Oh the irony: The unfinished work “Self Portrait with 5 Eyes” by Richard Bledsoe
acrylic on canvas 36″ x 36″
It’s been an eventful two months.
October 4, 2017, started off great. My wife Michele Bledsoe and I both had the day off of work. I had a 6 am Arizona time Skype discussion scheduled with a college class in Louisiana. I gave a presentation about the art movement Remodernism and my own artistic experiences.
After the Skype session, Michele and I followed up on a birthday present I had received: tickets to Scottsdale’s OdySea Aquarium. Animals fascinate me, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to see watery creatures right here in the desert.
It was a great time. We got there just as they opened; being early on a Wednesday morning, the place wasn’t crowded at all. The aquarium provided a whole multimedia experience. At an interactive exhibit, I stuck my hand into a frigid pool and petted a sea anemone. I marveled as its little tentacles wrapped around my finger. We watched a 3D movie that projected whales life sized. We took a ride in a revolving theater which rotated to show four different environments, full of amazing animals. Michele filmed the whole thing, and made a wonderful Youtube video of it, linked here: A Trip to the Aquarium Video.
The marine creatures on display were beautiful. We watched rays, sharks, catfish, seals, otters, penguins, and crabs in action. There was huge, intricate installation of a coral reef, swarming with dazzling fish. The aquarium even featured a few rescued sea turtles. Several have a condition called “bubble butt.” Damage had introduced a bubble of gas inside their shells, and they can’t dive. The aquarium rehabilitates these turtles by attaching weights to them, which restores their equilibrium.
A sea turtle with bubble butt
After the wonderful visit to the aquarium, Michele and I had a mellow day planned. We were going to go out to lunch, then spend a quiet evening at home, painting. I was trying to complete an unusual piece for me: a self portrait. I depicted myself in front of a strange geometric background I invented on the canvas. I’d been working on this piece on and off for months, and I was eager to finish it.
But first, I wanted to run an errand, and get new glasses. I’d had my current glasses for years, and I felt like I wasn’t seeing well through them anymore.
We went to a typical glasses place in the mall. At that point, everything changed.
When looking into the bright lights of the eye exam, I realized that I had no vision in about a third of my left eye. I only saw darkness.
The optometrist reviewed the results, and immediately set an appointment with a retinal specialist. Immediate as in, go straight to the eye doctor, right now.
We went. During the exam, as the doctors peered into my eye and reviewed their scans, they kept saying, “So close!” I finally asked what was so close. They explained my retina was almost completely detached, barely holding on. I needed to have emergency surgery. They would introduce a bubble of gas inside of my eye to try to hold it together. This made me think of the sea turtles I had seen just hours before. Life is full of the most amazing synchronicities, when you look at it the right way.
The surgery couldn’t be scheduled until the next day. More synchronicity seeped in during the operation. I was sedated but conscious during the procedure. They covered my face with a perforated blue blanket while they worked. The operating theater lights shining through the tiny holes blurred and shifted as I looked up at them, creating a uncanny replica of the blue and white background I had painted on my self portrait. I guess I knew what was coming in some way. As I laid there listening to the murmured conversations of the surgical team, images of coral reefs played through my mind, like the one I has seen in the aquarium, but darkened, like it was night.
After the surgery, the really fun part started. To heal, I had to spend a week lying on my right side. We were grateful it was the side, because often this type of operation requires spending a week face down. Imagine trying to lie face down for a whole week, we kept saying. That would be so hard!
I could see the bubble floating inside of my eye. Because of the way the eye flips things, it always appeared on the opposite side of where it actually was. I called myself the human level, after the tool that uses a bubble to test the straightness of flat surfaces. Around the bubble, the vision in my left eye was like looking through curved jello. Eventually this bubble will go away on its own.
The first follow up visits with the doctors went well. Then at the 2 week mark, they discovered my retina was pulling off again. I had to have a second operation, an even bigger bubble, and ended up having to spend 8 days laying face down. I don’t recommend this experience to anyone. We did rent some special equipment to make it easier.
I was even face down for our 14th wedding anniversary, on Halloween.
Since then I have made steady improvements. I can now see over (actually under) the bubble in my eye, and the retina is still in place. We expect a full recovery. It’s been a very challenging time, but I went through it without fear or discouragement. There are several reasons why.
Michele was incredible through this whole situation, everything a wife can be: loving, supportive, encouraging, and creative. She took care of all of our business while I was most incapacitated, and took great care of me. I am so fortunate to have her.
Another reason was my faith. I knew I was in God’s hands, and He was looking out for me. In fact, I actually believe all this time, when I was forced to pause my normal frantic busyness, was a very special gift God granted me.
You see, for years I have been writing a book. On top of working, painting, volunteering, and generally having an active life, I’ve taken time after work and on weekends to formulate an extended analysis of the culture: how we arrived at the artistic crisis of relevance we’re undergoing, and how it can be fixed. I’ve worked persistently, but progress was slow.
I recognized an opportunity in this sudden, unexpected illness. If I was going to be home bound for an extended period, I would use the time wisely. I would finish my book.
At first I tried to work on our laptop, but I couldn’t manage it. It was a terrible strain to try and read.
So we came up with alternative method. Last Christmas Michele gave me a little recorder so I could easily capture all the ideas I’m always having. While I couldn’t read and write, I could talk. I started dictating my book into the recorder.
Michele transcribed my thoughts into the computer.
Eventually I got well enough to be upright again. In honor of my improvements, I made a one eyed painting. I recreated the anesthesia visions of coral reefs I had during surgery, and added a tribute to my constant companion the bubble, which is such a crucial part of my healing process.
Richard Bledsoe “Reef” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″
But even more significantly, I finished the first draft of my book. It still needs review, revision, and formatting, but the content is there. We are self publishing, so we don’t have to jump through any hoops of publisher submissions or approvals. The completed work will be available in early 2018 on Amazon, and through other sources as well.
The book is Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization. I wrote this book for a general audience, not just the art scene.
Remodern America discusses what art is and why we need it. It explains why Modern art happened. It reveals the current destructive Postmodern culture, and the corrupt establishment that created it. Best of all, it describes Remodernism, the new ethos which will replace failed, deceitful Postmodernism.
I will continue to give updates on the publishing status here on this blog. Stay tuned!
As a sneak preview, the following is the introduction of Remodern America. It sets the stage for the contents of the book. Please spread the word. Enduring changes start in the arts, and a big change has already begun.
How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western
What is the spirit of this age?
History will recognize this as the era the general population of the United States realized the governing class and its connections, far from acting as responsible public servants, had mutated into an elitist ruling class.
These elitists decided amongst themselves that, due to their superior intellects, credentials, and social status, they deserved to control how everybody else lived their lives. This mission of conquest was camouflaged with egalitarian rhetoric.
In exchange for the burden of managing their inferiors, this New Class exempted themselves from the expectations they imposed on others. Those underlings who supported the ascendancy of these would-be rulers received some special considerations as well, a semi-privileged status-but their greatest reward was to bask in the reflected glory of their masters.
The elitists had a plan, and it almost worked. Over decades, the institutions that sustained American culture have been infiltrated, their missions transformed.
Government, media, education, the arts-the occupying elitists within dedicated all resources towards undermining sustaining Western values, all to better serve the consolidation of unaccountable power. They used their influence over the various means of cultural communication and expression to exert pressure at all levels of society to embrace collectivist goals, distorting the concept of equality.
As part of these maneuvers, art was pushed into a crisis of relevance. Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected block access to powerful resources. They deny our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result, the mass audience has turned away.
People instinctually reject the superficial and nihilistic contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class. We currently call this covert corrosion inflicted on the foundations of Western civilization the Postmodern era.
A small sect usurped disproportionate power over the course of the entire nation. Now the terrible results of the corrupted establishment’s agenda are clear. Under their reign we are less prosperous, less safe, less free.
The elitists ran out of credibility and resources before their work was complete. Now we, the people, must to make sure they run out of time as well. The dominion of the deceitful despots must be demolished throughout the culture, on all fronts. Around the globe challenges are rising against the longstanding world order. The story of the 21st Century will be the dismantling of centralized power.
As always, this course of history was prophesized by artists-those who are intuitively aware of the path unfolding ahead. Their works become maps so that others may find the way. The new directives emerging in our culture must be acknowledged. Enduring changes start in the arts.
The entrenched interests are desperate to deny the uprising, but denial won’t stop us. The Postmodern era is finished, but it won’t go quietly. The vast project of reconstruction will commence as we dislodge the failed status quo.
What is the spirit of this age?
This is an era of joyous insurgency and new beginnings.
Welcome to Remodern America.
Richard and Michele Bledsoe
UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.