Howl 08.20.17

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When my editors at The Virginian-Pilot decided to put together a preview of the solar eclipse, I set to work creating a scrap art assemblage that would carry the page.

I had a couple of important pieces ready to go: An old rusty sign that I had found on Ebay a couple years ago for my Tupelo Honey commission, “Eclipse Feed.” I had cut out the word “Feed” and was waiting for the right opportunity to come along for the rest.

I also had a beautiful, teal, wooden shutter with a cut-out crescent.

I had very little time to put everything together, so I designed the Sunday Break section on Wednesday and went to my studio the next morning and worked for about 3 hours putting everything together and photographing the finished assemblage. I think it must’ve been 95 degrees in there. The electric fan was full blast but it still felt like an Apache sweat lodge. I stripped down to my skivvies after sweating through my clothes… my glasses kept falling off and sweat was pouring down into my eyes… miserable!

The ogling gazer’s mouth is a wooden hat form donated to me years ago by friends Ed and Nancy Lazaron.

The tongue is a shovel head I found at the Chenman scrap metal yard.

I cut wood and metal scraps to make his nose and glasses.

The headline treatment just happened as I laid the artwork onto the page… I wanted a lunar reference that captured the excitement of the upcoming celestial event and HOWL matched up with the “O” shape of his gaping maw… but as soon as I saw the word, I realized the meaning of the daisy that I’d subconsciously placed in his hand.

HERE IS THE MEANING: George Tucker, the late, great historian and columnist at the paper, told me the story many years ago of the time Allen Ginsberg, the beat poet, visited the Virginian-Pilot during a lunar eclipse. Tucker accompanied the author of “Howl” outside, where, gazing up at the eclipse, Ginsberg raised a daisy he was holding and said, “So mystical. So real. No bullshit.”