Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Occupations You'll Never See In Romance Novels

A continuing saga.

Wayne Gilbert, a Houston artist, got one of his best ideas while humming along the highway. One day in the late '90s, there he was surrounded by people in cars, going absolutely nowhere, when an idea hit him like a thunderbolt.

"I was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between what is human about art and what art is about humans," Gilbert said. "And it hit me that I could show that by using human remains (ashes) in my paintings."

Sound like a macabre episode out of Six Feet Under? Not quite, although Gilbert admits that many people find the idea a little off-putting.

"The vast majority start out saying, `Oooh'," he said. "Then they open up to it."

He tells visitors to his 5,000-square-foot home and studio in the Heights that the ashes he uses are all unclaimed from funeral homes -- several as long as 25 years.

"I got the feeling that some of them might have ended up in the trash," he said. "It took me six months of asking, working and phone calls before people would listen to the idea, because I was very up front. I don't feel disrespectful about it; quite the opposite, I feel very respectful."

Gilbert has produced about 50 pieces using human remains. At first the ashes were mixed with color, but now he just mixes them with a high-quality clear resin gel that he refers to as his palette. Everyone, he says, makes a different color.

Too bad there's not another way to get this information. I think I'm yellow. What about you?



Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

My first though waw ewwww but after I looked at his art I changed my mind. It is definitely different but compelling. No, I wouldn't hang it on my walls nor would I buy it.

I think I'm blue but maybe I've got Picasso on the brain.

September 11, 2007 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Okay, first sentence. My fingers got ahead of my brain and I typed was as waw! And I'm the one who castigates other people for not editing their material. Twenty lashes with the velvet flogger.

September 11, 2007 3:40 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

It is compelling, isn't it? What continues to amaze me since I read this is that people really do have colors! All these years those Mary Kay gals and their color wheels have been right.

I'm sure there's a boring scientific explanation for it that has to do with the metals and minerals in a body at the time of cremation (probably the heat level too) but dammit, I just love it that we're all unique -- even when we're dirt.

*getting out the velvet flogger*

September 11, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Renee' said...


"That is an interesting piece of artwork you have there" the guest says to my son
"Oh that, that is my dad" says my oldest and most spoiled child
"Hmmm, must be some kind of interpretation piece as it doesn't look like your dad" guest says with a confused look.
"No, I mean that is really my dad, do you have any idea of how much funerals are these days. And besides the new PSII game just came out along with a really sweet pair of sneakers I have been wanting" Way too spoiled son says to guest.
"What did your mom have to say about this" guest says with astonishment in his voice.
"I don't see much of mom these days. They only allow visits once a month and all she does is bitch about the orange jump suit she has to wear. I just make sure to let her know that I had the artist leave room on the canvas so she and dad can be mingled together forever. That keeps her real quiet!" Spoiled son who is now out of my will said.

Moral:, NEVER tell my son about this clever way to deal with the ever-after. And, hubby will have a long, long life because I hate orange!


September 12, 2007 1:37 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

No, I mean that is really my dad


September 12, 2007 5:14 AM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Oh God Renee, that was hilarious. I'm cleaning coffee off my monitor.

September 12, 2007 3:21 PM  

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