GREETINGS AND HAPPY 2018 from Galen Garwood
I do hope its a glorious one for all of us. There are some excellent changes in the wind. I feel it. I do. Hanuman has smiled, and when the monkey god smiles, he means business. I’m going to count on those changes coming soon.
Speaking of monkeys, in a few months I’ll be officially launching Sell the Monkey, a Memoir.
I won’t reveal the title’s meaning, but I will say it came from my Seattle friend, Wally Barclay, thirty-three years ago after I’d told him a story from my childhood and that one day, I’d write a book about it. He laughed and said, “You should title it Sell the Monkey.” And so I have.
I was only forty-one. Today I’m nearing seventy-four. Two and a half years ago I decided, if I’m going to do it, to write my story, I better start soon.
Since I was a boy, visual art has occupied the most significant part of my creative activity. I’ve now and again expressed myself through writing—the occasional essay, a few children’s stories, a poem now and again—but not all that much. In some ways, writing the memoir has been a challenge—what to put in, what to leave out, going back again and again, combing through and sifting out unnecessary adjectives, semi-colons, and ellipses; all of which, admittedly, I love…too gloriously much.
A memoir has its own particular set of parameters, some comfortable to wear, some not. For example, one doesn’t have to come up with a plot. It’s already there, scripted. Conversely, the script can be restricting. Or too revealing. One’s life is one’s life, and we’re pretty much stuck with it. Of course, the occasional memory lapse allows some degree of fudging.
Another challenge is the editing of events, weaving the most durable, brightest and accessible threads. These are never free-floating, usually attached to dimmer memories that get dredged up whether we want them to or not; some of them can be painful. Even so, it’s a cathartic adventure, a kind of introspective house-cleaning, one that can lead us to personal honesty. While such a place, or cause, or state might seem obscure, or ambiguous—even ephemeral—I believe embracing it becomes an essential filter—the first, last, and finest—for making art, and understanding why it matters.
Of course, one of the main characters in SELL THE MONKEY is my eccentric and beautiful mother, Ida Lane, who became the legendary ragtime piano player for Alaska’s Malamute Saloon. She died in 1989, but her music and her spirit live on.
Ida Lane on the right with her mother, Lucile, (MaUdi) ca. 1957
SELL THE MONKEY is expected to launch in the spring 0f 2018
Vermeer’s Landscape, photograph, 2017
And then there are the elephants…
As many of you know, I returned to Thailand in 1998—the first time was in 1968—to do a documentary on the plight of the Asian elephant. I learned a lot about elephants and their difficulty surviving in a sadly-diminishing habitat as a result of human greed and our lack of understanding of how important they are in the balance of nature. Has it gotten any better for threse remarkable animals? I don’t believe it has. So the work must go on. Fortunately, we see more and more positive effort from conservancy groups, and more innovative ways to educate people. But the wake-up drums must be loud and continuous. The work must go on.
The Good news, here in Thailand and elsewhere, the fight to help the elephants does go on. One such group is the NAKA Foundation. Another, Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation continues under the tireless effort of Soraida Salwala. We’re beginning to see more people more interested in visiting true elephant sanctuaries, such as BLES Elephant Sanctuary. My friend, musician and composer, Jami Sieber, whose music I used my elephant documentary, continues her annual tours to Thailand of small groups of people anxious to learn more about and experience the elephants up-close.
Three Bananas, drawing, 2001
IN THE NEXT ISSUE:
Poet and Translator
Heron’s Flight Galen Garwood, oil on panel 2002
To help launch the monkey into the world, THE NEXT JOURNAL ISSUE will feature an unbelievable art sale, works by my hand, and a few others, at such incredibly reduced prices, you’ll be absolutely gobsmacked. I promise. STAY TUNED….
Some exciting news coming from MARROWSTONE PRESS about their new subsidiary book service features….stay tuned.
Blessings from the river.
and the monkey