Unhinged 40 X 18

Unhinged (Mixed Media/Acrylic 40″ X 18″)


In the simplest of terms, sanity can be defined as the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not. This concept seems straightforward enough at first glance, but if you think about it for a while, the line between reality and illusion is not as bright and clear as we think.

Some examples might help illustrate what I mean. A good magician can make us question everything we see. Or consider how, as time passes and the body of human knowledge increases, we have found that many things we once thought were fantasy are actually true, and some things we thought were true are actually fantasy. Also, there are things upon which two intelligent people can have opposite ideas regarding what is real and what is not, UFO’s, global warming, Donald Trumps hair…

Sometimes the line between reality and illusion is blurred and manipulated intentionally by advertisers, politicians, movie special effects masters, and charismatic zealots of all kinds. At times, the line is obscured by the limits of our senses or knowledge.

For me, what these mental meanderings lead to is; how do I express these thoughts using the language of landscape painting? My answer was this painting, a realistic illusion of a small section of door and wall on an ordinary old metal farm building. If, upon first glancing at this piece you thought someone had just cut out part of an old building and framed it… you were momentarily deluded.

This painting is more than just a realistic rendering of reality (say that fast three times!). The graphic elements of the painting are intended to function as an abstract design, and the black wedge above the hinge hints at the darkness that lies just beyond the very fragile boundaries of sanity.

It can be extremely disorienting and disturbing when your impression of what is true or real undergoes a shift. I wonder, is reality merely a belief shared by the majority?

Just thinking about it is enough to make you become “Unhinged”.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski


Kilroy Lives Here

Kilroy Lives Here

Kilroy Lives Here (Mixed Media/Acrylic)

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”.

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 civilian lives to live unassumingly and inconspicuously among us without fanfare and braggadocio; and on this Memorial Day weekend, even more it is a tribute to those that served and did not return.

Thank you.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

Back Porch Blues

Back Porch Blues 23 X 40

Back Porch Blues (Mixed Media/Acrylic 23″ X 40″)

Back Porch Blues

In September of 1985 the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, and many other local police agencies, assisted the University of Illinois Police Department by helping provide crowd control and security at the very first Farm Aid benefit concert at Memorial Stadium. I worked the evening and night shift. Before our shift started there was a briefing where, among other things, individual duty posts were assigned. We came to the end of the briefing and all of the posts had been assigned, but I still had no assignment. I called this to the attention of the commanding officer. He had better things to do than dream up a duty post for me, so he pointed to a golf cart and told me to make myself available as a “rover” to assist wherever and whenever needed. I disappeared in the wink of an eye. If I had been a cartoon character there would have been a ricochet sound effect and a puff of smoke as I left the briefing room. By this time I had been a Deputy for 5 years and I knew a good deal when I heard one. This was Farm Aid – no problems were expected and none occurred. Essentially I had been given a back stage all access pass to the biggest concert event since Woodstock. I did not let the opportunity go to waste.

One of my fondest memories of the event is meeting “King of the Blues” B. B. King. I was checking (snooping around) the tent where the performers were being served snacks and meals. B. B. King walked in just as I was leaving, we had a brief “doorway dance” at the tent entrance. It was one of those awkward moments where you felt the need to say something but… what do you say? So I mentioned all of the available food and how good it smelled (if my memory serves me correctly, it was Tyson Foods). B. B. King invited me to sit with him and have something to eat. Me and B. B. King. It was not EXACTLY what I was supposed to be doing but… no way was I going to say no to that offer. So I had some light conversation and fried chicken with B. B. King.

I am telling you this now because B. B. King passed away yesterday. He was a gentleman and a great artist, and he leaves the world a better place because he was in it.

The name of the painting above is “Back Porch Blues”.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

This is the musical lineup for the first Farm Aid: Alabama, Hoyt Axton, The Beach Boys, The Blasters, Bon Jovi, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels Band, John Denver, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Vince Gill, Arlo Guthrie, Sammy Hagar, Merle Haggard, Daryl Hall, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, George Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, B. B. King, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Huey Lewis, Loretta Lynn, John Mellencamp, Roger Miller, Joni Mitchell, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Charley Pride, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Kenny Rogers, Brian Setzer, Sissy Spacek, Tanya Tucker, Van Halen, Debra Winger, Neil Young, Dave Milsap, Joe Ely, Judy Rodman, X

“I can’t think of anyone I’ve mistreated. I’ve always thought that I am my brother’s keeper. And I believe there’s a ‘great spirit’ that takes care of all of us.”
B.B. King

“I believe all musical talent comes from God as a way to express beauty and human emotion.”
B.B. King

Beneath Her Sheltering Arms

Beneath Her Sheltering Arms 16 X 40 framed

Beneath Her Sheltering Arms (Mixed Media/Acrylic 16″ X 40″)

Beneath Her Sheltering Arms

This painting was inspired by some thoughts about motherhood, and how much mothers sacrifice for their families. Instead of using their energy and resources to reach for the sky themselves, mothers instead reach outward so that they may more completely embrace and shelter their children. Mothers put their needs and desires aside so their children can thrive and reach their full potential, “Beneath Her Sheltering Arms”.

Image and Text © 2015 James Golaszewski

They Who Dream By Day

They Who Dream By Day

They Who Dream By Day (Mixed Media/Acrylic)

They Who Dream By Day

I consider myself to be a dreamer, and I find myself drawn to others of like mind. I realize that to many, the label “dreamer” is considered to be an insult, meaning that one makes unachievable and fanciful plans that fly in the face of “reality” at the expense of using their time and energy on more practical pursuits. In this context, “reality” is used as another word for limitations. I am not trying to say there are no limitations, because clearly there are. Rather, I think the limits we perceive are not where we think they are, they are mirages of barriers that may be somewhere over the horizon. Limitations need to be challenged. Barriers must be tested.

Like most things, dreams come in various sizes and shapes. Some dream of solving the problems and puzzles that confront humanity, while some dream of simpler things that are more personal. While I appreciate the big dreamers and am grateful for the fruits of their dreams, I feel more of a kinship with the “day dreamers”.

I remember a study I learned about in Psych 101. As I recall, in this study there were two sets of subjects. They subjected both groups to an increasing level of pain, supplied by an electric shock. The subjects were instructed to continuously rate their level of pain. One group had a big red button in front of them. This group was told that they could press the button at any time and the pain would stop. The button, in fact, was connected to nothing but the test subjects did not know that. The other group had no button and was told they had no control over the pain. Both groups received identical electric shocks, which gradually increased in severity. The group that thought they could make the pain stop whenever they chose to, rated their level of pain as being significantly less than the level reported by the group that thought they had no control.

I think our dreams serve the same purpose as that red button, they offer a way out. Whether or not we push the button is up to us. It takes courage to dream, in addition to exposing yourself to ridicule and sideways glances, many fear that allowing yourself to dream can expose you to regrets if the dreams go unfulfilled. What true dreamers know, however, is to just have the dream is liberating. The pursuit of the dream may never be necessary. It is only required that the dreamer intends to pursue the dream “someday”. The mere existence of the dream has a healing effect on the life of the dreamer. It is the concept of the dream that can keep us alive.

This painting was inspired by something I saw while wandering the country roads in east central Illinois. I stumbled upon a scene very similar to what is depicted in this painting. There was an old and neglected sailboat on a rusted trailer parked next to a dilapidated barn; weeds and grass were growing around and through the trailer and boat. The boat was in a condition of general disrepair. Birds and critters of all descriptions had set up housekeeping in the boat. It was a veritable “Barnyard Ark”. It was obvious that the boat had not been moved or received any attention for quite some time.

I wondered what circumstances caused this vessel, clearly intended for open water, to be abandoned next to a barn in the middle of an ocean of corn and soybeans. I imagined it must have been placed there by a fellow dreamer, one that intended to repair it and use it someday as a gateway to maritime adventure. I hoped that the dream was still alive.

I was going to title this piece “Someday”, but in the end, I decided to base the title on a quote that I love from “Eleonora”, a short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity; and thrill; in waking; to find they have been upon the verge of the great secret.”

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski