BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 


“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:


I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.



PAINTINGS: The Collective

The Collective

Richard Bledsoe “The Collective” acrylic on canvas 30″ x 30″

Our society is having undead issues.

Zombies are all the rage right now, along with vampires. The vampire approach tries to make it seem all sexy and brooding, but only melodramatic teenage girls fall for that delusion.

From zombie movies to hit TV shows to zombie-themed walks, marathons, and proms, people are gathering to drool over rituals of cannibalism and decay. What does it say about the direction of our world that this is our version of entertainment?

There’s something more at work here than just some harmless hipster/geek trend. This kind of seepage into lite pop culture of such nihilistic decadence signals the death throes of the Post Modern era. The New Aristocracy of the Well Connected, who have used relativism as a shield for their presumptions and privileges, have been effective in whipping up mindless followers to enforce their will.  Just look at Facebook for 3 minutes, and the manipulations are clear. The remaining humans-free thinking people-are up against partisans would prefer to see civilization collapse rather than lose their grip on power.

The Zombie archetype is a manifestation of the state of soullessness that has been inflicted on our culture.The zombie horde is an accurate depiction of the consequences that come from the systematic denial of the spirit. Humanity is reduced to a rampaging, rotting mob, trying to hunt down, tear apart and devour those who are not part of the swarm.

Fortunately, the soul is stronger than anything this world can throw against it.

Remodernism stands for what endures:

“Remodernism embodies spiritual depth and meaning and brings to an end an age of scientific materialism, nihilism and spiritual bankruptcy.”

ART QUOTES: Ivan Albright


Ivan Albright “Captain Joseph Medill Patterson”


“A painting should be a piece of philosophy-or why do it?”

-Ivan Albright

He painted reality with such intensity it became hallucinatory. His obsessive details, painstakingly methodical methods, and preoccupations with darkness and decay led to a low output of paintings and a small audience of admirers. But Ivan Albright (1897-1983) was a true American original, a visionary painter of the uneasy melding of body and spirit in our fallen world.

He saw horrors first hand as a medical illustrator during World War One. He spent the rest of his life seeking to perfect his skills, always striving to bring greater focus and forceful presence to his paintings.

He had a brush with Hollywood fame, rendering a ghoulish Technicolor monster for the climax  of Oscar award winning film “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945).



But mostly Albright worked on his own private concerns, using a palette the color of bruises, ashes, and mold, with imagery that was resolved with almost microscopic intensity.


Ivan Albright “Woman”


Joe Coleman "Albert Fish"
Joe Coleman “Albert Fish”

Contemporary artists like Joe Coleman may strive to follow in the master’s traditions, but they always straddle the finely rendered line between homage and mere imitiation.


In addition to creating stunning paintings, Albright contributed his own taciturn kind of wisdom to art and life. The consistency of his ideas make sense alongside his paintings. His quotes have the same kind of deadpan existential fascination as his visual creations.


“Actually one place is just as good as another for me. Traveling around the world wouldn’t move me any more than sitting right here in my studio. It’s the meaning that you bring to your painting that’s important. Nature herself can only go as far as your mind can bring it.”


“The artist must be the human reservoir for all emotions, all thoughts, all kindness, cruelty, pain, joy.”


“Paint the dancing sun beams – in this case shadow beams – all is a unit – all is one… The bit of universe is repeating itself and moving in a circle… the universe within your studio walls… Study it, penetrate it… painting it as a ball of motion. Everything is included in it. Its motion includes time, also life and death. In its movement it’s on its way to eternity.”

-Ivan Albright


Ivan Albright “Poor Room-There is No Time, No End, No Today, No Yesterday, No Tomorrow, Only the Forever, and Forever and Forever Without End”



Ivan Albright “Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida”



Ivan Albright “Self Portrait Smoking” 

EXPLOITS: Artist Bill Lewis and the Cosmic Unconsciousness


Remodernist Painter and Poet Bill Lewis at a recent exhibit in the UK

But where does imagination end and reality begin?

-Dr Julian Karswell                                                    

Carl Jung was a visionary psychiatrist who understood religion, spirituality and mysticism as key elements of the human experience. In his work he developed the concept of synchronicity, the significant coincidence. It’s when things happen that seem meaningfully related, but which happen without any apparent cause. For Jung it was a demonstration of the collective unconscious in operation, a universal awareness that everyone shares. In my life experiences synchronicity is a common phenomenon.

I recently experienced an amazing moment of synchronicity. It involved artist and poet Bill Lewis. Bill is one of the original  British Stuckist artists, having been part of the seminal Medway Poets group even before the art movement began. Bill Lewis has continued his work as a Remodernist artist, and as I got involved with the international movement, I made his acquaintance through Facebook of all things. Since then we’ve exchanged books and our thoughts of the mysteries of art and life. It’s one of the wonders of this age, how we can connect with interesting people half a world away.


Reading “The Book of Misplaced But Imperishable Names” by Bill Lewis at a Phoenix AZ poetry event


Bill Lewis with The Secret Kingdom

Bill has had many intense moments of synchronicity, so his role in my recent experience is no surprise. One evening just before Christmas I was coming home from work, driving down a short cut through the alley behind our house, when one of the neighborhood feral cats ran in front of my car.

The cat was far ahead of me, it was in no peril. In the dark twilight all I saw was the indistinct bobbing of its mostly white body. The sight reminded me of a creepy passage from an old favorite story of mine, “Casting the Runes,” by M. R. James.

At the beginning of the story an evil warlock puts on a magic lantern show that traumatizes the local children. The images included “a horrible hopping creature in white.” The glimpse of the cat in motion triggered a memory of that description, although I haven’t read the story in ages.

When I got home moments later there was a package waiting for me that had arrived that day in the mail. It was an unexpected Christmas gift from Bill Lewis. I couldn’t wait until Xmas, I tore right into it. It was a DVD of the classic British horror movie, “Night of the Demon,” and the recut American version “Curse of the Demon.” This film is based on the story “Casting the Runes” by M. R. James.


I was so moved by this experience I ended up creating a painting about it, featured in the current exhibit “BOOKED: Contemporary Literary Art.”


Richard Bledsoe “A Horrible Hopping Creature in White” acrylic on canvas 16″ x 20″

The connotations of this event are very interesting to me. A key plot point of the story is how the attention of paranormal forces get passed along by means of a rune inscribed slip of paper delivered to an unsuspecting recipient. In an interview, Bill Lewis describes inspiration being passed along like a virus between carriers. I see a connection  in these models.

I don’t see the demonic content of this particular transmittal as an ominous thing. If anything, it’s a cautionary example, a call to examine my own motivations and actions.  The warlock in the story and movie abused his knowledge selfishly, evoking energy in an effort to build his own power, and he was destroyed by it. In this unexpected and meaningful gift, I saw not a demon, but a demonstration of wisdom. Thank you Bill!