The Quiet Game

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Rear View Mirror

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Cutting Bayonets

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Sam Brown

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Boys Will Be

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Child, Version of Child

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Another Brick in the Wall

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Two Figures, Forebears

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Sam Brown (study)

5″x8″
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Girls in Shrubs

9″x12″

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Drawing Faces

16″x20″
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Projection

11″x14″

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Two Figures

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Frida Kahlo #3

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Elizabeth Taylor

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Leonard Cohen

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Lead Belly

12″ x 12″
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James Joyce

12″ x 12″
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Shel Silverstein

12″ x 12″
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Virginia Woolf

12″ x 12″
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Bill Berkson

12″ x 12″
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Michael Jackson

12″ x 12″
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Shimon Peres

12″ x 12″
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Tetherball

11″x15

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Jerry Garcia

12″x12″

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Bob Dylan

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Pupils and Bees

24″ x 30″
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Eudora Welty

12″x12″
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Pablo Picasso

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Emily Dickinson

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Alberto Giacometti

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Pupils

24″ x 30″

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Orphans & Hornets

44″ x 58″
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Orphans & Ribbons

36″ x 36″
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Orphans & Bees

36″ x 60″
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William Faulkner no. 3

12″x12″
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Sylvia Plath

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Woody Guthrie

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Terrence McNally

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William Faulkner no. 2

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Loretta Lynn

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Serge Gainsbourg

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Gertrude Stein

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Elie Wiesel

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Frida Kahlo no. 2

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Prosperity Cake

16″ x 20″
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Arlington

24″ x 36″
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Wish You Were Here

24″ x 36″
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Muhammad Ali

12″ x 12″
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Shubuta Fountain

5″x5″
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Swim

20″x20″
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Car

6″x8″
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Tails

6″x8″
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Lake

24″ x 30″
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Marco Polo

20″ x 20″
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A One and a Two

18″ x 24″

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Marc Chagall

12″ x 12″
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Prince

12″ x 12″

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Golda Meir

12″ x 12″
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Carl Sagan

12″ x 12″

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Bathing Suits

8″ x 10″
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Oscar Wilde

12″ x 12″

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Tiger Man

8″ x 10″
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Songs for Sundays

30″ x 40″

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Jean-Michel Basquiat

12″ x 12″

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Simone de Beauvoir

12″ x 12″

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Franz Kafka

12″ x 12″

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Frida Kahlo

12″ x 12″

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Patty Duke

12″ x 12″
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Jim Henson

12″ x 12″
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William Faulkner

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Did You Ever Watch a Moonbeam

48″ x 72″
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Personhood of Farms

30″ x 48″
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Helen Keller

12″ x 12″

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Phife Dawg

12″ x 12″

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Belle Meade

16″ x 20″
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Picasso and Upside-Down Newark

16″ x 20″
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Hayfield

16″ x 20″
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Flo

16″ x 20″
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Lylah’s Bus

12″ x 24″
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Wish You Were Here

16″ x 20″
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Specter Projector

16″ x 20″
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Life on the Moon

16″ x 20″
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Plastic Pool

7″ x 9″
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Personhood of Birds

7″ x 9″
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Pirate’s Cove

7″ x 9″

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Out from Penn Station

7″ x 9″

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Hayfield

7″ x 9″
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Harper Lee

12″ x 12″
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Natchez Bluff (panel 17)

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XVII.
The two children (“the Wastrels” as I call them) have come for a visit in the old town. Originally they came from the frontispiece in my mother’s copy of “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson (signed to her by my great great grandfather who appears as a baby in the first panel, on the back of Emeline Netter). I have painted these children many times over the years. Sometimes they appear innocent, quizzical, whimsical. Other times they manage a precarious existence, living under ground, in trees, between worlds.

The ghosts rise not just from the Natchez Cemetery, but also from the site of the so-called ‘contraband camp’ referred to as The Corral. The camp was set up by an under-prepared Union army when it found itself over-run by slaves fleeing the plantations in the surrounding county. The Union army had no plan to house or protect the newly freed men, women and children, so they created a temporary camp, where an unknown number of African Americans perished from starvation and disease. The number dead is understood to be between one and three thousand. Those that managed to survive did so with nothing more than in-season peaches for sustenance. The discarded pits grew into a grove of peach trees which stands as the only marker to the tragedy.

The grandmother of a friend drives her Plymouth, as she always did, to watch the sun set from the bluff.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 16)

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XVI.
The Maypole ribbons whip in the wind.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 15)

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XV.
A hot air balloon with presumably a very anxious passenger.

The train engine is one that actually just sold at auction. It used to run on the track from Natchez to nearby Washington, MS.

According to maps in the Historic Natchez Foundation archive, the old train round-table existed on this spot. Those who are familiar with the Natchez Pageant will recognize the ‘placard bearers’ and their paired rotation. Elysium, the Elysian Fields, is the idyllic afterworld for the blessed and fortunate. For a place with so few actual Greeks, the Hellenic sensibility shows well in the Antebellum South.

A giant possum sings “Won’t you come home Bill Bailey, won’t you come home,” presumably in time with the calliope player a few panels back.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 14)

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XIV.
A monstrous tornado that struck Natchez in 1840 killed 317, mostly those Under-the Hill, tossing boats out of the river, sometimes considerable distances.

A tableaux from the Natchez Pageant that celebrated the various National flags that have flown over Natchez. Notably the Confederacy was considered a nation whose standing equalled that of Spain, Britain, France, and the United States. As recently as 2014, there were still Confederate Flag Runners as part of the Garden Club Courts. That is preposterous.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 13)

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XIII.
Farmers from the FSA photograph by Marion Post Wolcott in the NYPL photography archive.

The king and queen of the Confederate Court, striding from behind the train depot, or the old catfish restaurant, as I knew it.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 12)

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XII.
A man playing the calliope. Calliope was the most eloquent of all Muses in Greek Mythology. When a steamboat would dock, the sound of the steam calliope could be heard all over town. Jumpy ragtime melodies, loud and warped, were both lovely and grotesque.

Family letters and diaries describe various scourges of Yellow Fever that took many lives, often children’s. Of the letters that survive from my family members in Natchez, seventy percent (let’s say) are about different illnesses and symptoms, boils and broken limbs. Consumption and cholera. The rest is about sewing, the weather, and wishing that to whomever the letter was written would come home.

Natchez Indians stand beneath the divine sun.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 11)

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XI.
The two red figures are from a drawing by William Johnson, the famous “Barber of Natchez.” He described and then illustrated in his diary a fist fight that he witnessed in the street.

The cherub is from a 17th century French map of New Orleans, conceivably there could have been one of Natchez. The pudgy celestial infant appears to be dragging the River. Goodness knows what will turn up.

The portrait is of Walter Barnes, the beloved band leader whose orchestra drew a crowd of hundreds to the Rhythm Club on St. Catherine Street on April 23, 1940. The night ended in a devastating fire, killing 209 people, mostly African American. My great great grandfather’s house was just a few blocks away on N. Union and he went the next morning with many others to see the bodies.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 10)

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X.
The momumental head of a pre-Christian diety. Themes of grandeur, decay. The Greek Revival. Maybe even Odysseus, the Lotus-Eaters, a cautionary tale.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 9)

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IX.
The barber scene is from an FSA photograph taken by Ben Shahn in the New York Public Library Archive. In the background you can see that they were on the bluff, right around this area.

Itinerant preachers used to go around the South teaching shaped note singing, a complex harmonic singing using shapes to denote different tones. They used The Sacred Harp Hymnal; the recordings I’ve heard are otherworldly. My grandfather used to talk about the Sacred Harp gatherings. The preacher here sings from the hymnal: “And alas did my savior bleed? And did my sov’reign die! Would he devote that sacred head to such a worm as I?”

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Natchez Bluff (panel 8)

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VIII.
There is a long artistic history of anthropomorphized animals, surrogates for human behavior that is hardly human. The mule is from Goya’s Los Caprichos, his series of etchings on war and human error.

The figures on the gazebo came from historical photos in the HNF archive.

The round headed fellow is my great grandfather, Dr. David Smith, who was an optometrist. He disappeared in the early 1920’s and died at Whitfield Hospital in the 1960’s. That’s all I know about that. I have a pamphlet from his optometrist shop and my Grandmother kept a photo of him on her desk, though nothing was ever said about him.

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Natchez Bluff (panel 7)

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VII.
A bed barge. A barge, but it’s a bed.

The hut is from Alexandre de Batz, an 18th century etching of a Natchez Indian dwelling. Next to the hut is scribbled “I can edit this out later”. And I did – originally a group of Klansmen having a picnic.

This panel and the next depict a scene from the book “Southwest by a Yankee” by Joseph Holt Ingraham (the figure in pen). He describes a slave auction happening on Main Street in Natchez as two slaves stand by watching. Ingraham overheard them discussing what they were bought for, compared to the man on the auction block.

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