernous recesses of my memory. As I mentioned, I won’t bore you, Gentle Readers, with further details.

I do remember, however, visuals that evoke my young emotions and wonderment. A snapshot of our neighbors’ flowers is on page five of my life’s secret album. There might even be one of that velvet bower’s infinite blooms pressed between pages.

I’ll also always remember Dan and his beautiful work. And the subtle paths our friendships follow.

(All images are by Dan Barry.)

Barry’s 2014 Shows Include:
Welcome to the Dreamtime – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
– Galeria Safia, Barcelona, Spain
Mysterium Cosmographicum – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Small Indignities – Red Truck Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Post-It Show
– Giant Robot, Los Angeles, CA
Don’t Wake Daddy Group Show
– Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany


That Ugly “D” Word: Unleashing the Beast Within

Jon’s cellphone rang at 10:30 this morning, with his loud and excruciatingly bothersome Abba ringtone. Normally, that wouldn’t make any difference to us. However, we went to sleep around 5:00am so we were both in deep, deep REM slumber.

The call was from the Transplant Coordinator so she “had us at hello.” She went on to inform us that I’ve been removed from the heart transplant list. I’ll remain in such an uninsured purgatory until I either get health coverage, most likely either from the Affordable Care Act or Medicare, Part D.

Trust me, neither option is affordable at least to Jon and me. The coordinator just doesn’t understand that a $457 monthly premium is a large portion of my disability check. The Medicare plan is almost as expensive and unrealistic. Sacre bleu! Perhaps, an emphatic “Zut Alors!” is more appropriate.

I guess what followed resulted from the stress of the situation, its incurred bureaucracy, and the three month Medicaid runaround. Every Wake County employee has given me conflicting answers from those from the previous caseworkers. Let me skip further details of Medicaid woes and get to the heated phone conversation.

Both Jon and the UNC representative were soon lashing out at each other in a tone that was just this side of a shout. Jon just wasn’t having any of it. The beast within was awakened and released from self-control and any semblance of calm.

Within a few hours, Jon had written and sent extremely detailed emails to anyone from Medicaid as well as the NC Dept of Health & Human Services. His letters are epic. They have been known to give representatives from Progress Energy, AT&T, Time-Warner, and our two US Senators pause to even initiate a challenge to his queries. His “epistles” are fiery, thorough, and about as loud as the written word can be.

Add to that: Jon called a local TV affiliate to present the situation to the advocacy reporter. Of course, any resulting news segments always pull heartstrings and incense viewers.

It is now almost time for “Jeopardy” after over six hours of frustration, anger, sorrow, and the endless stream of empty words from unsympathetic government workers. Here I am, my heart functioning at only 10% and the state administration gives the idea that they jockey their responses until the client either gives up or dies. Seriously. My beloved and I use the “D” word cautiously and sparingly. Today, however, there might as well have been a banner on every webpage, text, or email with a big fat scarlet “D” emblazoned on the heading.

We both know quite well that the battle will continue tomorrow and into the weeks to come. Seeing is believing.

Jon is now exhausted if not spent. His dander is up, up, up. His aura is tainted and spoiled He is, however, poised for the fight ahead.

Welcome to my world, at least as it’s been since early last summer.

On this warm autumnal evening, I thank the Universe that I now have a better bark and growl.

(Image: “Tyrant Lizard King” by Andrew Sullivan, 2014.)