Monday, May 12, 2008

Circus Patriotism

UPDATE: 10 DEC 2014
For some unknown reason, I saw today that the sphinxes are back to being an all-white or ecru surface. They may have been painted over, or perhaps they were faced due to their being next to the new baseball field. All I will say is that I couldn't be happier. See picture below for a glimpse of their original state.

For now, all we can ask is why.

Back in the day, my grandfather and uncle were Masons and members of this Scottish Rite Temple on Santa Fe Avenue, across from the new History Museum. In fact, I believe my grandfather probably helped paint the building at one time or another. He initially became a Mason after the Shriners aided the family and my father through a hip ailment that was diagnosed when he was 12. Dad was in the hospital for over 9 months, had to relearn how to walk, and missed a year of school. At the time, the hospital was where the police station is at Five Points (Piedras at Montana.) In the years that followed, my grandfather always supported all the Masonic and Shrine fund raising (circus tickets, etc.)

My great aunts told me that they all worried my dad would not be able to walk after his operation--essentially the hip was fused to the leg. But now, dad still walks, albeit with a limp, and tells me about all the places they lived during the Depression as my grandfather, T. A. Jackson was a painting contractor, who later owned a motel on Alameda--The Glenwood Motel. Years later, my grandfather worked with my uncle and the company became T. A. Jackson and Son. They painted a lot of beautiful buildings and homes in downtown El Paso, Rim Road and Kern, Coronado Country Club, Mission Hills, and the Upper Valley. I don't think they would have especially liked this new paint job, although Clinton would have probably laughed at the sight of them now.

After my grandfather died it was just Clint Jackson, Painting Contractor. Clinton continued with the business until he retired in the 1990s. He died last summer after a long battle with emphysema and a painful and debilitating cigarette addiction to unfiltered Camels. His funeral, as was my grandfather's, was officiated by both their military branch and this Lodge. Clinton and T. A. (and my cousin Janet, Clinton's daughter) are buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Thomas Allen served in WWI; drafted in its second wave. But he contracted malaria (most likely during training in Louisiana), and never left the country. As for Clinton, he joined the navy when he was 16; served for a short while in the South China Sea as a cook, and came back to tell a lot of stories to his buddies at his favorite Doniphan Street BBQ joint. I never heard them; all I remember were his steely blue eyes, his way of drawing Chinese-styled letters, and that he was very tall (6'4").

In the end, I wished the Lodge had left these two gentle sphinxes alone. For as far as I know they had never been tagged or damaged--now they are red, blue, gold, and beige and look like they are ready to lead a circus train into town--perhaps in front of what now is police headquarters. At least I have several images I took with my Holga, Agfa, and digital cameras. They show them uncoloured and calm.

That is what I will remember, not this fraud of circus patriotism painted by a smirking charlatan on Mothers Day 2008.

Isola :: Texas Sphynx
This was a new camera for me when I captured this Masonic Sphynx.
The little german camera has no light leaks.


Penguinbaby96 said...

A good rule of thumb is to do some investigation before you publish anything. You do not know the reasons behind why they were paint or if they were in need of repair or not. It is rather disappointing when people jump to conclusions.

carolyn rhea drapes aka chacal said...

actually, i don't feel need to follow anyone's presumed status quo rules. and if you know reasons then get your own blog and counter argue there. secondly, this photo blog presents both visuals and my textural reactions to what i observe/photograph. i simply write and post images. this facilitates memory generation of personal histories. posts reply only to what i observe, shoot, and now recall, which is what blogging enables.

therefore, i feel no compunction to call up any organization and find out what their intentions were, are, or hope to be, especially when it enters the realm of public visuals, whether sanctioned (or not) public "art," street writing, or hegemony inured from traffic and commercial signage.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...