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.

 

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State of Being

Starchild 14 X 31 Mixed Media Acrylic

Everything.

Began in the Beginning.

A singular event when time, matter, and space were created.

All that was, is, or will be comes from this single event – even that which is us.

 

Starting.

From the center.

Expanding outward into the void.

Forming reality from emptiness and desolation.

 

Home.

The man looks.

Toward the center of the galaxy.

Wondering, what purpose does his existence serve?

 

Understanding.

That he cannot know.

His purpose in the Universe.

As a brushstroke knows not its purpose.

 

Learning.

Peace is not.

Lack of conflict.

It is a State of Being.

 

 

Image and text © 2018 James Golaszewski

Merry Christmas

Peace And Quiet 30 X 18 Mixed Media Acrylic

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us…
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”   (Isaiah 9:6).

It is my Christmas wish that now and in the time ahead we seek peace, find peace, and bring peace to those we influence.  Though we cannot change the whole world, we can change the world within the reach of our arms, and that is a good start.

Merry Christmas, Peace be with you.

Untitled-1

What Will People Think

What Will People Think 18 X 48

There is a huge difference between who we are, and who we think we are.

We are all familiar with the tired movie plot about the oddball that is rejected by the group, only to prove to be the salvation of the group during a crisis at the end of the movie.  The quirky kid that has a lot to offer but nevertheless is ostracized from the “cool table” in the high school cafeteria.  The goth girl with mad dancing skills that is rejected by the cheerleaders, until a cheerleader falls ill before the “big competition”. They then reluctantly let the oddball join the team and she wins it all for the team that rejected her.  The quiet guy that is ignored by the coach until the “big game”, then in an act of surrender or desperation the coach puts him in and he reveals previously overlooked superstar skills that bring victory for the team.

When watching a movie, you can easily see the toxic nature of the tribal nature of our society.  It is easy for you to kid yourself into thinking you are better than that, that you would not be so rude as to turn your back on someone that chooses a slightly different path.

The truth is quite different.  Shunning and ostracizing those that are different is alive and well in our modern society, and in our schools and neighborhoods. For group membership to have value there have to be those that are excluded from the group, and the exclusions have to be enforced by the group members.

And that exclusion is ugly.

There are two components to this social bullying.  First, the tribe ignores and belittles the positive qualities of those that are deemed not fit to join the group. The second, and more damning aspect of this behavior, is turning a blind eye to the misdeeds and bad behavior of those in the group.

The title,” What Will People Think”, has no question mark because it is not a question, it is a challenge. The resident of the house does not care what people think, rather the house was uniquely painted to make people think.

The painting is intended to make people think about the disconnect between who they are and who they think they are.  When watching a movie, you sympathize with the outsider and clearly see the group behavior is toxic.  Yet, day to day, do you see it as clearly? Which table are you sitting at?

Image and Text © 2017 James Golaszewski

Rock Star

Rock Star 6 X 41

In the daytime, when the bright sky casts a protective canopy over the landscape, it is easy to forget that we are living on a planet hurtling through space in a universe occupied by an uncountable number of stars, planets, asteroids, comets… and who knows what.

On a clear night, the big blue curtain is cast aside and the reality is revealed, it becomes apparent that we are not alone and we are part of the infinite. I find the effect to be both calming and unsettling at the same time.

It often makes me wonder if there is life somewhere out there. There are two options. Life exists only on earth, in which case the fact that earth dwellers are the only living things in such a vast universe makes me wonder what we are supposed to be doing with such a special gift. Or, there is life out there somewhere, which makes me wonder what the other life forms are like, what are they doing, and are there artists among them?

I do not quite understand the science behind it, but the moon always seems larger than life when it first rises above the horizon. It always makes me feel as if Mother Nature is putting on a show just for me, and it is what inspired this painting.

I almost titled this painting “The Light Side of the Moon”, in reference to the classic Pink Floyd Album, “The Dark Side of the Moon”. After tossing it around in my head for a while (there is plenty of room in there…), I decided to go with the title that was in my mind as I painted this piece, “Rock Star”. The title, “Rock Star”, is a play on words. In a literal sense, the moon is a big rock, yet it shines in the night sky brighter than any star. Taken another way, the title is intended as a reference to the way the moon dominates the sky. Like a true “Rock Star”, the moon knows how to make an entrance.

Image and Text © 2017 James Golaszewski

No Worries

No WorriesNo Worries

Many of the “happiness gurus” tell us that the secret to happiness and contentment is to live our lives “in the moment”.  We are told that worrying about the uncertainty of the future is a waste of time, and agonizing over mistakes and missteps in our past is a waste of energy.  They preach that true happiness lies in the here and now.

If you think about it, you quickly realize that the only thing that is real is this moment, right now.  Everything else is an illusion, a memory, or a mirage of what may me in the future.  The concept is easy to grasp, but how do you put it into practice?  I have been seeking the answer to this question for quite some time.

I was exploring an old barn on a beautiful July morning.  Even though exploring old barns is one of my favorite things to do, my mind kept wandering off in miscellaneous directions, rehashing old mistakes, and anticipating future problems.  Then I saw the cat.  The cat was serene and content.

In that moment I realized the cat had it all figured out.

The cat did not care what event in the past caused the window to be broken, nor did the cat worry that the broken window will allow foul weather to enter the barn at some time in the future.  The cats’ only concern was that, here and now, at that exact moment, everything was fine.  The broken window provided a cooling breeze, while at the same time the broken opening in the dirty glass created a good vantage point from which to observe the world.

The cat had “No Worries” as he waits on the windowsill, waiting for the Universe to deliver something amusing.

There is a Zen saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.  I had found my teacher.

 

Image and text © 2017 James Golaszewski