Category: General

Happy Halloween!

Some years ago I took this photograph at a place of honor and history, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in North Boston, Massachusetts… established in 1659.

Spiders, skeletons, and school superintendents will give you a terrible fright!

Spiders, skeletons, and school superintendents... will give you a terrible fright!

To the kids, moms, and dads of Melrose, Massachusetts, where Halloween has been canceled in public schools in order to promote “inclusivity.” Do not be afraid of those goblins and ghosts, just look ‘em in the eye and say… BOO!

That’s The Way The Kamala Cookie Crumbles

This blog is dedicated to my views on art and culture, but on this rare occasion I must include the culinary arts. On her June 6, 2021 night flight to Guatemala on Air Force Two, Vice President Kamala Harris wanted to give a sweet treat to members of the truehearted media onboard, you know, for their loyal service to “the big guy.” An unnamed pâtissier provided the perfect baked goodie—the pastry chef conjured up a gourmet cookie bearing the likeness of the Veep herself. Of course, it is based upon the official Vice Presidential portrait photo.

“Kamala Cookie.” Photo of cellophane wrapped cookie passed out by VP Harris on AF2. The image is evocative of René Magritte's “vache” paintings. Don’t ask me, look it up on DuckDuckGo. Photo credit: @cmsub

“Kamala Cookie.” Photo of cellophane wrapped cookie passed out by VP Harris on AF2. The image is evocative of René Magritte's “vache” paintings. Don’t ask me, look it up on DuckDuckGo. Photo credit: @cmsub

This was not your typical small, flat, round, factory-made, lowly cookie you buy in a proletarian convenience store. This cookie was regal, a patrician cookie, a culinary masterwork to haunt politicos for eternity; though it may crumble under the slightest pressure. The cookie’s icing undoubtably contains synthetic food dyes Blue 1, Red 3, and BS 2020, which may negatively impact behavior in children, so I do hope none of the journalists give their cookies to their kids. The journos however are safe, as they have grown tolerant of BS 2020.

The oversweet Kamala confection—I am speaking of the cookie, is shaped like an emblem. While no one knows what it is emblematic of, the multitudes who love sugarcoated things will appreciate this badge-like cookie. In fact, it might be the only sacchariferous badge they will not defund. An average “foodie” may think the sugary glaze distracts from the visage of a faceless VP, however any connoisseur of oligarchical collectivism understands that sometimes “facelessness is usefulness” when it comes to the oblivion of politics—no matter how saccharine the taste.

Reports say a disgruntled member of the AF2 wicked kitchen staff smuggled a Kamala cookie off the plane. It was disguised as a double decker cheeseburger. Since the Veep embraces the Green New Deal objective of reducing meat consumption, it was easy to offload the “burger” and secret the camouflaged cookie to the last independent journalist in America, who by the way has been deplatformed. Fellow gourmets, do not worry, it will all be soon forgotten. Bon appétit!

Free… well at least in your mind.

I was asked to contribute a cover drawing for the Spring 2021 issue of the Santa Monica Review, and decided on a simple, black and white portrait drawing of a present-day young black woman. I named the likeness “Free.”

"Free." Mark Vallen 2020 © Pencil on paper.

"Free." Mark Vallen 2020 © Pencil on paper. 17" x 21" inches.

The title is a declaration—that only when we break the chains in our minds do we step towards freedom. The oracle of Funk, Sly Stone, put it best in 1969: “Don’t you know that you are free, well at least in your mind if you want to be.”

If you take the portrait as nothing more than a straightforward, realistic drawing, I would be satisfied. One of my objectives as an artist is to return figurative realism to its rightful place in contemporary art, but my artworks have always had a social dimension focusing on the human condition. So why would I deliver my philosophical musings on liberty by placing the portrait of a youthful black woman on the cover of a nationally distributed literary arts journal? The better question is, why wouldn’t I?

My drawing is an expression of gratitude, an acknowledgement by an American artist that he wouldn’t be the man he is without the influences of an infinite number of black artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers. And while I’m handing out thank you notes, allow me to toss the rest of humanity into the mix.

Happy holidays and…

Ferguson photo by Associated Press ©