Friday, December 31, 2010

Rosie the Riveter, R.I.P.

As usual, it has been a year of many significant passings. No "year in review" is complete without noting the persons who have touched us in one way or another. A the beginning of this week, as if to round out the year, Geraldine Hoff Doyle passed away in Michigan. Doyle is not a household name, but her image as "Rosie the Riveter" may be as ubiquitous as a Coca-Cola logo.

Doyle was 17 when the famous UPI photo was taken. She had been working at a metal pressing plant near Ann Arbor at the time. The U.S. government liked the image so much they used it as a recruiting tool to encourage women to join the workforce and support the war effort. Later it became a popular poster and has been reproduced endlessly, here seen as a metal sign on one of our kitchen cabinets.

During World War II millions of women moved into jobs at factories to produce, among other things, the weapons and ammunition that kept our boys equipped for the fight. But in the aftermath of the war this image probably helped serve as a reminder that "sometimes a woman is the man for the job" serving now as an inspiration for more than half a century.

Other memorable personages who have departed in 2010 include Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, directors Blake Edwards and Irvin Kershner, actors Tony Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Fess Parker, Peter Graves and Leslie Nielson, Beaver's mom Barbara Billingsly, entertainers Lena Horne and Captain Beefheart, and novelist J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, whose Holden Caulfield proved to be an omen of sorts for the adolescent alienation that that would subsume the Sixties generation.

None of us is here on earth forever. Therefore, as you move into the new year, make the most of your days. May your 2011 be your best contribution yet.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Minutes with Artist Philosopher Margarida Sardinha

I recently met Portugese-born artist Margarida Sardinha via Twitter. From our first correspondence I recognized someone with great personal strength who was quite serious about her art. Like many great artists she synthesizes classic understanding with contemporary technologies to give shape and form to her own unique vision. She describes herself as a Geometric and Kinetic Artist.

In addition to a love of art, she is also an avid reader who, like myself, is fond of Umberto Eco and Argentine Jorge Luis Borges. The work represented on this page is all her own, some being studies for more complex animated works. It is my privilege to introduce her to you here.

Ennyman: When did you first become aware of your aptitude for art and how have you nurtured this gift?
XM: I can't remember the moment when I became interested in Art as I was far too young to remember... all I can remember is the fact that I always saw myself either drawing or involved in some plastic little project as a child. As my parents have a lot of books I started looking attentively at some of the world's greatest works and was absolutely fascinated by them and for as long as I can remember I always wanted to be an artist. As my parents became aware of this they introduce me to an art mentor at the age of eleven and he guided me for some eight years. He taught me Art History and Fine Art (mostly painting) in private lessons apart from my normal school studies where I also chose the art subject.

EN: How did you become interested in geometric and kinetic art?
XM: In the very same way as art history reflects the evolution of pictorial ideas I believe that every work of art is a process of many years of assimilation and maturation and it reflects that very same process. So, for me it was a process for one has to go through many stages till one finds what is it that is worth conveying in a contemporary work of art, and, after a lot of analysis I found myself constantly referring to geometry which is not new because most great works have a geometrical basis to them (even figurative ones) and what geometric abstract artists did was to lay bare what others concealed. I also combined this with movement therefore turning the work kinetic and using digital media to support it which enabled me to produce optical illusions that for me are the core of geometry, for geometry is exactly our attempt to dissipate the illusion of form and connect with archetypes (perfect forms) therefore my work is an allegory as it closes itself in a cycle.

EN: Fascinating. You were born in Lisbon. How did you come to live in London for ten years?
XM: It was decided by my parents and me when I was fifteen that I should go and study abroad once I finished High School at the age of eighteen. I applied to London and Edinburgh and I was accepted at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London to much of my surprise and happiness. After that I went on and did my BA at Chelsea College of Art and Design and as soon as I graduated I started exhibiting extensively. I was given a studio by Space Studios at a very reasonable price and that gave me the right space to work as I was getting important commissions to work on. The last show that I did in London was the "London Recycled" show where I curated with a group of friends a very ambitious exhibition where we showcased twenty new works by London-based artists from different artistic disciplines and from different nationalities' backgrounds.

EN: And how did London influence your work?
XM: London influenced my work enormously because I didn't have access to the latest contemporary shows in Portugal and even at school we only got as far as Abstractionism and Surrealism. I avidly went to see as many shows as possible in London and became aware of Art Theory of Conceptualism and Minimalism which truly defined my work direction at the time. Also new media was emergent at the time and I became very interested in these new forms of art especially video and installation. Besides all this there was of course the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and learn the history of different cultures which is a truly enriching experience for anyone interested in broadening his/hers horizons.

EN: Are you making a living on your creative endeavors or do you support your art passions by some other means?
XM: I have been commissioned for my work, so therefore received monetary support through that but it is difficult for those opportunities to arise. I made a conscious decision (because I can afford it) to make work which I find relevant and not necessarily to sell for I like to work in a site-specific manner and/or also produce work that I feel that is genuine and not very commercial. It was a conscious decision and I don't regret it.

EN: Some of your art has been described as being based on "philosophical ideas related with the eternal evolution of thought, creativity, knowledge and culture." Can you explain the philosophical ideas that underpin your work?
XM: The main philosophical ideas behind my work - I would like to stress Philosophical because I usually use those to make parallels with religious and scientific ones - are Platonic ideas and the ability that every human being has to go through the stages of the Allegory of the Cave. I think it provides the best metaphor for the quoted "eternal evolution of thought, creativity, knowledge and culture." for those four stages of evolution are the progression of human mind and spirit in every given human life going from Empirical Knowledge, Belief Knowledge, Abstract/Scientific Knowledge and finally Intuitive Knowledge. There's also another Platonic concept that I agree with and that is the fact that we have innate forms within us - in fact the purpose of the Allegory of the Cave is that we discover those archetypal forms and dismiss the shadows that are being projected and alluded upon us. These became known as the geometrical platonic solids that I use time and time again in my work for I believe that Sacred Geometry is, as stated above, innate in us and its resultant Divine Progressions are at the very foundation of our souls. As I said I create concept parallels based on these ideas and one example is the fact Hindu religion also gives a lot of emphasis in dispersing illusion - Maya - being the source of all ignorance and therefore very similar in some aspects to Plato's views. This is a small account of the ideas that surround my work because I fear my description might become too dense but I would like to say that I like to find affinities in Religion - Kabbalah, Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism - based on symbolism and respective beliefs.

EN: Where is the best place to find you online besides
XM: I prefer to be contacted via e-mail either on or
EN: Thank you again for sharing yourself here.

EdNote: In one of her emails she described reading Borges to looking deeply into an M. C. Escher work. The XM designation for Ms. Sardinha comes from her correspondence in which she signs her name XMargarida.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Readings 2010

From time to time I comment here on the various audio books I am reading while commuting to work. I've had more than one person dispute with me that listening to a book is not the same as reading it, but I would suggest that it has at least some similarity to reading in that your mind is engaging the ideas of a writer who has worked very hard to produce words to convey a story or ideas or whatever.

What follows here is an incomplete list of books I have listened to. I say imcomplete because it is a record of the audio books I checked out of the Duluth Public Library, but does not include the audio books I listened to from the Superior Public Library. That library erases your record after your return items, Duluth does not so that I can go back in time and review everything I have ever checked out.

The Duluth list did include many more audio books than this, but some I only listened to half or a third and some even less. Occasionally it might be a frame of mind that kept me from getting into a good book, occassionally the writing itself may have been uninteresting and on a few occasions the reader was simply annoying and I did not want to be in that person's company for the duration.

Anyways, here's my 2010 list, including remarks on a few of the items.

1. Billy Collins Live: A performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space, April 20, 2005
Nation's Poet Laurate is superb, as always.
2. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory by George Musser
3. Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan
This was my second reading of Dylan's autobiography. The first was when the book itself came out.
4. An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina
The Rwanda story that became the film Hotel Rwanda. Powerfully engaging.
5. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Probably third or fourth reading.
6. On Call In Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story by Richard Jadick
7. The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
The library has more Leonard audio books on tape than CD, and not enough to satisfy me.
8. James Madison, the Fourth President by Garry Willis
9. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
With its final chapter included, the chapter not included in Kubrick's version.
10. The Accidental Billiionaires: Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Now a film, the story of Facebook's origins.
11. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie
12. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
13. Appointment with Death: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie
14. A Pocketful of Rye by Agatha Christie
15. The Labours of Hercules: 12 Hercule Poirot Mysteries by Agatha Christie
16. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
17. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Interesting novel about India today.
18. Three Act Tragedy, A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie
19. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Author of Remains of the Day.
20. Fierce Pajamas: Selections from an Anthology of Humor Writing from the New Yorker
21. Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer
22. My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru
Intriguing story of a Sixties radical whose past comes back to haunt him.
23. Sideways by Rex Pickett
Became the film... and very well written.
24. Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
Hilarious novel about politics and more.
25. Conquistador Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma and the Last Stand of the Aztecs by Buddy Levy
26. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
27. Fidel Castro, My Life: An Autobiography by Fidel Castro
Lengthy, detailed account with many interesting details about "the Revolution" and Cuba's recent history.
28. Spy Killer by L. Ron Hubbard
Mediocre, but I stuck with it just because.
29. Plato & a Platypus Walk Into a Bar--: Understanding Philosphy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart
Some interesting things but not for everyone.
30. Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President by Robert Dallek
Good portrait of a president not high on everyone's list, but who made the tough decisions required at a tough time in history.
31. Superfreakanomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
32. On The Wealth of Nations by P.J. O’Rourke
Playful review of a significant book.
33. Call Me Ted by Ted Turner
34. Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy
Highly recommended, especially for young men.
35. Taking Woodstock: A True Story of Riot, a Concert and a Life by Elliot Tiber
36. The Man Who Loved China: Joseph Needham and the Making of a Masterpiece by Simon Winchester
37. Eyewitness: 1910-1919 by Joanna Burke
BBC production that made the decade come alive.
38. Limitations by Scott Turow
39. Yogi Berra by Allen Barra
Detailed biography of a great ballplayer, rich with anecdotes and baseball lore.
Cut paper picture of the Buddha by author/artist Ellen Sandbeck.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Irving Wallace's The Man

One of the most powerful and compelling books that I remember having to read in high school was The Man by Irving Wallace. The dramatic novel gives an inside look at the high stakes political action inside the Beltway. It is the story of Douglas Dilman, the first black man to become president, in this case through fluke in that the president is killed in a freak accident overseas while the vice presidency is vacant. Through the laws of succession Senator Dilman rises to the Oval Office.

Being president is challenge enough, but being a black president in a highly bigoted culture is an even greater burden. And it isn't long before those who are out to get him set him up.


Much of the tension revolves around an incident in which Dilman is accused of assaulting a white woman. It's a setup job, but it shows the extremes to which the bad guys will go to get him out of office, to muffle his voice, to trash his character.

The media, too, get on board, relishing the opportunity to have a story. There are smears and sneers and jeers, and (I don't remember them but undoubtedly) a few tears.

Fast forward, 2010.

If WikiLeaks is not the biggest story of 2010, it certainly has to rank high on the list of big stories. I do not know enough about Julian Assange to call him good or evil and have not done my due diligence in dissecting the ethics of what he's been doing. I only know that when the latest charges were brought up, the allegations of rape, Irving Wallace's novel came to mind.

The irony is that as Assange brings to light documents that put our government officials in a bad light, journalists are shining a light on Assange that puts his own character in a bad light. At the end of the day one wonders, where are the heroes here? But then, as with President Dilman, what if there were no sex crimes committed at all?

These are high stakes games being played and who among us even knows what the truth is. Except that we know there's a lot of fog and obfuscation out there right now. White noise and a ball of confusion.

Just thinking out loud. What a long strange trip it's been.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cartoon of the Day

Among other things, Santa's visit this weekend brought us a number of magazines. In addition to most of the small items I had on my meager Christmas list I received Steve Martin's An Object of Beauty, which is a real treat. It's an insider look at today's art scene, written with perceptive and incisive clarity. I'll give my review later when I finish devouring it.

One of the magazines we received was The New Yorker Cartoons of the Year. The New Yorker cartoons are always fun, and to have them assembled like this is even better than the Sunday comics.

Cartoons often require the visual aspect to really bring the full effect, so I will try to describe this one that especially cracked us up. The drawing is an old man in a white beard sitting on a throne upon a cloud, clearly intended to represent God. God is reading the Bible with an expression on his face that corresponds to the caption which read, "Oh shoot... How could I have forgotten to tell them about the dinosaurs?"

Tonight we have company, so I have neither the time or inclination to take this much further, though I wouldn't mind weighing in on a few recent films I have watched or the books I am reading. For the moment, I will save all that for another day... or maybe even next year, since 2011 is just around the corner.

Have a great one!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The End Does Not Justify the Means

As we celebrated Christmas yesterday, opening presents, listening to Christmas music, preparing and sharing a special Christmas meal together, I could not help but think again of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two young Americans imprisoned in Iran with no certain end in sight. Shane and Josh were arrested along with Sarah Shourd (Shane's fiance) on the purported charge of trespassing. When Sarah was released in September, after 410 days in solitary confinement, it was the first time the captured hikers were permitted to meet their lawyer to learn what they had been arrested for. The families of Shane and Josh have now missed two Christmases without their sons.

The situation is made more complicated because apparently the U.S. is detaining a number of Iranians. It is a fact that doesn't get much coverage in the news. And then the mind begins to drift again to Guantanamo where the U.S. harbors prisoners without due process.

The Guantanamo situation shows straight up that the Iranians aren't the only "bad guys" who do this kind of thing. This excerpt from an Andy Worthington article in The Public Record seems to reveal frightening parallels.

To be fair, some sort of review process, involving lawyers, is better than a process in which prisoners designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial are given no opportunity to contest the Task Force’s decision, but as Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, told the Post, “Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president’s pen. Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law. That is bad for America and is not the form of justice we want other nations to emulate.” **

The article this passage was extracted from deals with the complications of closing Guantanamo. President Obama seemed to make this a major objective when he was elected two years ago. Some said it couldn't be done, or wouldn't. But why? Is it because the things our government has been doing there might not be humane and had best not be revealed?

We've been told that these are terrorists who will go back to threatening our freedom and causing havoc for us. But as time unfolds we have learned that many of the detained have had hearings in which U.S. court judges declared they should be released, yet they remain detained. Why? Does our government have something to hide?

As is so often the case throughout human history, when the ruling powers flex their muscles innocent people are hurt. What will it take to end injustice in this world?

Our Founding Fathers fully understood that the path to end injustice was to support a free press that could bring light to the dark places where secret things slither and crawl. They also reinforced the notion that those who govern are themselves to be held accountable for their actions. Civilized nations are nations under law, and justice is blind, meaning the priviliged are as accountable as the common.

All this to say my heart goes out to Josh and Shane, and their families... and to all who are unjustly imprisoned by institutions that separate them from their families and loved ones.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Heard the Bells

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1867

Merry Christmas and the very best to you in 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Most Beautiful Park in Italy

We already know Italy is a beautiful country, rich in art, culture and history, not to mention the wonderful food. This week, I received notification Racconigi Castle and its park had been voted the 2010 most beautiful park in all Italy. High honors when you consider all the other places that could have easily been so designated.

Racconigi is a town and community in Northern Italy's Piemonte (Piedmont) region, located in the province of Cuneo 25 miles south of Turin, and 3o miles or so north of Cuneo. Historically its economy has been mostly based on agriculture, production of milk and meat, along with some sheet metal industry.

But its claim to fame must have always been its beauty, as kings set up their royal residences here. The park's centerpiece is the Castle of Racconigi, built in 1570 0n the site of an earlier castle that had been there from the beginning of second millennium. The park itself was laid out in 1755 by a French gardener named Molard, eventually enlarged in 1835. In between these dates the Piemonte region had been annexed to France during Napoleon's reign, a fragment of history known as "Racconigi Napoleonica."

According to historian Mario Monasterolo of Terre di Seta,"The annexation took place in three different periods. 1797, a first French invasion: Napoleon compelled Piemonte to surrender many fortresses and cities to France (but our king went on keeping his throne). 1798: a second invasion and the birth of the Republic. The king left Piemonte, but an Austrian - Russian army tried to conquer Piedmont again. 1799: the French army defeated the Austrian - Russian coalition and Piemonte was definitively annexed to France, till the end of Napoleon in 1814."

In 1901 the castle became the summer residence of the King of Italy and in 1997 was added to the World Heritage Site Residences of the Royal House of Savoy. Another highlight of the 20th century was the region's liberation from Nazi occupation at the end of World War Two, cited in Bud Wagner's And There Shall Be Wars. Wagner, who drove a jeep and kept a diary, noted that he never really got to see the castle as the officers had set themselves up there when the war ended.

As it is Christmas, and we are thinking of Italy this morning, it seems appropriate to share Italy's favorite Christmas song, as sung by the great tenor Pavarotti.

Buon Natale a voi dall'Italia.
Which, translated, means... Merry Christmas to you from Italy.
(EdNote: Lest there be any confusion, I am not there today except in spirit.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the Beginning

I began this blog on a Sunday afternoon, June 17, 2007. I'd been reading about blogging and had an inkling that the best way to learn about a thing is by doing it. I had no idea where it would go, but when your inside the maze you simply need to keep moving forward if you want to know where it goes.

My initial blog entries were text based, but eventually I began to illustrate them with photos and art. Little did I know how many pictures I would be making. It felt good to see the ramped up output as I strove to meet daily deadlines. I began to understand how Gary Larson (Far Side) or Charles Schulz (Peanuts) might feel, trying to come up with something interesting or meaningful on a daily basis. For those guys, though, it was a full time job. I was trying to squeeze the creative juices out of me each morning before heading to the office.

Eventually I'd produced enough work to have last year's show at the Venue. (The photos here are from that event.) I'd also began to learn how the other social media can work together... and how international it is! Friends have emerged in Italy, Germany, Australia and other points Stateside that I'd have never encountered ever in a traditional manner.

One of my current dreams is putting together an art show in Europe, an idea that would have never entered my mind two years ago. I am thinking Torino or Marseilles. Or both. It's on my bucket list anyways.

Here's that first blog entry, a happening you most likely missed.

One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap...

The purpose of this blog is as yet undefined. Perhaps to share art, to share philosophy, or most likely to share insights from 30 years of journal writing. The hardest part is to begin. This little paragraph seems so small, yet it serves to set a tone. We're creating a first impression. And what, pray tell, will it be?

On my wall is a quote from Bruce Barton. "Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things... I am tempted to think there are no little things."

It is my hope that this blog site -- though at first a "little thing" -- will grow to have tremendous consequences. I will sow my seeds and hopefully someone will read them in a manner that somehow, in some way deepens their life understanding. And in that manner they shall make a difference in another's life.

Onward, then, fellow travellers, pioneers in life's great adventure. Discover yourselves and change the world.

Round and round and round it goes.... where it stops, nobody knows. Thank you to all who have been travelling along with me here. May 2011 be your best year yet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010: Year in Review

While summing up the year in our annual Christmas letter it took me by surprise how much new work I'd done this in 2010 and how many shows I'd participated in. In addition to the live painting at Norm's at Halloween, and getting my art displayed at Lizzard's Gallery, Duluth, and Art Dimensions in Carlton, I had a very satisfying five shows in 2010.

On January 1 I set up my Dylan show at the Superior Library. The library has a small showcase which head librarian Nora Fie has devoted to showcasing the works of local artists. I "wallpapered" the space with pages from a 1938 London Times and displayed fifteen of my favorite Dylan paintings and drawings including the large acrylic based on the album cover The Times They Are A-Changing. Included in the display was my collection of Dylan clippings and other memorabilia.

Simultaneous, I also had my work on display at the Starbucks in Duluth, which is also devoted to providing visibility to artists. It was fun seeing and hearing all the positive reactions to the pieces as I hung them that weekend. Both of the these shows remained throughout the month of January.

Two weeks into the year I hung more of my work at the Thirsty Pagan, a brewery in Superior one block from where I work. Steve, the proprietor, graciously welcomed by filling many of his walls with paintings. My Sitting Bull received many comments and I sold two giclee reproductions of the piece. In some ways this Sitting Bull painting, which I produced around June 2009, was the beginning of what has been an exceedingly fruitful eighteen months of painting faces in a deliberate and new way.

While these three shows ran simultaneously I had also placed my painting A Postmodern Man in the members show for the Duluth Art Institute, a high profile event at the Depot.

There were no shows through mid-summer till the July show at Beaners Central. It was a wonderful event, as Jason Wussow has created a museum quality space for local artists. Though I sold no paintings at the show, I did sell quite a few art cards (ACEOs) for charity. Many people helped make the opening a success, especially friends from our philosophy club and the Prins who drove up from Minneapolis to be there.

The response to those art cards led me create three printed sets of Art Cards which I made available for sale at the December show at Goin' Postal. Encouraged to do the show by Andy Perfetti, owner of the local packaging and shipping franchise, it proved especially delightful despite adverse weather. The Art Cards are essentially the same size as baseball cards, reproduced and they make great stocking stuffers. Prices for ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions and Originals) vary widely on the Internet, but I have been selling my current ones for $5 each. (Right: With guest at my opening December 9.)

In addition to these I have been creating work for my art blog, The Many Faces of Ennyman which I started near the beginning of 2010. I've uploaded nearly 350 images this year, naming and uploading a new painting every day, mostly faces until I tire of this theme.

Hope your year has been a fruitful one. And that your holidays will be very special. It's probably too late for you to purchase my art cards for stocking stuffers, but keep it in mind for next year. This is probably not our last Christmas.

Photos courtesy Andrew Perfetti: Top center, Mark Anderson entertains guests at Goin' Postal in Superior at December opening. Left middle: Dogs of War, two Lincolns and The Worker at Beaner's show.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ten Minutes with Sculptor James Day

I discovered the Art of Day website by means of a Follow Friday recommendation from another artist on Twitter. Always interested in seeing what others are doing, I checked his profile and found a link to the Art of Day blog, Day's online creation, a site that helps increase awareness and appreciation for other artists and their work.

James Day is himself a sculptor and the works I saw impressed me to such an extent that I wished to share him here. I strongly recommend you check out the links at the end.

Ennyman: When did you first realize you were more creative than some people and decide to pursue art?
James Day: My ambitions in art started very early since I was the son of a sculptor. So it was inevitable that I would be an artist in some capacity.

EN: What was it that influenced you in the direction of sculpture?
JD: Of course being the son of a sculptor would have a large impact on the medium I would focus on growing up and in the future. I enjoy drawing and painting quite a bit, too, even web design, but definitely feel a higher connection and ability in sculpture.

EN: Who were your early inspirations?
JD: Early on I was inspired to be a special FX artist in part from watching the making of Star Wars and the alien bar scene back in the 1970's. I loved creating miniature and life size monster busts and fantasy characters. That lasted through high school and half way into college. The majority of high school I attended in Holland, and like most American families over there we visited countless museums. That's where some of the more traditional inspirations for me came from. My favorite artists were Michelangelo, Bernini, and Picasso. The first two artists were epic sculptors of course and amazed me with how intricate they could carve detail, form, and movement, especially Bernini. But Picasso inspired me to do whatever I wanted, leaving no boundaries to what I could imagine and create. His art taught me to push what were perceived to be acceptable limits and not worry about traditional approaches to presentation and subject matter in art.

EN: Please explain the bas relief process that you use to create these fascinating pieces?
JD: I use all types of clay, from traditional firing clays to plasticines or even polymer clays. I usually start by forming just a rudimentary shape roughly the size and shape of the work I want to make but slightly larger so that the detail can be carved into it. I used to build up clay and add details, but over the years prefer to start with larger solid blocks of clay carving out the detail and removing what's not needed.

EN: What are you currently working on that excites you and why?
JD: I have several relief sculptures and a few paintings that aren't finished yet. When I have the time I plan on finishing them. At the rate I find spare time now days, it will probably be months before I get them finished and ready to show

EN: Any advice for people trying to balance art and career?
JD: Since it's such a monumental task, it's hard to give advice in this department. I guess I can give a little insight into how I've managed though. I have no social life what so ever, find very little time for myself to even watch a movie, and never go out in the evenings or on weekends. The only way I've been able to balance it all out is by giving up a normal existence, and working around the clock in an attempt to keep up with the workload, contacts, and networking. It's really difficult and launching the Art of Day site as you can imagine has only compounded it.

EN: I'm also interested in your relationship to the featured artists at your blog? How long have been hosting/managing/curating the Art of Day Blog?
JD: Each of the artists featured on Art of Day are selected from those who post their art on the ArtofDay Facebook fan page, entries submitted through the Art of Day website, or by direct invitation. (fan page) (website)

I joined Facebook back in 2008, got in touch with old friends, and started networking with as many artists, curators, and galleries as I could. After more than a year of networking I saw a huge need for something like the Art of Day website where artists could receive a sizable amount of exposure for simply taking part in such a site. It took another 6-9 months working the idea around before I actually committed to the project. Art of Day launched on July 12th 2010.

WEBSITE (Portfolio)
Sculptor & Artist James Day

BLOG (Artist Features)
Artist Features, Gallery Networking, & Art Event Promotions


FAN PAGE (Facebook)

TWITTER (Art of Day)

Premiers all featured Art of Day artists to the twitterverse!

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Bobby Avila: Star of the Indians

This weekend I spoke with my mom about the passing of Bob Feller, which I wrote about Friday. In our discussion I mentioned my teddy bears which had been named after the Cleveland Indians starting rotation, a fact of my personal history which I have repeated for many decades. She wasn't so sure. She remembered Feller, Lemon and Garcia, the three bears named after Indian pitchers. But she believed the fourth, a reddish teddy bear, was called Avila, named after her favorite player, the star infielder from Mexico.

Garcia, by the way, was a huge teddy bear. I remember one time years later finding that my parents had him stored in the attic still, leaning against the chimney under the eaves. Because Lemon and Feller were my favorites, they got pretty much "used up" and worn out. But Avila I had forgotten about.

I never forgot the ballplayer, though. He was my Mom's favorite player hands down. And pretty much forgotten today, even though in 1954 he was the American League's leading hitter. Indians manager Hank Greenberg, himself no slouch with a bat, said of Avila, "He has that extra something that makes a great hitter. Call it the competitive instinct.... He's always fighting the pitcher, never choking up, and never giving an inch.... In a tough spot, I'm always glad to see Bobby coming to the plate."

Avila was the first Major League ballplayer to come straight out of Mexico into the Majors. But baseball was not Avila's first professional sport. Like most boys in Mexico he was a skilled soccer player, and unlike most he signed his first professional soccer contract at age 14. The deft footwork of his soccer experience was demonstrated in the way in which he moved as a second baseman.

It was both his glove and his bat that got him elected to the All-Star team in 1952, '54 and '55. In 1954 he took the American League batting title with a .341 average. For a second baseman, that's a pretty good stick.

Avila was not greatly feared as a home run slugger. (He hit a respectable 80.) Yet of his 15 homers in 1954, 13 came in clutch situations that either won or tied important games, and a grand slam against the Tiger during the stretch was instrumental in helping the Indians win the pennant that year.

Having lived in Mexico for a year, I was familiar with Avila's hometown of Vera Cruz, and the passion for soccer that begins shortly after kids learn to walk. We ourselves lived outside Monterrey, which is home to many museums and parks. One museum of which I was not aware, was the Baseball Hall of Fame (Solon de la Fama). Susie and I were strolling in a picturesque part of town when the building caught my eye. Inside many memories were stirred, as baseball had once been my first love.

Here I discovered Mexico's contribution to Major League Baseball, and the pride they experienced by this association, enshrining their many stars, the first of these being my mother's hero as well. The two photos on this page were taken that afternoon.

Bobby Avila passed away in 2004, in Vera Cruz, the town where he was born and to which he returned. Viva Avila.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

John Steinbeck On the Art of Fiction

"Although sometimes I have felt that I held fire in my hands and spread a page with shining—I have never lost the weight of clumsiness, of ignorance, of aching inability." ~John Steinbeck

Writers are a different kind of animal. No one completely understands their struggles. This is probably why writers enjoy reading about other writers, so as to be affirmed that we are not alone, even though the arenas we battle in are solitary.

John Steinbeck, one of the great writers of the last century, once indicated to The Paris Review a willingness to be interviewed before he died. The interview never took place as Steinbeck crossed the river in 1968, becoming inaccessible. Nevertheless, by means of his diaries and letters, the great writer's thoughts and insights about writing were scattered all over. As a courtesy to the rest of us who care about these things, The Paris Review assembled these scattered notes and observations in a 21 page article rich with insight.

Here is one passage, with a link to the entire piece further on.

A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long—not for long.

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—
“Yes, that's the way it is, or at least that's the way I feel it. You're not as alone as you thought.”

Of course a writer rearranges life, shortens time intervals, sharpens events, and devises beginnings, middles and ends. We do have curtains—in a day, morning, noon and night, in a man, birth, growth and death. These are curtain rise and curtain fall, but the story goes on and nothing finishes.

To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.

The excerpts and snippets assembled in this article cover a wide range of topics related to writing including getting started, luck, work habits, inspiration, writing verse, the short story, hack writing, size, character, intent, the craft of writing, competition, titles, critics, relaxation, having a writer in the family, honors, Hemingway and fame.

If you are a writer, and especially if you are a Steinbeck fan, here's a link to a very good read. Savor it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Interview with a Woman Who Kissed Elvis

Sometime earlier this fall I was having lunch with the late Jack Tylia, a Duluth author of countless books on fishing and former journalist for the Tribune, when a woman at the next table interrupted us. "I couldn't help but hear you were writers. All my life people have told me my story should be turned into a book." This wasn't the first person to tell me this, and the last one had a story that I transformed into a Hollywood screenplay. It was a remarkable story by someone who lived through a horrific period of history in Estonia during World War II, Ralph Kand. Someday I will see if I can finish the book that was commenced as a follow up.

The woman gave us her phone number and this past month I decided to give her a call. Her name was Gloria. We went to lunch at the Androy Hotel in Superior, and for what it's worth, I enjoyed hearing her stories. In her youth she had evidently been attractive enough to catch the eye of some rather interesting men, including Clint Eastwood whom she purportedly dated and Elvis Presley. Here is the beginning portion of our conversation at the Androy.

Ennyman: You were at the Beverly Willshire.

Gloria: Yeah, at Beverly Hills, that's where we met, that's where I met Elvis. I was an elevator operator and we'd kiss between floors. He invited me to his room because I had a 22 waist, 110 pounds. At that time I looked like Liz Taylor, people say. My hair was past my waist. He used to come in with all his Memphis Mafia, and one time Charlie Hodge, he grabbed my hand, this is some time into it, he grabbed my hand and he's holding my hand looking at me. Elvis had these long cigars and he blew the smoke right straight through between us to break it up. And Charlie looked back and dropped my hand like that. So he asked me to his room, and I said, "I can't come 'cause I'm employed. You know if I go to your room I might get fired, and its not worth it." So anyway, he moved out and then the fun started.

One night I had my hair in curlers, and I got a telephone call from Joe Esposito. In fact, recently Joe Esposito called me from Vegas. Steve Wynn asked him to work for him at the Wynn Hotel and Casinos. And he's part of the Memphis Mafia. He did a lot of work for Elvis.

Enny: Esposito is part of the Memphis Mafia?

Gloria: They call those guys the Memphis Mafia. They were like Elvis' body guards and business people. So he called me up and he goes, “Can you be ready in a while?” and I said, “Where are you calling from?” And he said, “I'm calling from a limousine downstairs. Elvis wants to know now if you can come over.” But he hesitated. He said now can you come to his home and he hesitated and I said, “Yeah, sure.” So my parents ran to the window and looked out and looked down and said, “Oh, my, gosh.” You know how a limousine looks.

So anyhow, he said, “How soon can you be ready?” and I said pretty soon. I set my hair down, took my curlers off, fixed my hair and I'm like, “How did you know I was home? My address and phone number, that’s not hard to get. You can get it from my boss, but how did you know I was home?” So anyhow I went to Elvis' house, and all the fun started from that point on. You know, I believe to this very day that he was my soul mate. I had no doubt about it. I got to know the dad really well. I invited my brother a few times.

Enny: Roughly when was this?

Gloria: It was, I was 23 years old, so 1962, around that. And so then finally I brought my brother there, and he said to me he was jealous. And I said, "There's no reason to be jealous. He hasn't officially dated me."

Well, I was very shy back then because in the 50's and 60's you didn't do anything wrong. People were very uptight. Even on the Lucille Ball Show they had to have separate beds. They couldn't have man and wife in the same bed. That's how they were, so you're uptight. Actually I froze up around him. Not saying he was intimidating but I froze. Otherwise if I had to go out after him, when he proposed to me I would have been in Memphis. I wouldn't be here sitting with you. So long story short –

Enny: He proposed to you?

Gloria: Yeah, this is some time into it. We'll get to that. Anyway, we'll bypass everything else because it’s too long. He's interested, showing interest in me and I'm like, not showing anything. I'm like independent, you know. I'm not deliberately doing that, but I'm just acting like he's just another guy. I think he kind of liked that in a way. So anyway this was, I believe, in Bel Air, and I'm sitting in a convertible that my friend took me up there in.

Enny: Your friend was?

Gloria: I had a friend who drove me up there.

Ed: He or she?

Gloria: It was a he. And so finally he's in the house and then Elvis comes out and he's getting into his motor coach, one of those ones they drive and he pointed over at me and said, “I want to get married.” And I'm looking around, and he says, “I want to get married and I want to have a boy and I want to have a girl.” And then I looked around and he says, “I'm talking to you.” And I froze. I didn't know what to say. Finally, he repeated that two times and he said, “Oh, girls,” and I said what the heck just happened? Why didn't you answer him? Why didn't you say something? Even to this very day I'm like, “Why didn't you say something to that man?" You know? But that is considered a proposal when he pointed at me and said I want to get married and have a boy and a girl. Later on in the books in Barnes and Noble, it said that he wanted a boy and a girl, a boy first and a girl second. And there's so many coincidences that are happening still to this very day that are unexplainable.

There's plenty more to this story. If you know someone who wants to to go further with it, I can put you in touch. History is made by real people.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bob Feller's Passing Brings Back Memories

I was a first-born child, born in Cleveland, Ohio, but when I came home from the hospital I was not alone. There were four teddy bears in my crib, named after four great Cleveland Indians pitchers: Feller, Lemon, Garcia and Wynn. Feller, with his spindly black arms, stubby ears white tummy and button-eyed face, was my favorite. (It's funny how when I learned to talk, my stuffed animals learned to talk to each other as well.) This week, the real Bob Feller passed on to bigger and better things after a lifetime of inspiration due to his achievements as a pitcher in the middle of the last century. He led the American League in strikeouts seven times, pitched three no-hitters and a record number of twelve one-hitters. More records would have been added had he not spent the heart of his career in the service of his country, having enlisted in the navy at the outbreak of World War II.

I was born during the pennant race of 1952, a nail-biter of a season with the Indians coming up two games short against their arch-nemesis, the Yankees. The Indians, famous for their pitchers, would spend most of the 1950's falling short like this, though in 1954 they did punch through and captured the American League pennant, again behind a dominant starting rotation that heralded four 20-game winners, three of whom would become Hall of Famers.

I do not recall my first ballgame in Cleveland Stadium. I have a memory of box seats on the third base side on a sunny summer day when I was about four. I remember many games after that over the years including several games in the hopes of being present when Early Wynn reached his 300th lifetime career win. I remember learning how to keep the box score in the scorecard when I was barely old enough to write.

I like to tell people that we went to every Yankee-Indian double header back then, but I'm sure my memory is faulty and it only seemed that way. We did go to a lot of games and I do recall one double header when Yankee catcher Elston Howard slammed game-winning home runs over the center field fence in both games. Other household names in Cleveland in those days included Rocky Colavito, Herb Score, Woody Held, Vic Power and Tito Francona.

It wasn't until I was grown up that I learned from my dad that we went as often as we did because my grandfather, who was a supervisor at the Packard plant in Warren, routinely acquired free tickets. It's only natural to want to take your grandkids out to the ballgame. And who better to go see than the Yankees.

I remember one game in which the Indians were losing going into the ninth and my dad said it was time to leave so we could beat the traffic. We walked to the car hoping against hope for a comeback, and sure enough the Indians tied it up while we headed back to Maple Heights. When we got home the game was still going and I remember sitting in the back yard rooted to a lawn chair sipping kool-aid. We beat the traffic but missed a great comeback. No biggie.

Bob Feller's fame could be attributed to his fastball, a sizzler once purportedly clocked at 107 miles per hour. But now that I'm grown I think his fame lay in that wonderful blend of good-heartedness combined with talent. At seventeen years of age he was already pitching in the major leagues. In addition to being a great ballplayer he was an exemplary person.

I'm not the only writer with fond memories of Cleveland baseball. Indians fans owe a debt of gratitude to veteran sportswriter Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for his loving coverage of the team over the years. Strongly recommended reading for Indians fans: The Curse of Rocky Colavito, which details the story of heartbreak most Indians fans have experienced since those mid-century glory days.

In remembrance of Bob Feller, here's Pluto's account of a visit to the Feller family farm in Iowa. Bob "Rapid Robert" Fellow passed away on Wednesday, December 15, after a bout with leukemia. He was 92. The Indians have not won it all since he took them there in 1948.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Records Are Made To Be Broken

Anyone reading the ArtDaily Newsletter on a semi-regular basis can't help but notice one of the repeating themes of this year: record sales in the art market. Today's edition includes a story about the "new auction record for a work by Sir Stanley Spencer" which went for more than two million dollars when it was expected to bring about one-third of that. The works of other British artists also went at some hefty prices as well.

This follows on the heels of an Asian art sale that brought $390 million at a Sotheby's Hong Kong sale earlier this month. Earlier in 2010 an Alberto Giacometti sculpture brought in over $100 million, eclipsing the previous record high price paid for a piece of art, a painting by Picasso.

In November a Modigliani fetched a record price in the millions and in October a sale of art from the Islamic world broke records as well, ringing up $40 million in sales.

Christie's Auction House has likewise seen its share of record setting events as the wallets and bank accounts of contemporary collectors have begun opening up again. In June both Christie's and Sotheby's experienced record setting sales for sales of Impressionist and Modern art. A Manet self-portrait went for $22 million.

Even a rare book fetched its millions, Audubon's Birds of America.

It must be exhilarating, both for buyers and sellers. But what does it mean? Is this a harbinger that things are looking up for the economy? Are there any implications in all this art news for artists here in the Midwest? Does a rising tide lift all boats?

I am sure that these kinds of stories didn't do much to warm the hearts of the homeless in their icy camps around Duluth as temperatures sank to minus twenty here. You can't even take an eNewsletter and make a fire with it.

But it's interesting to see how the other half lives. Isn't that why people read the tabloids and watch shows like Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous?

There's got to be a practical part in all of this, beyond its entertainment value. Maybe there will be more jobs in the art restoration field in the next few years. Or maybe...

Blue Van Gogh, an original painting by Ed Newman. Limited edition giclee reproductions available for significantly less than a million dollars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Earlier this week I finished the Scott Turow novel Limitations. An author of legal thrillers, Turow probably first came onto our radar as a storyteller of significance by means of the Harrison Ford thriller, Presumed Innocent.

I wouldn't call it a great book, but the story does make an interesting read in that Turow explores some of the limitations and constraints of the law and shares why some of these things exist. Law is, after all, simply a network of limitations designed to help civilized communities in the administration of justice.

No one likes limits. That is why legislators have to spell them out because some people like to win at any cost. That is, there are police who would do anything to get a confession, so statutes are created to restrict them and protect the common person who may be getting railroaded. Hence, they are Miranda laws (a limitation) and laws regarding how long we can be held without a reason.

In the courtroom there are restrictions, too, one of them being the statute of limitations that is the centerpiece of Turow's story. George Mason is a judge on the Court of Appeals. The three-man tribunal must determine whether or not to overturn a lower court ruling involving heinous acts by four high school boys with an unconscious fifteen-year-old black girl. The issue gets complicated because one of the boys made a videotape of their actions and four years later was showing it at his frat house for entertainment. Someone turned him in, a trial ensued and the boys were given a six year sentence. They are currently free on bond while the higher court determines whether they got a fair trial since the frat house incident was more than three years after the crime, and the girl, Mindy DeBoyer, never spoke up about it at the time.

As it turns out Mason is the swing vote on the matter because one judge believes the defense has a case. Mason, a black judge who has done well for himself in life, is also aware of a dark incident from his own college days many decades ago, with unsettling parallels that make it difficult for him to be fully impartial. Finally, the screws are tightened when he starts getting warnings and even death threats via email.

The book is not so much of a thriller as much as an inside perspective on the way law works. Its novella length makes it a fast read so that it's not overly tedious. And it shows us why sometimes the bad guys go free... because lawyers and even judges have to operate within the limitations established by the law.

The Founding Fathers who wrote the Bill of Rights sought to spell out some of the limits of our government to restrict the abuse of power they experienced under the King of England. In short, limitations matter, for which reason the courts exist to interpret the meaning of the laws by which free peoples co-exist.

Food for thought. Till the morrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Will Robots Rule the World

The cover of this month's Popular Science features a deliberately evil-looking robotic mountain lion with the headline in bright yellow bold print, "Robots Bite Back." The intriguing sub-title follows, What Happens When Out Machines Start Making Their Own Decisions?

In other words, can Terminator really happen? Not the time travel art, but the premise that bots one day go on a rampage against their human parents. It's a strange twist on Freud, of sorts. Kill the father. The only difference... unlike Oedipus, these offspring of the human race will not experience remorse.

If you pick up the mag you'll find the cover feature on page 58, titled The Terminator Scenario. The author Ben Austen begins with a salient reminder that robots not only can go bad, they already have. I missed the story last summer, but Austen did not and used it as a springboard into his own explorations regarding how close real science is fulfilling the creative musings of science fiction writers. Here's the original account from last summer.

Renegade unmanned drone wandered skies near nation’s capital
By John Cook

The U.S. Navy has admitted that it lost control of a helicopter drone during a test flight in Maryland earlier this month, leaving it to fly unguided for more than 30 minutes and 23 miles and violating Washington's restricted airspace. The drone's operators eventually regained control and got the drone safely back to base. The Navy tells the New York Times that a "software issue" caused the snafu.

The drone, a Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Navy Fire Scout, is supposed to have a failsafe system that directs it to land safely if it loses its communication link with the controller on the ground. That obviously didn't happen on the drone's Aug. 2 flight, and it made a beeline from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland, where it was being tested, toward Washington. It was roughly 40 miles from the capital before the Navy regained control.

Evidently the Navy went so far as to prepare F-16s to shoot the thing down. They did not know what it was going to do.

Robots are already doing all kinds of things for humans, like repetitive assembly work that would bore people out of their gourds. And we've all heard reports of the use of unmanned drones which are terrorizing people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What if this war in remote corners of the globe turns out to be nothing more than a testing ground for the Pentagon's new toys?

According to Wikipedia, there have been over 200 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing an uncertain quantity of people, estimates ranging from 1200 to near 2000. Yes, they did get some of their target bad guys, but I'm not sure what the PR ramifications are for this kind of thing. My guess would be that unmanned drones hovering near my village home would be just a tad frightening.

While the new technologies truly are remarkable, it isn't surprising that they can also make us uncomfortable. What happens when the bi-products of science begin to resent our taking them for granted? What happens when they stop inspiring awe and begin to demand that we worship them?

Well, we could go further with that but I gotta start my day. My computer is telling me it's time to get ready for work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Aesthetic Movement

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy defines the Aesthetic Movement as a "doctrine associated with late 19th-century writers and artists, including Walter Pater, James McNeill Whistler, and especially Oscar Wilde. It holds that the appreciation of art and beauty is the highest aim of human life, and especially that the pursuit of such experience is not constrained by ordinary moral considerations. Art itself serves no ulterior moral or political purpose. The ‘Aesthetic Movement’ was a useful reaction against the didactic religious and moral art of the time and helped artists and critics to concentrate upon the formal and internal qualities of works of art."

The well-known maxim "Art for art's sake" was birthed during this period. The movement was, in part, a reaction against the de-humanizing influence of science and utilitarianism, which places value on things according to their usefulness.

Friday night at our philosophy club Professor Daniel Robertson (on a CD lecture we listened to) used the following example to illustrate the difference in perspectives between the aesthetics and the scientists. What is the best way to understand what a radio is? Scientists would break it open and study its components. The aesthetic philosophers would say that you will never understand a radio that way. The only way to really understand a radio is to turn it. Once you hear a Schubert symphony (choose your passion here) you will understand what a radio is.

So it is with the human spirit. A man or woman is not the sum of its component parts. We are more than muscle and bone and fluids and ectoplasm. By that measure how could you ever comprehend a Shakespeare? The Aesthetic movement was an attempt to counteract the ideological forces that were boxing people in, treating persons as if they were simply gears in a machine.

In the 1960's the same forces were at odds, striving to define us. The utilitarian view was that we have value only if we were producing something of value. The measure of value was in our wages. Materialism said that more goods would make us happier. But there was something within us that said life was more than that. Maybe the hippie ethos went too far in rejecting everything Western modernity had invented. But there was something to be said for this deeply human longing to aspire to something more, to dream impossible dreams.

Carpe diem. Reach for the stars.

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