the brush stroke fall 2021
Respect the Living, Honor the Dead
This painting has two stories combined. The first being a colorful Dia de Los Muertos celebration.
I took the popular 1909 Rider Waite tarot death card and redid it from the medieval European perspective to that of a Mexican festive one. The original card itself is dark, ominous with frightened and dead figures. To replace the death knight, I incorporated the Sante Muerte along with some of her symbols. The Scorpion represents the western astrological sign, Scorpio which rules birth, death and regeneration. Day of the Dead falls within the sign’s calendar dates. I like working with the mixing of paint and that of the cultures.
The second story is why I chose to use the Sonoran Desert Toad as the characters in the painting.
I wanted this piece to be a statement regarding the plight of this toad which is being poached for its hallucinogenic psychedelic properties. This has been around since the 60’s with the infamous toad licking which was mostly on the fringe. Currently the toxin gathered from the glands are smoked for the half hour high and has become more popular and mainstream. While this extract, 5 MeO DMT, can be extremely dangerous and possibly deadly for humans, it is a stressful extraction, harmful and most likely a death sentence for the toads. Expensive “enlightenment” parties from resort areas like Tulum, Mexico to Malibu and New York City are one of the reasons the toads are being poached. This toad has not been seen in California since the 1970’s and presumed extinct there. They is also found in Sonora Mexico and its numbers are declining there. It is also found in small areas of New Mexico and the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Poaching is reducing the numbers in Arizona according to Arizona Game and Fish Dept and the Tucson Herpetological Society. People are getting high at the expense of another living being. I wanted to make people aware of this poaching as it occurs mostly at night and during the monsoon when the toads are mating and active. Poaching occurs on private as well as public land. Death is inevitable to us all, however the toads are facing an unnecessary death for the sake of people getting a short term high.
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