This email from Robert Genn was sent to me on December 18, 2012. I have copied it for your perusal with his personal permission. His twice-weekly e-mail letters are always informative and insightful.
Dear Gail,

I’ve always been fond of brushes. Traditional tools going back to primitive times, for the past five hundred years or so, brushes have more or less standardized into a classic form; gently lathed, finely finished, long-handled and short, balanced for holding in various ways and points of view. Brushes come easily to men’s hands as well as those of women and children. In all shapes and sizes, their soft parts help to describe the personalities of those who use them.

Even in the hands of madmen, brushes can do little immediate harm. But, like pens and pencils, they have the potential to be mightier than swords. Every time we pick one up we reinstate our membership in a great brotherhood and sisterhood.

From the first Stone Age flint or adz, man distinguished himself as the most creative and inventive of the tool-making animals. The axe, the shovel, the ploughshare, the book, the brush, the cello, the scalpel, and the CT scan evolved to serve purposes that could not always be visualized by the generations before. Tools within tools within tools now take us across skies and straight up into space so we can look back at the gift of our mother earth. Is there no limit to mankind’s ability to create tools? And do we not have a choice which tools we will use?

Our accumulated culture and the breadth of our character determine the tools we use. The camera tool and its various iterations, for example, permit the re-enactment of lethal confrontations, the depiction of imagined evils and the greatest depths of fear. The camera tool can visualize for us the solving of problems by both violence and gentility. Whole industries glorify the use of our tools, and just cleaning our tools can give some of us a thrill.

Future anthropologists, arriving from another planet, may dig in our middens and determine we were “The People of the Gun.” A brilliantly conceived tool, the gun has evolved to reach a remarkable range and power. Plain or sophisticated, outsized or miniaturized, concealed or openly brandished, apart from its legitimate use for shooting pop cans off fences, the gun has always been a tool for taking the lives of other beings.

Understanding how it is possible to fall in love with our tools, it’s time we study how this gun tool is now out of hand. Do we not need to rethink its value and its presence among us? Can we outgrow the gun?

Best regards,

Robert (This is Robert’s website. You can subscribe to his letters here.)

PS: “We must all work to make this world worthy of its children.” (Pablo Casals)

Esoterica: In the time it takes to paint a small picture, someone, somewhere, will lose his or her life to a gun. Like mental illness and fanaticism, gun ownership is worldwide. And wherever home ownership of guns is highest, gun deaths are also the highest. Let us return to our gentle tools. To brushes and violins, to cellos and palettes. If mankind has a destiny, it should be for greater things than guns.

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Did you have a relative that was on the Titanic? Who do you know that was booked on the Titanic? A great, great aunt, uncle, grandparent? This is the Titanic famous fables year of remembrance.

Spirit of the Blythe Titanic 24x30 Oil by Gail Ingis Claus

In its innocence, the Titanic was cruising along not realizing it was about to change the lives of twenty-two hundred people.  It is one hundred years since the maiden voyage of the Titanic. What is magical about its one hundred years? The14th of April is the date, one hundred years ago, that it sunk. It sunk taking 1523 men, women and children and crew and everyone’s worldly goods with it. No one noticed the iceberg, no one heeded warnings from other ships, no one believed the Titanic could sink.

Only ten percent of an iceberg is above water. If you see six feet, then there is sixty more feet of iceberg beneath the water.

Iceberg above and below

By the time the captain of the Titanic discovered the iceberg, the ship was along side it as it ripped a gash in its hull. The ship’s engineers claimed the Titanic was unsinkable.  If a disaster  happened, it would be its own lifeboat. It was compartmentalized to contain any water so that most of the ship would be safe from filling with the sea water.

Some, 705 passengers, did escape the watery death, most of them women and children, who watched in horror from their lifeboats, as their husbands and fathers went down with the ship or languished in the Atlantic’s frigid waters until the freezing cold pulled the life from them or they got sucked down with the ship. Distress calls reached the Carpathia. But they were  four hours away. When they finally reached the  site, it was too late.

According to history, the sinking of this ship robbed the lives of folks who were lower on the pay scale than the wealthy, like those in steerage, restaurant workers, folks who were coming to the USA to find a better life. Since sinking ships know no class, the rich went down with the poor.

It is strange and newsworthy, the wealthy paid hefty sums for their cabins, according to the History Channel’s report on April 10th, sums of $90,000 for a cabin were not unusual.

Would you come to our Titanic Collaboration show?

We would love to have you. Come to Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum on Thursday, April 26, 5-7 P.M. The Titanic Collaboration Art Show will be opening for your viewing pleasure. Free. Please RSVP 203-838-9799 extension 4.


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