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Monday, November 10, 2014

I See Dead Things

I mentioned that I was taking Helen and the wee ones to The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury. I'd made a big deal about going (GOT to — the girls will love it!) because I remember being simply wild about the joint when my pal Steve and I happened on it 20 or so years ago.

Here’s the thing — that first visit I made there? I was young. Maybe in my mid 30s max.  I was fascinated by all things odd and creepy with, perhaps, a soupçon of sinister. My paintings were all of individuals bound by ropes, heads aflame, laying out like waxy corpses. Yeah, I was doing the mega serious, heavy allegory dance.

I expect I wore a lot of black then too. A pre-goth Goth is what I was. And then, in my 40s, my perky, optimistic, Debbie Reynolds/Sandra Dee/Doris Day on ‘shrooms side emerged.

No, I didn’t start painting giddy kittens on satin pillows. I'm not making promises regarding future work though.

Back at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium though, I totes forgot that the joint’s jam-packed with taxidermied birds and animals. Dead things. Of course. It’s a natural history museum. How could I have forgotten?
Since I was there last, I’ve gone all vegetarian to near veganism.   Me in a museum of dead, cold, stiff, stuffed and dusty beasts who were offed so they could be mere trophies? Not good. What may have been cool and creepifying at 34 is a little horror show-ish and guilt inspiring (sharing the killer’s same species and all) at 56.

There were other displays — cool fossils and minerals, dollhouses from the 19th century and there’s a really neato-keen display of author/illustrator David Macaulay’s work in progress for the museum as well as original drawings from some of his books. Awesome! Seeing Macaulay’s drawings and just wandering around the faboliscious Romanesque architecture of the digs was worth the trip through I-See-Dead-Things-ville.

I bet the planetarium, sadly closed when we were there, is très marv.


  1. Hard to believe, I know, but it's not ALL about you. How did the kids react to the stuffed monstrosities? Did they get the frisson of safe fear that you experienced at the younger age? Where they enthralled by the beasties or bored by the low-techedness of it all? And BTW, the day you start painting kittens on satin is the day we check you into the have-some-pablum house.

    1. NOT all about me????? Huh, is this something new? :-)

      The girls seemed to enjoy it. Actually, I think they had a lot of fun. Six year old Julianna pointed out was good enough to point out the sex (male) of one of the bears. No giggling either — she was just letting us know that there was bear willies in the house.

      Pablum — can I get that with a shot of Jamison?