Kilroy Lives Here

kilroy-lives-here-8-x-48-mixed-media

Kilroy Lives Here

During WWII, the United States Armed Forces personnel started what would now be referred to as “viral” graffiti. The graffiti consisted of a simple image of what looked like a bald man peering over a wall combined with the text “Kilroy Was Here”.

kilroy

Ever since, this graffiti has been left in odd and unexpected places wherever members of the United States Armed Forces serve.

I have always respected the people that serve in the United States Armed Forces. I admire the heroic way they deal with the stresses of their service combined with the quiet humility they display upon returning to their civilian lives. It has been my experience that most of the returning soldiers keep their exploits to themselves, quietly picking up their lives where they left off. Most often, it is only when reading an obituary that I discover that someone I had known for years as a postal worker, doctor, truck driver, or farmer, had been a decorated veteran.

This painting is a tribute to the veterans that return to their pre-service lives to live unassumingly and inconspicuously among us without fanfare and braggadocio.

Thank you.

Image and text © 2016 James Golaszewski

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August

August 15 X 48

August.

The last gasp of full Summer.

Delightful hot days and warm nights.

Joy, tempered by the knowledge that Summer is near its end.

Melancholy, assuaged by the anticipated beauty of the approaching Autumn.

Then, Winter.

 

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski

 

July 4th Blues

July 4th Blues

July 4th Blues

I painted this in the middle of a long cold winter several years ago. I imagined a place of warmth and peace as I painted. I had to immerse myself in the illusion, and in the process I went a little crazy(er). As I painted I imagined myself in the world I was creating, walking down the road on the Fourth of July. The whole scene existed only in my imagination at first, and each element in the painting ended up with a back story (kind of like Bob Ross and his “happy little trees”).

To celebrate the 4th of July, let’s take a walk together down this idyllic country road. You can’t see it in this tiny little image, but there is a dog in the yard of the house at the bottom of the hill. His name is Max; we can say high to him as we walk past.

A beautiful moment on a beautiful day in a beautiful place in the middle of summer…you are invited to stroll down the road and bask in the peace and beauty.

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski

 

“I guess my feet know where they want me to go…
Walking on a country road.”

James Taylor “Country Road”

 

The Storm Within

The Storm Within 14 X 36 Mixed Media Acrylic 2018

The Storm Within

This is a view of the Chicago harbor lighthouse as seen from within the harbor, looking east toward the protective breakwater, rising sun, and Lake Michigan. The sky is clearing and the lake is calm while the water in the harbor is unnaturally unsettled and choppy.  This is contrary to expectations.  There is no apparent reason for the water within the harbor to be turbulent while the surrounding lake is calm and the sky is peaceful. Yet the water in the harbor is clearly agitated.  This should not be so.  The harbor is supposed to be safe, calm, and protected.  What is wrong with the harbor water, has it gone crazy?

This painting is about PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), The Storm Within.

 

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski all rights reserved

Learning To Live With Ghosts

Learning To Live With With Ghosts 10 X 40 2018

Learning to Live with Ghosts

We all have “things” in our past.  Good things we miss.  Painful things we wish had never happened.  Heroic things we are proud of. Stupid things we wish we had never done.  Selfish things we wish we had done differently.  People that, for whatever reason, are no longer part of our life. Wonderful things we cherish. Things beyond our control that turned out badly.

You know, “things…”

In the world I created in this painting, we see a corn-crib in the background that has fallen into disrepair and is obviously a thing of the past, while in the foreground there is a barn of similar vintage that is clearly well maintained and still in use.  The sun rises on a calm snow covered morning.

The past and present existing simultaneously in the same place.

In our youth, we stress and agonize over the question, “what am I going to do with my life?”   Then, time passes, and you agonize over the question, “what have I done with my life?”  You miss the good times, try to forget the bad times, and regret missed opportunities and time wasted fussing over events and things that ultimately prove to be insignificant.

People come and go, leaving you changed for better or worse. You mourn the loss of those that enriched your life, while you struggle to break free from those that left you damaged.

The secret is to learn as you go so you can keep making progress as a person, traveling with the ghosts of your past.

Like many things, it is a process.  As for me, I am still “Learning to Live with Ghosts”.

 

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski all rights reserved

 

 

The Traveler

The Traveler 30 X 18 Mixed Media Acrylic

 

The Traveler

 

Moving

Through time and space.

 

Guided

By gravity and momentum.

 

Forces

Not under his control.

 

Aimless

Yet not without direction.

 

Although

The Traveler always travels.

 

He

Is always where he is.

 

 

 

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski all rights reserved

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel 30 X 26 mixed media acrylic

Guardian Angel

This piece was inspired by my encounter with the person (was it a person?) I have come to think of as “The Foosland Demon”.

I don’t want to bore you, but a little background information is in order.

I worked 35 years as a Law Enforcement Deputy Sheriff, every second of it spent on the streets serving the citizens of Champaign County as a Patrol Deputy for the Champaign County Sheriffs Office. Early in my career I worked the overnight shift. Champaign County covers about 1000 square miles (998, to be exact). After 11:00 pm, it was not unusual to have 2 patrol officers and one patrol supervisor on duty. That meant 500 square miles for each deputy, and the sergeant patrolling either Dunkin’ Donuts or “The Home Stretch” restaurant.

If you needed help, it could take your backup deputy over 30 minutes to get to you, – and that was assuming that the other deputy was not busy dealing with some other problem somewhere else. And, when your backup did arrive, now there were two deputies on scene. Not exactly an overwhelming force.

Anyway, one particular summer night there were several heavy thunderstorms wandering across the county. Being flat and open country, I was able to see the lightning  from the storms as they moved across the county. Being a practical person, I decided to patrol only the areas that were not getting rained on. This plan was going real well until about 3:00 am, at which time I was dispatched to investigate a “suspicious person” standing on a roadway near “Foosland”, which is a village (population of 101) in the far northwest corner of the county.

It was storming in Foosland when I got there. I checked around and was not able to locate the individual, which was fine with me. At the time, when we cleared a call we had to radio in “beat, mileage and codes” using a chart indicating patrol beat numbers, the distance from Urbana, and a sheet with FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Codes. I stopped in the middle of the road just outside Foosland and looked down to consult my code book. It was storming so hard that the wind was rocking the squad and the rain was blasting at the windows.

When I looked up from my code book there was someone standing in the road right in front of my squad. He was standing motionless, staring at me. The wind and rain were howling and my wipers were banging back and forth on high. He was about 30 or so, wearing a trench coat, long stringy hair and a long beard. Even though he was soaked, he looked filthy. He looked like he had fleas, mange, scabies, and cooties – the proverbial drowned rat. I did not want to touch him. I did not want to get wet ( I did not have my rain coat on… because, remember, I was only patrolling the dry parts of the county…). I did not want to get out of the squad.

That was when I made my decision. A bad decision.

I should have searched him, but I did not want to touch him, and I did not want to get wet.

I leaned over and unlocked the rear passenger door (no power windows/locks or prisoner cages in those days) and motioned for him to get into the back seat, which he did. And then he sat there. He said nothing, and would not answer my questions.

Now I was stuck with him. One of the things you learn as a cop is, unless you want to adopt them, don’t put anyone in your squad unless you already have a plan for getting them out. So apparently this was my night for ignoring the rules, ’cause I had no clue what I was going to do with him now that he was in my squad.

So I did what we all did in those days in situations such as this, I decided to dump him at Burnham City Hospital (I mean transport for evaluation).

I drove with him in silence for the 40 minutes it took to get from Foosland to Champaign. He was seated behind me in the stormy darkness the whole time. With no security cage. From time to time lightning or car headlights would illuminate him, and I could see him in the rear view mirror, staring at me. He was all tensed up and he seemed to be straining. I hoped he wasn’t… well you know, defecating. With each passing minute I began to reconsider my decision not to search him, but it was raining, he was wet, he smelled like a muskrat…

We made it to Burnham City Hospital. I decided to search him before I took him into the ER.

There was an ambulance bay on the east side of the hospital, I escorted him into the bay and out of the rain. Before I started my search I asked him if he had any weapons or contraband. With a blank stare he pulled his hand out of the sleeve of his coat. He was holding a HUGE hunting knife, a Conan/Rambo class knife.

As he handed the knife to me, he calmly said, “I was going to kill you. I wanted to lean over the seat and cut your throat… but your guardian angel held me back.” I must have looked stunned, because he then added, “you don’t know, do you… about your guardian angel?” Now it was my turn to be mute. He shook his head, turned around, and put his hands behind his back. I put handcuffs on him (better late than never, right?) and took him into the ER for an evaluation.

The title of this painting is Guardian Angel.

Sometimes, when the storms come, you just have to admit that you are not as smart as you think you are, and some things are beyond your understanding. On those days you just have to trust your Guardian Angel.

Painting and text © 2018 James Golaszewski

NOTE: I went back to Foosland the next night and looked around. I saw there was a culvert underneath the road where I had been stopped. I figured that the guy had found shelter under the roadway, and emerged when he heard me stopped above. Or maybe not.