Beauty is Precedent

Red Rope 24x 24 inches acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg


Beauty is precedent.

Not so long ago a famous person (POTUS) misused the word.  Maybe it was the wee hours of the morning.  Maybe it was autocorrected.  Precedent and president DO sound similar.  But just to be safe here is the definition:

Precedent: an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.

Dangerous Spring by Gwen Meharg 36 x 36 inches.

“Beautiful works survive sans virtue.
Virtuous works, sans beauty, do not.  ”

In my last blog, I mentioned a book I am reading, The Invisible Dragon, Essays on Beauty, by Dave Hickey.  The quote is from the book.

It is a slightly challenging read.   I am reading with the book in my right hand and a dictionary in my left.    I seldom need the dictionary to understand the meaning of words I don’t quite know.  But if Jubilee were to ASK ME what the word means, I could not give her a definition.

I am on a quest for clearer understanding and a broader vocabulary.

Here is an example of a sentence that would have been awesome in the ORIGINAL Pirates of the Caribbean.  (I adored the original.  The words were so beautiful.  The sequels-every last one of them- are shameful, – absolutely SHAMEFUL!)  There are probably better examples, but I came across this sentence first.  Here goes Dave Hickey, “The vivid, corporeal verisimilitude of these paintings, striving to beguile an unlettered audience, striving to change without changing, enlisted ravishing sensuality in aid of sacred circumstances and created the fulcrum upon which all future critiques of “truth besmirched by beauty” would turn.”

Friends by Gwen Meharg 48 x 36 inches in collection of Reflections of Glory

Honestly, folks, it has been a long time since I used verisimilitude in a sentence.     Using Google to double check the definition I pressed the little speaker button for pronunciation and OOPS!  Let us just say, I had the syllables in the wrong places.  (In case you are wondering, ver·i·si·mil·i·tude: the appearance of being real.)  Popular usage of the word peaked in the late 60s and has been on a steady decline since.  (I wonder if vocabulary itself has been declining since the late 60s along with reading?)

I don’t know if I have heard corporeal outside of science fiction – ever!
Beguile, yeah, I got that one!  I LOVE the use of fulcrum.  I am going to look for an opportunity to use fulcrum in a sentence.

My Favorite Tree by Gwen Meharg 36 x 48 inches

OOOH! OOOH!  This blog is the fulcrum upon which I realized my vocabulary is sorely lacking and committed to using grown-up words.  (And the use of “grown-up” here exemplifies my dearth of vocabulary. )

1,009,614 words, give or take, in the English language.  Most adults English speakers range manage only 10-35,000 words in their vocabularies.  It is estimated that Shakespear had 66,534 words at his disposal.

I keep wondering if the extinction of words in our general vocabularies contributes to our lack of understanding what is going on in the world and understand not only others but also ourselves.

We train our young children in feeling words so they can express their feelings without throwing a tantrum.  I believe our limited vocabularies contribute to the tantrum-ic nature of politics.  (SEE! I don’t have a word to describe the whiny baby attitudes of our governmental figures.)

I wonder if declining vocabularies affects our ability to enjoy beauty.  Tony Saladino, one of my art heroes, says that until you can articulate what it is you love about a painting you will not be able to appropriate that aspect into your own work.

What if a limited vocabulary limits our ability to appropriate beauty into our lives?

Beauty is precedent.
Teach your children well.
Be kind to yourself,
the world,
expand your vocabulary.
See what you might not have seen.

Share your favorite words with me.  We can grow together.

PS  One of my favorite raconteurs, Dave Hickey.


What Lasts?

What lasts?
I am asking what endures.?

Words swirl,  inviting new possibilities.

Lasts becomes an action verb and begs, “Who?”  Who lasts?
Who and what ends the queue?
Last because of tardiness or lack of skill?
Last because others are lifted up?
Last because of circumstance or
last because of choice.

She lasts.
Mother Teresa lasted.

Bible training kicks in,
“The last shall be first.”
Does this mean the least shall have their recompense?
But I am pretty sure some think it is a tactic to get to the front of the line. (Servant leaders! PSHAW!)

Back to art since, in theory, this is an art blog.  No, artist blog and circuitous thinking is my process. The dancing words feed the art which, in turn, I desperately hope feeds hearts.

I am reading “The Invisible Dragon, Essays on Beauty” by Dave Hickey.  If you have not met Dave Hickey and the opportunity presents itself, I highly recommend you make the effort.  If you care to expend less effort, check Youtube for a plethora of entertaining, snarky and informative interviews.  Dave HIckey is saucy so if your constitution is delicate, you might not want to listen.  If your constitution were delicate you probably would not be reading what I write-so never mind.

“Beautiful works survive sans virtue.  
Virtuous works, sans beauty, do not. ”
David Hickey’s essay, American Beauty.

Beauty lasts.
Beauty endures.

Beauty lasts.
Beauty serves the least of these.

Maybe art is simpler than we think.

Maybe art is more complicated than we know.

Have a beautiful day.


PS  Grammarly does not appreciate me playing with words.  So many red underlines! PSHAW!


Credit Card Party WITHOUT Me

Yesterday my credit card partied without me.  Salt Grass Steak House- $100.  Followed by purchases at a bookstore and an advertising agency.  This morning, Goodwill – $150.  

Good grief.  After a strong start of steak and booze in Kennedale, surely my card could do better than a morning $150 purchase at Goodwill.   Breakfast at The Pancake House, at least!?!?

One time a debit card of mine traveled to Cairo and St. Petersburg.  THAT card knew how to live.

I am thankful that Wells Fargo’s fraud department called today even if they did interrupt my flow.  I am thankful that the charges will be reversed and that a new credit card is coming tomorrow via Fed Ex.

I KNOW Wells Fargo cheated thousands of customers out of money.  I KNOW they back the pipeline.  I have been trying to transfer all my money over to a credit union, but it is hard not dropping bills.  I also KNOW that the folks in my branch are helpful and today I talked to two helpful phone guys.  
Here is to first world problems.

May you always have more fun than your cards.

Peace out!  Gwen

PS   If the fraud department sends you a new card it takes five to seven days.  IF you call the number on the back of the wayward card, they will offer to expedite it for you.

One Less 7th Grader

The automated message from the Benbrook Middle High School principal came Sunday evening announcing the death of one of Jubilee’s 7th grade classmates.  No name. Details to be released later. Only the name was released.

I told Jubilee that when there are no details the death is often suicide.

Details were released concerning the Thursday night the viewing and Friday morning the funeral at the tv church in the old Food Lion grocery store.

Jubilee and I left Benbrook Middle High School (BMHS) at 10:45 Friday morning to attend the funeral.

(The school required the children turn in the bulletin from the funeral to have an excused absence.  Doesn’t it matter that the parent signed out and wrote FUNERAL on the form? There were too few bulletins so we collected a half-dozen signatures on a single bulletin and turned that into the office.)

Benbrook Middle High School is our local school.  It is one of the biggest, shiniest, newest schools in FWISD. I don’t know how it ranks on the bullying spectrum but, bullying is a problem. It used to be that the middle school years were cruel.  Cruelty is a k-12 game now.

I homeschooled my children for two decades.  It was hard.  It was really hard.

Having a child in public school is harder.

Jubilee and her friends practice maintaining low profiles. They don’t want to be noticed. They don’t want to become targets.

Invisibility is not a skill 7th-grade girls should have to practice.

The first week of school there was not room at the lunch tables for everyone. Children sat on the ground outside in the 100+ degree heat. The circumstances, ripe for hostility and bullying. The second day of school my daughter came home covered in chocolate milk spilled when boys fighting smashed into her while she was carrying her lunch tray. The school’s response?   I will paraphrase, “Meh.”

Two gymnasiums.  Not enough space to eat.

Last year Jubilee was bullied during PE. Male classmates tormented abused her for sport and for not knowing the intricacies of soccer. The teacher claims to have seen nothing. Everyday Jubilee was crying when I picked her up. How does a teacher not see that?  The teacher told me there was an imbalance of boys in the class and she asked the counselor for more girls. She knew there was a problem and STILL did not SEE anything?  My response, “Meh!”



She made it Jubilee’s fault that the abuse continued. She has to advocate for herself. She has to tell. She has to tattle. What does the teacher have to do? The young man who killed himself was in the same PE class. I doubt he faired any better.

Jubilee accessed her deceased classmate as one of maybe ten truly nice kids in the school. Smiling. Funny. NICE! Bullied.

Yesterday during lunch, a bully was teasing a heavy girl. The bully punched her in the stomach. She punched him in the nose-twice.  Good for her.

Bullying that was a problem the first week of school. Six weeks into the first semester and bullying remains a problem.

Homeschooling is hard.  Public school is harder.

Bullying picked up during the election cycle last year.  The vitriol escalated after the election.  Children yelling at the brown-skinned classmates, “Go back to Mexico.”  “This is our country,” “You don’t belong here.”

Waiting to pick Jubilee up after school I parked behind cars bearing enticement to vicious action against our current President’s running mates. Children read their parent’s bumper stickers and took the messages to heart.

Words matter.

The BMHS 7th grade curriculum has not gotten to the unit on bullying this school year.

We don’t talk about suicide. A suicide is a failure of family, a failure of friends, a failure of school, a failure of church, and a failure of character.

Suicide is taboo because a discussion about suicide raises too many questions and inflicts too much pain and guilt amongst the survivors. Suicide is complicated.

My head hurts. My heart aches. I am frightened for my child. I am frightened for your child. I am frightened that one of these bullies might grow up to be the President of the United States of America.

PS.  This painting does not yet have a title.  I see it as uplifting.  A triumph over circumstances.  A statement both bold and gentle.  It is 48 x 36 inches and $2800.  I chose it to go with this blog because of the raw nature of the piece.  One color.  Once pass.  The rare moment when experience and chance conspire to defy the routine and everything comes together on the first pass.

Most of us get more than one chance in life.
None of us gets more than one pass through life.

Make today count.  Sincerely, Gwen