The West is the Best: Van Vliet and Westermann

in art •  last year

Cardboard Cutout Sundown

You hardly know a day goes by
in the cardboard cutout sundown
the moon popped up like a gallery duck
sipped up gold from the sunny cup
and longhorns sawed the buggy grass
and a cowboy blew a harp sitting on his chapped ass
and the prairie flowers didn’t look a bit queer
and the stars struck the sand cartwheeled
and poked in the prairie
popeyhcwestermann.jpg
a cactus juice stand the only place
the crows couldn’t land
the bluebottle flies were as big
as a cowboy’s eyes
and their buzz was as loud as rattlers
a fire engine red whistle blows raspberries
in a cloud of whipped steam
a tumble weed ran out black patent yarn stinkbug hoops
from above a living mail thriving dot
in perfect sympathy
with the cardboard cutout sundown
you hardly know a day goes by
in the cardboard cutout sundown
(Don van Vliet, 1982)

westermanngreenriver.jpeg

Psychedelic desert funk and flash, Beefheart and Westermann are channeling the same ecstatic adventurous spirit voodoo. What I love about these guys is their humor .. Beefheart's lyric/poetry suggests some desert plain like a backlot of Hollywood gone to seed. The sun never stops going down but its all just a cardboard cutout anyway. All the world's a stage and we are merely players. Westermann's work shares that vibe, its cartoony but packs a punch like Popeye punching a cactus, the whole thing is absurd. I don't know his work that well but these artists have a strong dare-I-say American vitality. Having lived for 17 years as an expat now, I am looking at American art through a telescope. I can see those lazy flea-bitten mutts wandering between the cactii and the tumbleweeds. The West is the best, get here we'll do the rest. I could have moved to California but I moved to Prague instead. WTF, Batman. My work needs more humor .. I've been dreaming of escape, but we carry our problems with us. You can keep running but you end up in the same place with the same old suitcase. Try to change yourself. It's better and cheaper in the end. Kemo sabe.

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Great post!
Thanks for tasting the eden!

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