All Images Copyright of James Mellick
The Art of James Mellick: Balls in a Box
Boules dans une Boite (Balls in a Box), 2003
Private Collection, Parkersburg, WV
22" x 12" x 8"; spalted birch, aniline dye, copper
Writing 2003 copyright Jame Mellick
This piece was completed almost as quickly as the war to liberate Iraq (or as the French would say "to take our oil and get rid of our favorite business partner"). It was done with a very different attitude and manner out of character with my style and is probably as close to Folk Art as I get.
The obviously androgynous, begging French poodle with a European style cut could have been named "Vichy" or "Jacques" or "Rococo" or maybe "Alexis De Tocqueville" who was somewhat of a 19th Century elitist regarding the application of democracy. In the community of artists I've learned that it is OK to be political as long as one has the "correct" view, so I have to be United Nations-like in my obviation.
Many Europeans love to despise the Americans right now but no offense is intended to my friends of French descent. I first exhibited "Balls in a Box" at a university faculty show and a well traveled colleague remarked "Well, I guess we know which side of the war you are on". Not really. I have mixed feelings about the Iraq war. I just look at events from a historical perspective and I am a patriot which puts me in a small minority as an artist. I have less tolerance for Americans whose ancestors came to America to escape tyranny, oppression, class distinctions and make better lives for themselves and yet their descendents, who have benefited from the freedom and wealth, have little good to say about their country and are more concerned about what the Europeans think of America.
Once upon a time there were two countries, one of Ballerinas and one of Cowboys. Old World Ballerina Land was culturally superior and the people had so much time on their hands that they could find ways to cook and eat bats and snails, create impressions of great art, drink wine at little outdoor cafes and become great lovers. Cowboy Land was settled by rugged individualists from many countries, including Ballerina Land, who wanted to get away from the monarchies and tyrannies of Europe. The Cowboys ate red meat on the grill, created functional art, etch-o-sketch and Hummel figurines. They drank beer in bars and cars and made love when they could work it into their busy schedule.
On more than one occasion, when Ballerina Land was overrun by their neighbor Hunland, the Cowboys returned to the Old World to liberate the Ballerinas and rebuild Ballerina Land. In the following years the industrious Cowboy Land grew into a mighty nation. Ballerina Land and Hunland soon became jealous of the power and influence of the Cowboys and decided to create a new alliance called "Euro Land" that would rival the power of Cowboy Land.
Then one day an evil person, almost as wicked as the former dictator of Hunland rose to power in Oil Land. He ruled by fear for many years, torturing, gassing and maiming his own people and soon became a threat to his neighbors and the security of the Cowboys. The Cowboys wanted to get rid of the evil man but Euro Land was getting a lot of money from the evil man and had a foggy or impressionistic understanding of "good" and "evil" while the Cowboys thought in the hard-edge contours of "black and white". The Ballerinas did everything they could to make sure the Cowboys would have to act alone in the freeing the people of Oil Land.
The Cowboys sent in a mechanized posse to round up the Butcher of Baghdad and his friends. The people of Oil Land soon rejoiced and danced in the streets. In the meantime, the Ballerinas gave passports to many of the evil man's friends to come to Ballerina Land so they could torture and terrorize some other day.
When the Ballerinas sent General Lafayette to help free the Cowboys in 1777, the Cowboys sent General Eisenhower to free the Ballerinas from the Butcher of Berlin one hundred and sixty-seven years later. The Ballerinas rejoiced and danced in the streets. Since then, too much wine, women and song has robbed them of their memory. End of Story.