Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Cost Of Freedom

If you've been reading my blog long enough, you know how I feel about war. Yesterday, I gave a dollar to a vet and got my poppy, I was out with a friend of mine who's still "active" and crazy enough to be disappointed he's not going to Afghanistan. A lot of guys are disappointed according to Sean. It seems some guys re-enlisted purposely to go to Afghanistan, because you get a bonus of some sort and according to Sean, they are stuck in the army without a war to go to, for years. Something tells me they won't be unoccupied for long.
I was thinking about Memorial Day and Jasper Johns popped into my head and his flag paintings.
Jasper Johns served in the Korean War and was stationed in Japan. He received the Medal Of Freedom from President Obama. Johns is really interesting on so many levels. He's an artist and a gay man, who had a long term relationship with Robert Rauschenberg, another famous abstract expressionist. With all the furor about  DADT. (thank God that's over) I wonder about his military service? Being gay and being in the military in the 1950's seems like a pretty scary proposition. I am guessing that he didn't tell.
Johns flag paintings were inspired by a dream. I also have made work based on my dreams.
 I write them all down in a journal. I wonder if he does that?
White Flag, 1955
This flag is like a ghost flag to me. Let's see, what was going on in 1955? Well it was the McCarthy era, McCarthyism was is " the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence." Sounds like a bunch of "birthers" to me. We don't know for sure if the White Flag was used as a symbol for the U.S. under McCarthyism or the Vietnam War. A white flag can mean surrender. That's what I like about art, it's what the viewer brings to the image. 

Three Flags
Jasper Johns was named after a Revolutionary War hero Sergeant William Jasper, who raised a flag during a battle. Some art critics think that might be why Johns chose the flag to paint. 
 Whatever his reason was, I like his work (in art school you aren't allowed to say that without giving a reason why, so here goes) I think it's both evocative and provocative. It's didactic.
Flags are everywhere, they are used in public spaces and privately. 

I think this is the saddest use of a flag. At a funeral of a soldier. 
Memorial Day, used to be called Decoration Day and started after the Civil War.
Here's a cool version of "Find The Cost Of Freedom" with Crosby, Nash and Dave Gilmour.
I'd like to thank my friend Seanie and a shout out to Sarge and all the soldiers who serve.
Have a peaceful Memorial Day.


  1. Pat,
    Good post.
    Understand Sean a bit; soldiers are trained to fight wars and garrison duty in the US isn't fighting wars. I was an air traffic controller -
    I wanted busy and challenging airbases - Got my cheery broke at U-Tapao AB Thailand the day that Saigon was captured. That day, I really learned what air traffic control was all about!
    I spent a year at Osan AB just south of Seoul -
    busiest, most complex, radar approach control facility in the world.
    Sean seeks the same thing. Good news is that we are getting out of the "stan" and maybe he won't come home in a body bag.But, rest assured -there is something else on the horizon.

    Girl, the beast is always hungry....


    Master Sergeant Ron Axley

  2. Sarge, you always amaze me. Hope you're enjoying the weekend.

  3. Patricia, that's the best version of "Find the Cost of Freedom" ever recorded. Thanks!!!