Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Pessimism of I.M. Beaton
All righty then, this may take some 'splainin', so bear with me...My grandmother was a Rosicrusian who would tell anybody who would listen that, "when she went, she wanted her ashes spread in her garden." As a precocious child I figured I could untangle this riddle. A Rosicrucian must be some kinda gardener specializing in roses. But where was she going and what did "ashes" have to do with anything? If I'm a nut case its partly her fault, I'm pretty sure. Her husband was a newspaper editor for the old Vancouver Times and a an amateur painter. He checked out the week I was born. All through my childhood I looked at two muddy oil paintings that hung above the chesterfield in Granny's livingroom.
My brothers used to ask our dad to draw stuff to illustrate the stories he would cook up for us kids. He couldn't draw worth a lick but he gave it a shot. My brothers were always impressed, but I would look at the drawings and shake my head, the ol' man would grin and that was that. When I would draw something he would show his poker buddies and generally advertise the productions of his oldest kid. Well he packed it in too, leaving the whole outfit shy of male influence. As luck would have it, my grandmother had a brother. In retrospect my great uncle was prolly a full blown loon, that no responsible parent now would let a kid anywhere near. But times were different and I was shipped off to see visit the iconoclastic recluse (that may be redundant, but you get the idea) for weeks at a time during the summer. I would be about ten and his shack was in the interior and it was hot and magical and I learned a lot of stuff that I maybe shouldn't have.
I called him, "Gunk"..a contraction of great uncle. Thing is, the ol boy was sort of a patron of the arts and a polymath and encouraged me to draw and paint. He was an incurable contrarian and encouraged me to question everything as a matter of principle. He had (wait for it, you can see it coming) wrecked cars and junk and told me what they were and how they got to his yard. I loved the idea of the junkers and the designs, colours and history...I was hooked.Gunk sent me supplies, books and encouragement until he joined the rest of the crowd up above (I hope). He lived to see my first big junkyard painting and was over the moon about the whole production, somebody else saw what he saw...beautiful junk.
Gunk's real name was Ian Marshall Beaton. An appropriate name for a natural "bad attituder" who didn't see any real future for mankind, yet whose bright light shone on his grand nephew (or whatever I was).