The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No, that's not a harmonica.

(click on the image above to enlarge it.)

Ok, Bob Newland can't talk about this, but I can, so let's do. I just made this digital painting to see if we can perhaps help Bob raise a little money.

About $5,000 actually.

As many of you know, Bob has recently been convicted for possession of marijuana. For years, Bob has been a fervent advocate for legalization of the herb, especially for people who need it for medical reasons — oftentimes to reduce profound physical suffering in terminally ill patients. But that's not what this post is really all about.

Part of Bob's sentence involves his agreement to stop speaking out on his issue for one year, the term of his sentence.

It was either that or serve 2 years in the State Penitentiary.

(As it is, he is sentenced to one year in the Pennington County Jail with all but 45 days of that time suspended PROVIDED he refrains from speaking out on his issue, and a few other usual conditions.)

Many people in the Media, and yes the New Media, think Bob's sentence goes too far, violating his 1st Amendment Rights.

Even some of Bob's harshest critics have expressed their concern about this.

(Kind of like when the ACLU stuck up for Rush Limbaugh, I suppose.)

Be that as it may, Bob's not talking about it.

He's sacrificed a lot for this cause, but 2 years away from home at his age just doesn't seem worth it.

Besides, Bob is not a criminal.

He doesn't belong in prison.

He belongs out here, with us, teaching us how to think straight, and showing us how to stand up for the things we believe in, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.

Hopefully, I've made the painting in such a way as to simply symbolize Bob's existential position and his current circumstance, leaving the final interpretation of the image up to the viewer.

I think art should be open like that.

If you think it's good Bob has to keep his yap shut, it's in there.

If you think those are Bob's hands bound and praying. Fine. If you think they are the hands of people suffering from pain, also fine.

If you think the sun rays are the Lord on High, dandy. Also dandy if you think they are an especially nice image of the Kepler Effect.

And, if you think that's a marijuana plant growing in the middle of the picture... well, umm... you'd be right. Then again, if you, like Magritte, prefer to insist that it's just a picture of a marijuana plant, you would be right too.

(Art is pretty liberating, huh? )

The upshot is, Bob has some pretty big legal bills, and not a lot of money. So if you believe in Bob's right to speak out, even if you don't agree with him, then please consider buying a print of the image above. I'll take your pledges at my office email address:

Now, I want this to be affordable, so as many as possible can give what you can, so let's do it this way.

The more you pledge, the larger print you'll receive. All prints will be gallery quality, hand signed and dated, suitable for framing. I'll make 3 sizes. 3" x 5" card size for pledges of $10-100; 8.5" x 5.5" for pledges of $100-300 and 12" x 18" for pledges over $300.

Ok now for the fun part, and this is free. What should I name this painting? Here are my ideas so far: "Painted into a Corner,"A Stroke of Bad Luck," "No, That's Not a Harmonica," "Silence is (Acapulco) Golden." "Not So Kind Bud..." Got more, folks? Just drop 'em in the comments box.

And thanks in advance. I'll have our office manager send the pledge money directly to Bob's attorney.

Otherwise, who knows what he and I might do with it?

Maybe buy art or something.

p.s. I am going to invite some other friends to participate in this little celebration to see if we can expand upon your inventory of art choices. I suppose its remotely possible that not everybody is going to think my painting here is the best thing they've seen since Monet's Water Lillies, so I'm going to give everybody a shot at it. If you have an image of your own creation you would like to have considered, please send me a low rez copy of it at the email address above. I'll put it up for "judging" by the distinguished Decorum Forum People's Court, and if you pass the test, you're in. (Don't worry, we'll be gentle.)

So come on, all you budding VanGoghs. Let's have some fun with this thing.


Bob Newland said...

Well, Bill, I'm..., uh, speechless.

Bill Fleming said...

So, Bob, I hear you printed one out.

I've not done that yet.

How do they look?

Can you see the hatchmarks throughout the whole piece?

Down small, it still looks pretty photo-realish, photo-shoppy, but up large it should start looking kind of pop artsie, textur-o-shusly funky-fried. Does it?

(Ahem, That's high brow art talk people. Don't let it intimidate you, ok?)

Neal said...

How many do you think PP will buy?

Bill Fleming said...

My hope is that PP makes some art, so people will want to have a print of it. He's got kind of a knack for it, actually. Not as good as BOJ or Detroit Lewis, but he's gettin' there.

You may recall, Neal, that Powers actually did speak out publicly against Judge Delaney's provision that Bob's 1st Amendment Rights had to be surrendered regarding the Medical Marijuana issue.

And that's fairly impressive, since Powers is adamantly opposed to any legalization of organic marijuana or even hemp,for any purpose, as far as I can tell.

Taunia Adams said...

Damned awesome, BF.

I'm impressed.

Bill Fleming said...

Thanks, Taunia.

Bob tells me it looks pretty good printed.

I haven't had time to make a large giclee yet, but I know what's in there and I think it should make a pretty strong, coherent visual statement on a formal. purely aesthetic level.

Symbolically, yeah, I think its working. Glad you agree.