Below is the beginning phase of a painting my dad was working on a couple years ago. I wish I could post a more complete version of it, but he ended up painting over it for some reason. I might commission him to do another. My mom and dad live in northern Texas just on the border of Oklahoma whose new state motto must be “We Hit on Soft 17.” In this rural area within a several mile radius there are three casinos. Adults are adults, but there are some parts of the country where the residents that have either stayed behind or been left behind can’t handle the allure of the quick buck action that the casino offers. Yet on their backs casinos are sold as the source of new jobs, and lotteries across the country are advertised for the money they generate for state education.
When further along, this painting showed the old woman with the overlapping belly hooked up to a machine sitting beside her that looked like an oxygen tank. It could have functioned as that because most Indian casinos do still allow smoking, and they make a lot of money selling tax free cigs. But a cord from her life machine extended into the slot. The imagery is simple: points accrued from slots and the action of gambling is the oxygen – the life – feeding this woman and, thereby, many of the people who visit these casinos.
Even though he’s done some gambling there himself, I can picture my dad in the casino scoffing at these obese, diabetic, skeletal, haggard, toothless patrons. For what it’s worth, he was complaining about People of Walmart way before it turned into a website. His favorite topic of discussion there for a while was the girth of Wal Mart shoppers. He couldn’t understand how the size of people in the area had flipped so dramatically from the time he showed up in the States (1975) to today. And like many fathers or middle-aged men in general, he’s always eschewed advertising and corporations in general. I disregarded his dinner table rants because of my dad’s lack of formal education, but I’ve begun to see that he may have been on to something.