Ghosts of 1963: Salvador Dali, His Wife, The Witch, and an Absolute Bomb

While researching reference material for this studio work, I came across a photo of Salvador Dali and his wife, sitting on that boulder beside the dying snag of cypress in the center of the painting. Look close and you’ll see them.

A lot has changed since they sat there in 1963. The grass is gone, trampled by tourists revealing an even greater boneyard of white granite.

And the tourists. Oh my. I’m not knocking them, I’m one of them when I’m here, marveling at this wonder of nature. But when I tried to paint a small study here, just a few steps from that boulder, there were so many people there that as soon as I set up my gear to paint, I was surrounded by a crowd of onlookers asking questions, poking at my wet paint, smiling, nodding, taking photos, you name it. It was nuts.

I keep a pair of headphones in my gear for tuning out distractions in times like this. Even that wasn’t enough. They kept coming on, crowding around and asking questions that would sadly not be answered today. Out of survival, to create some mental space and focus, I did what I had to do. I started singing. Loudly, and badly. Punk rock songs from my youth on full blast, for the world to hear and withdraw from in embarrassment. It
worked. I had a great time that day.

Afterwards I hopped a fence to sit on that boulder and eat a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich while pondering whether Salvador Dali would have liked 80’s punk rock or not. I may never know, but I’ll ask him if I ever make it back to 1963.

And a painting like this deserves a poem as well I think…

Pay the toll⠀
A piece of your soul⠀
And leave it there as a sign⠀
A cardboard box⠀
Full of rocks and socks⠀
From which we will rise in their mind⠀
And captivated⠀
Forever to walk this lonely line⠀
They’ll see us standing⠀
Calling out in the night⠀
With bare feet wet from the brine⠀
They’ll slow to a stop⠀
They’ll wonder how⠀
The water and ethers combined⠀
If they listen we’ll say⠀
It was because we payed⠀
The guard at the gate to get by⠀

So heed my words⠀
And stare straight ahead⠀
For it’s from this earth you were made⠀
You belong on it truly⠀
Its dirt is your body⠀
And these guards are made only of shade⠀

You’re a plumber⠀
A builder or an electrician⠀
Whatever it takes to convince them⠀
To let you pass⠀
Without taking your cash⠀
It’s not the money it’s the darkness it gets them⠀
So give them only a nod⠀
A two finger wave⠀
And a subtle but sure acceleration ⠀
With confidence high⠀
Drive right by⠀
Subterfuge will be your declaration ⠀
That you belong in their night⠀
But this day is all yours⠀
Like Dali, and Griffin, and Vincent⠀
Masters of sight⠀
Pursuing their vision⠀
Trespassing all baseless tradition⠀
Their work lives on⠀
But they are gone⠀
At rest and free from earth’s friction⠀

So when the future arrives⠀
And they ask our ghosts why⠀
We’re still here and still walking this path⠀
We’ll tell them plain⠀
We believed the guards⠀
Who said we’d have to pay to get past⠀

So stay free in the sun⠀
And when the day is done⠀
Just move right along down the line⠀
And pay not a dime⠀
To the liars in wait⠀
Who seek to trap you in debt for all time⠀

Artwork Information:

Artwork Title: "Ghosts of 1963: Salvador Dali, His Wife, The Witch, and an Absolute Bomb"
Original Size: 66" x 30"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2017

Additional Artwork Information:

Method: Studio Landscapes
Region: The California Coast > Central California > Monterey

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