Friday, February 15, 2008



After the success of '1914', I decided that someday I would do a sequel. Here it is: '1944'. And yes, it is a shadowbox about World War II. There are a lot of references to events in here, of course, but mainly I wanted to create a box with an interesting twist.

At first glance, it looks like a nice box with flowers and pretty things. But looking closer, you see a sash around the centre lamb that reads 'Hitlerjugend' and the unsettling story unfolds from there. Anne Frank is on the left with a bittersweet quote from her diary: "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy." Anne was taken from her hiding spot in 1944.

In the right corner is a framed photo of Adele Bloch-Bauer, painted by Klimpt, which was looted by the Nazis in World War II. The three monkeys in front of Anne (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil) refer to how nations like the U.S. didn't believe the reports about the gassing going on in the concentration camps because the details seemed too extreme. The lamb represents the German children that were literally brainwashed and pressed into service for the Hitlerjugend, not knowing of the atrocities that the Nazis were committing. The native necklace represents the Navajo Code Talkers; the spool of thread speaks of the women left at home; the surgical instrument refers to the horrible medical experiments performed by Mengele; I hand-made a piece of barbed wire that's stretched across the front; the foot represents the soul and mourning and I wrote "sleep my pretty" on it (with the poppies, it represents another really scary thing- the Wicked Witch of the West); there's a map of the D-Day operations; and there are lots of propaganda posters throughout the box. And much, much more!

Finally, the buttons in the background. When the people were sent to the gas chambers, their clothes were placed in a huge pile. The clothes eventually rotted, but left behind were the buttons. You can see buttons in the dirt when you walk around Auschwitz.

It is amazing that the events of 1944 took place only 64 years ago.

the hole in the wall at the Retro Suites, at the bottom of the stairs

On a more upbeat note, this is a photo of a project I am now working on.

There is an indentation in the brick wall at the bottom of the staircase at the Retro Suites Hotel.

I have been asked to fill this hole with a shadowbox featuring items that were discovered in the renovation. So far I have a parole certificate, a steamy love letter from a woman ("If I can't have you, I might have to kill you"), a pearl-handled gun, and a matchbook that says 'Merrill Hotel'.

This is going to be a fun project...... can't you see it? It almost screams a Raymond Chandler approach- the hard-drinking gumshoe looking for a dame: "She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket."

We'll see what happens!