Digression: Tax Policy

With the Fiscal Cliff (yes, I’m pretty sick of that term, too) looming I want to get this idea out in the blog while it still might be relevant or at least entertaining.


If you question the wealth of the rich, folks will often say that they got there through “hard work.” Probably true.

But they are also lucky.

They might be lucky enough to be 6’8″ tall and athletic.

Lucky to interested in software programming instead of the craft of buggy whip manufacturing.

Blessed with smart caring parents instead of abusive slobs.

Or maybe they guessed right in the casino of the stock market.

Or maybe they have a high IQ.

Mainly it is being in the right place at the right time with the right ability (and I’m proposing that abilities are fundamentally based in luck).

Let’s check out the remuneration for simple “hard work.” The national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Let’s say minimum wage workers don’t work very hard (which of course we know is untrue, but for the sake of the argument).

Let’s say our rich person works a hundred times as hard (not possible, but for the argument). So they should make $725 per hour.

Now the minimum wage worker is working 40 hours per week (but may need more than one job to survive“…roughly one-third of the estimated 20,000 homeless people in Santa Clara County [the heart of Silicon Valley] had full-time jobs.” Richard Florida).

However the rich person works really hard, twice as long: 80 hours per week. 80 hours x $725 per hour = $58,000 per week for that extra hard, extra long work.

52 weeks x $58,000 = $3,016,000.

So, with this calculation, if one makes more than $3,016,000 per year it can’t be just through hard work — it is a result of luck.

Proposal: Any income above that point should be subject to a special “Lucky Tax” because it wasn’t gained through hard work, but through luck.

I am not begrudging luck, just saying that if we value hard work more we should tax it less — and tax luck more.


Rauschenberg Residency Postscript #2

About the paintings…

These paintings that I made during the Residency are the first “easel paintings” (that’s a category, didn’t use an easel) that I’ve done in 20 years. Given that many folks know my sculpture and installation work (look at the big weird object above!) and not my 2-D work, the question might be, “Why is he doing these old fashioned paintings????”


I’ve been doing work related to the new paintings for over 20 years. Here’s a piece, Constellation of Drawings (Memory), 1990, that’s at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

OHSU Constellation

And in the summer of 2011 I did a large wall painting in the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College in Portland as part of a group show.

L + C 3 views


This work was in a leftover space that resulted after a special room was constructed (to the right) for a video installation. When Linda Tesner, the gallery director, initially showed me the space she was very concerned about this odd space, but I thought it would be perfect, a space where I could try something akin to working in a chapel-like space like those I saw in Rome the previous year.

S Luigi Caravaggio

Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew, 1599-1600, in San Luigi dei Francesi, Contarelli Chapel.

I was not interested in the imagery for my work (obviously), just the challenge of the narrow U-shaped space.

While I was working on the mural, I thought it was kinda fun and maybe I should try painting on small panels as I liked the hard wall surface. I had grown tired of working on paper, not the paper itself, but the hassle of matting and framing, and the need for glass (and then you gotta store them and not break the glass). I tried canvas for large drawing/paintings 20 years ago, but stretching canvas is also a hassle and the canvas has no “resistance” (also a hassle to store safely). So, I thought about cutting up some 3/4″ ply and painting on that, and then procrastinated…

UNTIL I got the call inviting me to the Residency. I thought that would be the perfect place to get things going. I also found the panels (which you can get at Blick or Utrecht) and I got a lot more panels that I had planned for (see Wednesday November 29 post), a great thing. So that’s how the little paintings are both new and old and relate to my work.

Maybe I’ll do some more…BTW, I plan to show the color works at Nine Gallery in Portland in April…


Rauschenberg Residency Postscript #1

So what were we doing there?

Well, were were the first of five test groups who are having the “test run” or shakedown cruise (was that the boat trip?) to help those in charge figure out how this residency program is going to run when it gets going for real.

In the contract it said:

[Artist in Residence]  agrees to provide verbal and written feedback on the residency experience in the areas of facilities (housing, studios, equipment, amenities), overall residency philosophy (mixture of disciplines, emphasis on collaboration/interaction, facilitation of/contribution to artistic process), logistical issues (residency length, meals, amenities) and staff (communication, assistance, support). The assessments will take the form of verbal – personal conversations, informal/formal meetings, and written – immediately following the residency, and one year later. 

I just sent in my 10 page response to the Residency questionnaire yesterday. Gee, I hope the “one year later” is live feedback on site!

So, what is it going to be? Nobody knows yet…and that’s a good thing.


Another PS coming. Maybe tomorrow.


A final artwork

On Thursday I completed a new piece outdoors on the property.

Shadow PalmIn the Shadow of the Palm is an abstraction of the tree shadow made from sea shells. These shells are used here for pathway paving the way we use gravel back home. I must thank Matt Hall for the suggestion that I do a piece like this. He saw the work I made in the South Park Blocks Portland in 1984, In the Shadow of the Elm.

Shadow ELM

Matt said something like, “We could do something like that here. I’ve got tons of pit shell.” So on Wednesday and Thursday we went out and did it.


Saturday at noontime we leave the property, heading to the Ft. Myers airport. This blog will continue, but without the colorful birds, flowers and people I’ll miss from here.

The Gulf of Mexico, from the west side of the property…Sunset



Dogs seem to be important here. The first dog we met was Molly, Terri’s assistant.


Then we met Chico, who led the way to everything for Jack.


And Beauty, who hung out with Carrell.

DOG cb

And late in our stay, Matt brought Cassie to visit the studio.


One day I saw this stray dog hanging out by the pool.

Pool dog

Dogs are an essential part of the team here (Terri, Molly [who owns Terri], and Matt).

Molly gang


Got the small pieces all packed and ready for the post office.

Started a new piece that should be finished on Thursday, but I won’t post it ’til Friday.

We all went into Ft. Myers on Wednesday night for dinner at the home of a very nice couple who were friends of Bob’s and the had a lot of his work on the walls. Good conversation, yummy dinner.

Desert dinner

The Last Tuesday

Just a week ’til Xmas and 80 degrees—I know, not a big deal for those in the know, but I’m not in the know…

I decided yesterday that both of the sets of paintings are done and I started packing the foot-square ones into “If it fits it ships” USPS boxes that just happen to be exactly a foot square.Studio 12 17 12BTW, the post office is a five minute walk from here, and,  just like at home in Portland,  the Starbucks is about the equivalent of three blocks away. In the three weeks we’ve been here I think I’ve stepped outside the Rauschenberg Residency property about a half dozen times (always with a purpose like get the Sunday Times at SBux). This island of tranquility within the island is well sheltered from the “island life” flavor. The “resort” and strip mall next door just don’t have appeal. SS Resort

Every day I see this Rauschenberg piece between the studio steps and the pool.RR Pool pc View

The more I see it the more I like it. It is a bronze version of his Ancient Incident (Kabal American Zephyr) 1981. Doesn’t at all look like bronze.

RR detail b RR Detail a

First of all I enjoy the absurdity of the meeting of the chairs at the top where is would be impossible to sit face-to-face with no knee room. Then of course you have the “rickety” steps leading to the (mundane) chairs, but to the backs of the chairs, so you couldn’t comfortably take a seat event if there was knee room. It’s an elevated meeting place for the exalted, where it is impossible to meet, built as if Buster Keaton could have done it.


The Last Weekend

Next Saturday we all leave. Some have already left. Stephen left on Sunday, but on Saturday he had a little recording session at the pool with Yassi. She had already sung underwater for him awhile back. This time she manipulated a piece of sheet metal and then again did a little singing.

Stephen Yassi sheetmetalStephen Yassi underwater

On Sunday I thought all the paintings were done, but I set up a process to be sure. Below you see the setup for how it worked.

Hang a painting. Have some espresso (there’s a Nespresso machine in the studio’s kitchen!). Read. Glance at the painting. Work on the NY Times crossword. Get up and look closely at the painting. Decide it’s OK. Hang new painting. Repeat.

Studio 12 16 12

I did find one painting that needed work. I think I fixed it. I’ll decide on Monday morning.

Waldo Cottage at dusk Sunday:Waldo House