Thursday, October 1, 2015

Columbus: Clown, Conqueror or Both?

                 The second entry in my art wars with Andy Warhol
                 My undated portrait of Christopher Columbus is crying out for interpretation.  Firstly, did I use the Latin root ‘ifer’ meaning “bearer” as testament to his claim to be spreading the word of Christ to the natives he came across?  I assume I misspelled it intentionally as I feel pretty sure this assignment was related to Columbus Day.  I have no recollection of any particular interest in the subject other than the proximity to my birthday.  As an adult I relish it as it is a federal holiday for my government employee self.

                As to the actual portrait there are several questions.  Was the peculiarly-drawn mouth intentional to show him as a clown?  Did I know the real history behind the story we were spoon-fed in public schools across this great nation?  Did I have insight into his ‘discovery’ of a land populated with indigenous people?   Was I aware of the reality he subjugated and enslaved these same people?  Did I know the only reason the slave trade stopped was through the intervention of Queen Isabella of Spain who threatened to withdraw financial support, not from Columbus’ change of heart?  Was I knowledgeable about those he enslaved were simply the ones who survived small pox, which he introduced to their country via his sketchy sailing companions?  Did I know he was a liar, a shameless self-promoter and a general buffoon who thought the world was shaped like a pear even though at the time most educated people were aware the earth was round?  Had someone told me he offered a prize of gold to his crew for the first person to sight land but when Rodrigo de Triana reported land, Columbus stated, “Oh, I saw it last night, I just didn’t tell anyone” and then kept the gold for himself?  Did this knowledge lead me to political commentary of a kind foreign to most elementary-aged Southerners?  Was this my first inkling of a rogue mindset or simply I wasn’t very good at drawing mouths?  I do like I gave him a rakish collar and very stylish bob (it was very now in the late 1490s).  As a benevolent fashionista, I have always felt everyone needs a cute outfit regardless of the condition of their soul or their proclivity to destroy entire cultures.


                 Columbus Day 1977, was celebrated on Oct. 10.  I feel certain my drawing was completed prior to the date, but was unveiled appropriately.  On this day, Mr. Warhol spent time at socialite and designer (Princess) Diane de Beauvau’s and they gossiped about Barry Landau who, like Columbus, was a society hanger-on and obsequious glory hound.   The only person of my acquaintance with possible ties to royalty, with whom I would have spent my day, was my mother.  Because of her regal bearing, I felt strongly she was of royal lineage.   

                As Mr. Warhol spent time with an actual princess talking about a fame-seeking lothario, much like Queen Isabella surely did with her courtiers, I will give this match-up to Mr. Warhol’s favor.   Snagging a Princess is no easy feat; trust me I’ve been unsuccessful for 45 years.

                The score now reads Dusty 1, Andy 1.  I would say the race is on, but it would mean quoting George Jones and I need to ensure I remain sufficiently pretentious as to not hinder my chance at victory so this is all I’m saying for now.

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