What if? What then? Where now?

I would like to paint on surfaces that are not rectangles… this painting I’ve just finished (see work in progress, below) ) … I’d like if some of those shapes on the edges were cut into the rectangle, so the shape of the painting and it’s support are not two different things. I don’t have the tools or the means to realize this.

For so many years I’ve lived in the city, with few opportunities to get out–and none for any length of time. I watched a video of David Hockney talking about Van Gogh… and found myself wondering, how different my paintings might be if I were to have spent this time observing woodlands and fields and open waters–or if I were to move out of the city and spend the rest of what little is left of my life in a cottage by a lake in the woods.

This painting, and #1206 below) of the last suggest new ways of organizing what I see… new for me, at least, and making me feel like much of what I’ve done before is so much splish splash of color–searching for a visual idea and falling short. Maybe this time I’ll find my way

View more work at Saatchi Art, and on my web portfolio: ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll

Account of the Death of my Father

Journal entries. July, 1988

An Account of the Death of my Father
Max Bodenheim partied in London with T.S. Eliot and PoundWho remembers him now? Harry stands over the sink flash back to father

Strengthen the passage on seducer Death in hospital again and not doing well I’m on hold off the respirator

it’s overcast drove to Spring Lake Thursday arrived about 1:30 AM

Father moved to Ann Arbor Saturday back and forth–150 miles there 150 miles back heart mapping ventricular tachycardia slurring

of speech


a small stubborn man with small wants fiercely felt.

Spring Lake to Philadelphia 864 miles 18 hours

Raymond Carver died of lung cancer He just wanted it that’s all that damn wheel turning there above the field of goldenrod and Queen Ann’s Lace and going just nowhere at all George Washington Ferris built and designed wheel for 1993 exhibition–Columbia Early wheels:1892 Atlantic City Isaac Newton Forrest 1892 William Somers Eli Bridge Co.

10 seater, 35 ft Sandusky Park, Cedar Point, Ohio–148 feet. 216 passengers

This story needs work

* * *

no patience move on to another piece impossible to free myself from this job

Another hot summer another drought each change foreshadows disaster

this could go on indefinitely thin frail thread to hang by

The humidity broke a weak cold front the practical pressures–apart from writing.

still waiting to hear test results medication not working We may drive up there tonight try the defibrillator defibrillator defibrillator defibrillator

slept all afternoon


Invent it

prying open a rusty door


car won’t start rap music radios kids in playground behind me

Triple A jump start


long wait usually come sooner kids hanging out up and down the block in front of this row of little two story project apartments Leaning against a fence, sitting on the door step–five kids are waiting for someone to come home and let them in. A girl in pink slacks and red sneaks has brought home a half gallon of ice cream, which she’s set down on the walk while she waits. The ice cream is melting, soaking the bag it’s in, running out over the walk.

buses pass last night it was cool a chill a hint of autumn

traffic comes at me in the rear view mirror girls are talking about riding the bus (there goes another one). A trip. “The Greyhound–” says the biggest girl, the one in the red sneaks and pint slacks–is lots better than a school bus. They have racks up top the seats where we put all our bags, and they have bathrooms, and no school bus has that!


Phone call from Dad’s neighbors kids throwing party in the house police

there was a fight cloths in a grocery bag no diner on the road


sleep in the car cold in the mountains lights coming at you do strange things

$38 at a Great Western This morning across the road a motel for $21

40 miles into Ohio night crosses into day $14 cash

U.S. 80

Youngstown sky like a water color still wet farms and factories cranes jutting up through the mist a bank of cloud ahead the Meander river day lit landscape spill out before me a gift

tiles in the men’s rooms on the Ohio Turnpike like cross sections of some organ

micro-photos of blood cells red with a tint of iodine
apple turnover
a quart of oil

$6.00 left

sixteen miles to Toledo

No money to park at hospital lot 10 miles to Ann Arbor

Speedometer 103,822

released from the hospital today on my way to pick him up

103, 846 buy gas

misty and overcast after a night of rain.


weak didn’t eat well in the hospital head for home after breakfast

3:40 Fill it up (4394/230 miles 57.5 MPH avg

104708 Exit 23 from 80 to 144 544 miles

9:30 PM 544 miles in 10 hours 53.5 MPH avg

11:15 104805 PA Turnpike 641 miles

1:00 104907 743 miles, 13 hrs/40 min/ 54 MPH

Harrisburg to 80 via 433 & 144

* * *


On the road again. Almost to Harrisburg

Exactly 100 miles. 2:40

* * *

house appraised by Rich Jones

Home Trip drive alone with trailer behind my father’s Buick.

The funeral was Tuesday.

Meditation, Dissociation, Trauma

Meditation and dissociation… A couple of years ago I attended a sonic meditation exercise.
In a partially darkened room, we were invited to find a comfortable position on the floor, while sounds–bells, soft cymbals, tapping on wooden blocks, were alternated, as the guides circulated around the room. At the time, I choose to sit, rather than lie on the floor, because it was easier to breath (allergies), but now I believe there was more to this.

I first practiced meditation when I was 18–motivated by reading about Zen, and have, off and on over the years– since… but never sustained it for long. I was thinking about this at the end of the sonic meditation exercise. I had found it, unsatisfying… more than that. Disturbing. What was it that I was feeling?

In looking back at times when I meditated in the past, I recalled, that when I had finished…( I started to write, ‘recovered’) — I would at first feel transported, removed, elevated–but should I be disturbed in that state, interrupted–I would often explode in anger. The meditation, which at first made me feel at peace, left me more vulnerable, less able to deal with normal irritations. Something connected in this sonic exercise. I even wrote about it to the leaders of that evening, and not long after, to Timmy Dunn, on why I didn’t think I could join in the meditations he was hosting at the time at A-Space… that it felt — or seemed as though — meditation, rather than integrating my mind-body in the present, was wakening latent trauma–and the feeling I’d come to identify with mediation, was more like… no–was, in fact, a state of dissociation–very like what happens in situations of crisis, where one’s full attention is demanded. Emotional response will be, for the time, repressed. Then, when the crisis is over, and it’s safe to let out feelings that had to be withheld while dealing with it.

What then, was the connection, between meditation–the emotional reactions that would often follow–reactions all out of proportion to their provocation, and the healthy flight-fight suspension of emotions in a crisis… followed, by normal, healthy release? Could it be, that the mental state that had become familiar to me in meditation–was dissociation from trauma or crisis, remembered, and unresolved, and the post-meditation vulnerability, was emotional release–misdirected? I’ve wondered since if this is something that’s been studied?

Today, I found the article in this link.


What’s in a name?

Little by little, I’m reclaiming my given name.

‘Jacob Russell’ is retired.

My earliest memory of name switching–3 years old. Lived in a little, two story, two bedroom house with my maternal grandmother, Lorain (Gramma Rein… who I watched die of a stroke, age 12, alone in our family cottage at Bass Lake) with my aunt, Carolyn–not yet 16. Murdered by her husband, in 1965… I washed the blood from the basement floor at the bottom of the stairs where she fell after he stabbed her 23 times… and my uncle Will–who was only 16. I did not like being called “Little Will.”

My middle name, Russell, was my father’s first name. I guess they figured I wouldn’t like being “Little Russell” and better, so they called me ‘Rusty.’ That was my name through childhood, and in my family–and to my summer friends. At school, (which was my prison…I lived only for the summer with my real friends) I tried Willard, briefly. By Jr. High, I accepted Russell. I took on “Jacob Russell” when I began submitting poetry and stories–in my early 40’s. That stuck for another 30 years, until I went to SMS for the first time… I needed a Faerie name.

The last time I saw my childhood friend, we were watching a kid catch strange little fish off the quay in Ludington… gobys. That name is forever linked to his memory, who died shortly before I went to SMS. My friend from age 3… inseparable friend, 6 months younger, and fearless protector while I was still in Chicago. I didn’t know it then… but I was in love him. He comes to me in dreams. That name is forever.

When I began to make art again, and thought how I would sign it–I had gotten news that my uncle Will had Altzheimers. He had been the big brother I never had, an artist and mentor. Introduced me to Kafka and Whitman and Alan Watts. Willard was also the name of my grandfather, who died 2 weeks before I was born. I will sign my art, “Willard.”

Have signed almost 1200 pieces of Art, since… Willard

“Willard” … so, 6 months short of 80… it’s all right to be, Willard now…

but you can call me Goby. 🙂

Thanksgiving, 2020

Thanksgiving…So much of my life has been spent trying to live … or escape from… or into the images, ideas, I had in childhood. Like the right way to peel a banana… or to be an artist… and as meaningless.

Years, decades .. .spent discovering that there is no joy, no escape into that feeling I had when I first took on those things as real. Shedding skins. Not like a snake. But like a mink skinned for its coat.

Thanksgiving… any holiday is like that.

We knew as children–imagining… everything there was to know and every pleasure that was to be had in those seeds of future longing. Futile longings.Let them go.
There is nothing more.
But at peace.
………………………… there is no peace