I am sorry that I don't have a better image of this piece--it is another one that I sold long ago. I haven't seen this painting in years, and its owner told me that it has been damaged. The central image was inspired by Joseph Campbell's book, "The Masks of God: Vol. I Primitive Mythology". There was a section where he talked about early Bear Cults, and told of a tribe of Caucasian peoples who lived in the mountains of Japan, called the Ainu--who revered bears. Campbell related that the men of the village would capture a bear cub and bring it back to the community, where the women would breast feed the cub and the whole village would treat the animal as a god for a about a year. At the end of the prescribed period, there would be a big celebration during which the bear would be sacrificed.
This story was so compelling to me (and of course Joseph Campbell was a fabulous storyteller)--that I had to depict this image--one of many that came to me as I read the book.
The small image in the upper section of the painting is a blue horse in a pink and yellow canyon--an image that literally appeared to me as I walked my dog around the City College campus late one night. Initially, I wasn't sure where this blue horse image came from---until I remembered the story I had written and illustrated in the first grade entitled "The Blue Horse That Cried". It was a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer kind of story--nobody liked the Blue Horse because he was different. In the story, he performs some heroic act, and then is celebrated by his peers. So the arrival of this image was like a link to my past, and was initiated, (I believe), by the work I was doing in Tamara Diaghilev's class at that time, where we were doing guided meditations and clearing out our chakras. I have mentioned Tamara in a previous blog post--much of what I have been able to accomplish with my artwork is a direct result of her teachings, guidance and inspiration. Thank you Tamara!!!