Gallery Artpost at Itty Bitty Lakes

Gallery Artpost at Itty Bitty Lakes
Our home, gallery and studios


My wife, partner and soul mate is Kay. Between us we have a rather large extended family that give our lives joy and purpose. My Mom Mary Lou Church, an activist in her own right often helps out with the gallery. My sister Dr. Cindy Parker and brother in law Dr. Steve Shapiro live and work in Baltimore but spend as much time as they can with us at Itty Bitty Lakes. They are constantly making our lives fuller. Kay has three and I have one active and one inactive wonderful children. Between us we have eight active and two inactive grandchildren ranging in age from two to almost sixteen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Once I had proven to Denver Health Medical Center that I indeed had been able to acquire health insurance there were several more glitches, like the time I had been given a few days of rest at a beautiful cabin on Grand Lake by friends and family to help with the stress of having fought for over five months to save my life and Denver Health Medical Center Administrative staff called and told me no surgery would take place unless I coughed up $8,950.00 when I arrived at the hospital the next day. The actual amount was supposed to be $5,950.00, but it took most of the day of making call, after call, after call, after call, to get the insurance company to realize that there would be no surgery until they proved to the administrative staff at DHMC the amount demanded was $3,000.00 too much.  Boy was I relieved of stress after that day in paradise!

As I write about Denver Health Medical Center I am discussing two seemingly different entities. First there is the Administrative Offices that include the doctor whose sole job is to refuse service to sick and dieing people, then there are the high level administrators who first agree to pricing for surgeries only to change their minds and delegate some poor employee to call sick people and tell them the hospital will not treat them, on down to the many employees who’s job it is to get as much money as they can however they can from patients and hopefully soon to be patients.  It seems to be the over-riding job description for all of these people to get money, reduce expenses and to seriously not care about the human conditions they are dealing with. Now I say this is their job. This does not mean that personally they don’t care. When asked their personal opinions, one would find they care very much.

As an example of this personal compassion I want to tell you about two Administrative Directors who were charged with literally kicking me out of the hospital after higher ups had changed their mind about accepting my cash for surgery, even after a verbal contract had been reached , mutually agreed to and the written contract had been printed. They did their job politely and firmly and indeed Kay and I were given the boot.  Months later when I finally was about to be operated on, these same two administrators found I was getting my life saving surgery. They dropped what they were doing, hiked across the sprawling hospital campus, located me in pre-op and came up to wish me the best and tell me how excited they were I had finally found a way in. Sitting in a hospital gown with Kay at my side, hooked up to an IV and seriously scared, it meant a huge amount to me to see and hear these two people I had not thought well of for several months gushing about how happy they were for me. It was only then I realized the system was separate from the people who are forced to administer the system.

The other entity that is Denver Health Medical Center could not be more opposite in its attitude and its mission.  Here again are some quotes from the DHMC website:

Welcome to Denver Health.  Denver Health is Colorado's primary “safety net” institution, providing billions of care for the uninsured.”

“Provide access to the highest quality health care, whether for prevention, or acute and chronic diseases regardless of ability to pay;
Provide life-saving emergency medicine and trauma services to Denver and the Rocky Mountain region; “
“Giving Level One Care For All”
So for five months I did not believe much if any of the above, but then I became a patient and it all changed.

Why did I fight so hard to be accepted by a hospital that did not want to treat me, you ask? Simple---Dr, Fernando Kim. Not only is his resume’ awesome, and he has the ability and experience to execute the delicate, and not often performed surgery called Cryo-ablation- he called me back.
Remember how I wrote earlier that Dr. Kim had taken a personal interest in my case. That personal interest, his obvious razor sharp intellect and his attitude that I categorize as being that of an artist were the reasons I fought so hard to be accepted at DHMC. If I was ever going to live through this I had to have a surgeon who looked on his craft as an art and cared about whether I lived or died.
I say Cryo-ablation is not often performed. Well how can that be? Along with fighting to be accepted by DHMC I hedged my bets and went after every other doctor who I could conceivably find who would do the surgery. For affordability we contacted five different medical tourism companies, told them what we were looking for and waited. Cindy took on three and Kay and I followed the other two. One company is owned by a close friend of a close friend so they took the search personally. We looked in Central and South America, Indonesia, Spain and India. A couple of times we thought we were getting close but in the end no one would approach the problem with the same logical brilliance as Dr. Kim. We looked close by and found one urologist who said he did Cryo- but was so flippant and unfocused, as well as refusing to remove my lymph nodes, that I would not recommend him to wash my car.
So there I was – in pre-op with Kay, both of us looking scared, brave, lost, yet determined with friendly and competent staff all around us when an anesthesiologist arrives to give me a little something to smooth out the wrinkles---lights out for me.
Dr. Kim and his surgical team froze my prostate using probes that remind me of knitting needles. They are hollow and hooked up to argon. The argon is inserted as small ice balls through out the prostate. These are 40 degrees below zero. Warm water was kept flowing through my urethra. The team was very aggressive and had no intention of leaving any cancer alive. They worked all around the prostate and included the outside of the organ. They froze the neurovascular bundles that help create erections. I was warned this was going to happen. It was believed the cancer was in the bundles too. This means my days of sexual enthusiasm are over for the short term and if I am lucky will slowly re-grow - maybe. There will be things like Viagra I will be able to take in the future that will also help.  (a little aside for you guys out there – Remember being a sex stud is not particularly important if you are dead.)  The entire freezing process was then repeated, making it very unlikely cancer cells remained.

The next procedure (all accomplished in the one operation) was to laproscopically remove the lymph nodes that surround my prostate. I think they found thirteen of the little guys, cut them out and sent them to a lab to be biopsied.  There were five holes in my abdomen for cameras and surgical tools and one extra added that housed a tube coming directly from my bladder. This was cool, as it had a little nozzle on the end. As I healed I would still be able to write my name in the snow while giving my penis time to heal at its own speed.

As I came out of the operation there were some complications getting control of the pain. It seems that even under anesthesia I am a pain wimp. Once they got that under control I was taken to recovery and then to a room. Dr. Kim came out and gave Kay who was a little stressed a big hug. She thanked him for saving my life, but he said, “Don’t thank me yet. In five years, then you can thank me.”

It was a long night for us. The hospital room was superb. I had my own room and it included a little alcove with a couch/bed for Kay. As I was being transferred from gurney to bed a nurse inquired as to who Kay was and how was she, "related to the patient?" I was barely conscious enough to mutter, “She’s my out of work sex goddess.” before drifting back off.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


On July first the first positive action for the 2010 health care reform bill came online. The website designed for the purpose of informing the public was sent to me and it told me I could now get insurance through the governments’ new pre-existing condition insurance called GettingUsCovered.

Federal funding for the program is being administered by Rocky Mountain Health Plans. “RMHP is an independent, not-for-profit health benefits provider that has served the health care needs of Coloradans for more than 30 years.”  According to  the RMHP website.  I had until August 15th to apply and get accepted if I wanted surgery close to September 1st. When the opportunity first came out I was skeptical I would be able to meet the premiums for an extended period of time. Another Colorado and Federal program called Cover Colorado is for the high risk population who would normally not be able to get insurance either. Both plans stipulate the applicant can not have been insured for the previous six months. Cover Colorado however could not allow surgery for the high risk condition for 6 months after signing up. I didn’t have 6 months. My cancer was so aggressive all hope would be lost if I didn’t get it stopped soonest. At the time Cover Colorado seemed to offer substantial discounts for people with low incomes. It took awhile but I finally figured the two plans were being administered by RMHP. I called and asked about it a found that yes the two plans were being handled by RMHP and that I could start with the GettingUSCovered, keep it for six months and then switch to Cover Colorado which looked significantly more affordable.

I applied, they accepted, we jumped through a bunch of hoops getting both Denver Health Medical Center and RMHP to both admit they would and did do business with each other and voila’, I was on the road to living.

Finally, I was insured and Dr. Kim was allowed to schedule me for surgery.

Monday, January 10, 2011


With the help of my original urologist’s staff, Kay and I applied for, were interviewed for and were accepted to be among the rarified few who have a CICP card. CICP stands for Colorado Indigent Care Program. Isn’t that something a hard working, well educated, activist citizen like me would want to be a part of -“Indigent”.

For the first 30 years of my career I only worked 90 hours a week. For the last 10 or 11 years I got lazy and slowed to first 70 hours and now only 50 or 60. One of their questions was whether I was employed or self-employed. The answer is neither. I am a sculptor.

OK I digress.

What is the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP)?
“The CICP provides discounted health care services to low income individuals at participating providers. CICP is not a health insurance program. The CICP is funded with federal and state dollars to partially compensate participating providers who provide health care to the uninsured and underinsured at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing administers the CICP. Health care services are provided throughout the state by hospitals and clinics that participate in the CICP. Not all hospitals and clinics participate in the program.” Colorado Department of Health Care and Financing.

Having the CICP card helps in many ways. But there are at least two reasons why it sometimes does not help at all.
First, the program is voluntary.
Second, the federal and state reimbursement levels are hideously low.

Both of these reasons factored strongly into my story.  As we were not overly thrilled with the guidance (or lack thereof) of my first urologist, it was pretty easy for us to look further upon learning he did not accept the CICP card (even though his people helped us get it). We were also a bit nonplussed with the local hospital in Canon City. Although they did accept CICP they did not have the facilities or equipment to even do the biopsy, I was not letting them anywhere near my prostate.

Extensive research took us to University Hospital in Denver. They not only accepted CICP they were the primary CICP hospital in the state. They also were one of the top prostate cancer hospitals in the nation and their Chief Urologist is supposed to be the number one prostate surgeon in the country. We had all of my records sent to University for evaluation.

Their response was swift when we called, “You have been denied. There is no appeal.”

After that shock dulled a bit we got back to work. My sister, Dr. Cindy Parker is on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Cindy was trying to find somewhere we might have an edge. She remembered we have a cousin who is the Chief Cardiologist at Denver Health Medical Center. Then she checked the credentials of the Chief Urologist, Dr. Fernando Kim, and found not only was he cutting edge in the field with his doctorate at San Paula, Brazil, and his residency at Loyola, but his specialty training in urology was –yes you guessed it- Johns Hopkins.

Cindy immediately called me and told me to call Dr. Kim’s office.  I did, left a message and waited for some secretary to call me back. A short while later while in the middle of finding change for a gallery customer the phone rang. Harried and distracted I answered.

 “This is Dr. Kim calling. Is this Robert Parker?”  The Chief Urologist was calling me personally? Wow. Only problem was I was in the middle of a sales transaction with a customer and could not talk. I explained and apologized and he actually called me back shortly thereafter. I was hooked.

Dr. Kim immediately accepted me. After questioning extensively he told me he wanted to do Cryosurgery on me and freeze the prostate twice to 40 degrees below zero. In the same operation he would laproscopically remove my lymph nodes. He immediately scheduled me for the next week and we were set. This is cutting edge with an excellent history of results. His surgery would, if not cure me, give me a much longer and better quality of life.
Kay and Cindy, and the rest of the family and I were way happy

The following statements are written in the Denver Health  Medical Center’s Mission Statement:
“Welcome to Denver Health
Denver Health is Colorado's primary “safety net” institution, providing billions of care for the uninsured; Provide access to the highest quality health care, whether for prevention, or acute and chronic diseases regardless of ability to pay; Provide life-saving emergency medicine and trauma services to Denver and the Rocky Mountain region.”

Denver Health Medical Center not only takes CICP but Dr. Kim is on salary and he had already accepted me.  WRONG!  Once Financial Office thought about it for a couple of minutes they too decided to reject us. Their reason was that I did not live in Denver County even though CICP is a Colorado state program. They decided they would charge me $27,400.00 for the surgery. They wanted $16,000 down and the rest in a year. However reasonable in medical terms this was, it still was a huge out of pocket expense for us. Remember we have qualified as medical indigents. My sister, Dr. Cindy Parker who is a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, called the administration and worked her way up through the ranks until she was able to talk with a leading administrator. They discussed my case for awhile and the administrator who is a compassionate and reasonable man agreed to lower the price to $17,810.00. He wanted $4,000.00 down and the rest in a year and a half. This was wonderful news. The cost was still terribly high for us but do-able. With the help of family and friends and by selling our car we could do it! The next day, Friday July 30, I talked to the administrator’s assistant and agreed formally to their terms.
 An hour later another person called and told me I was being rejected from care. The time was 5:30 PM, half hour after closing on Friday.
 Every professional bureaucrat we know told us this had to be a simple error and we should still go to Denver for our consultation Monday morning.
 Upon arrival we could tell bureaucratic alarm bells were going off all over. People were amazed we hadn’t gone off to die quietly.  We were shuffled off to the, Director of Ambulatory Care who was sent to deal with us.  She told us the administrator had not followed process. She repeatedly told us this was not personal, it was a process issue. 
 A Doctor was the man responsible for canceling us. His title is Director of out of county CICP Services. His job description is to deny all out of County CICP cases. (Really –I didn’t make this up).
 While we were talking with the Ambulatory Care Director and she was pretending an agreement had never been made, a secretary entered the room and handed me some papers. The top sheet was my contract, all typed up and ready for me to sign. The Director literally ripped the contract from my hands and said “You can’t have this!”
 We were then told the hospital would take us under consideration and we would be notified in 24 to 48 hours.
 The out of county director called my sister and told her he was putting the kibosh on the whole thing because it might be against the law to accept money from a CICP patient. So they wouldn’t accept me as a CICP patient because I live out of county, and they would not accept payment from me because I have a CICP card. These people are doctors, professional hospital business people, maybe lawyers and social workers. These people have all of this education and talent yet they cannot figure a way to give one person a life saving or life extending operation—even if he had found a way to pay almost $18,000 for it?
 Throughout all of this we met many folks who really wanted to help us, but as they all said, the system is broken and their hands are tied.  The system is indeed broken and because of it our lives were being jerked out of our hands.  It’s wrong.  It’s really wrong when a hospital whose mission statement is to treat the uninsured in the Rocky Mountain Region, makes a verbal agreement with us and then one man crosses us off.  We worked hard all our lives and deserve good medical care which we were not asking for free.  We were greatly disheartened.
And then came Obamacare!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

“Let Freedom Work” is already making them squirm.

First off I want to thank my friend Susan Mayfield who forwarded excerpts of this Blog to both The Daily Kos and to Blackwaterdog. The more of us who speak out and the more of us who listen to our stories of lives being saved and lives being improved because of Obamacare, the better the chances of Obamacare continuing and growing  to eventually be the healthcare system this country so desperately needs.

I was planning on writing more about our personal story with the broken healthcare system and more about Obamacare. However some interesting developments happened today I wish to share.

This afternoon Kay and I attended the steering committee meeting for Let Freedom Work. We will soon be a 501c3. This is the umbrella organization for our new soon to be community radio station and for our series of newspaper columns discussing the facts of Obamacare and how people already are benefiting (as in lives being saved). The meeting was inspiring and our group is committed to bringing a factual and progressive view to the citizens of at least two counties in Central Colorado that have as of now very little access to any news other than news presented from the viewpoint and censorship of far rightwing newspapers and radio stations.

Our most illustrious member, Gloria Stultz, (Citizen of the Year in Canon City, 2010) presented a proposal to the Canon City Daily Record to write a monthly column discussing the factual benefits of the new healthcare law and how citizens can and will get new and better healthcare that will both save lives and improve lifestyles of the people of Central Colorado.

The following was the new paper’s response:
“I'd be more interested in us doing a story rather than running a column. I understand the articles may be intended to be informative and not with political undertones, but running an ongoing series will likely cause some to think we are endorsing it and promoting it. The issue itself greatly was divided along party lines, so I know running that regularly would cause a stir.

What if you get with Carie Canterbury about the person you know with the pre-existing condition and he can talk to us about how he is going to benefit from this? I think that would be great for our paper.”
Michael Alcala  Managing Editor

The above would be a reasonable response except that virtually every article in the paper is slanted way, way to the right. The paper actually wants to work towards condemning, destroying and repealing Obamacare. Oh and did I mention they desperately want their readers ignorant of any and all of the new healthcare benefits even if it bankrupts or kills those readers?

Our next step is to buy the space as an ad and write our column in that.  We have no problem with paying for the right to write, after all the newspaper does need to make a living. I do hope though they do not attempt to continue to block us.

Here is a personal update---- I received the results of my three month PSA test yesterday. Before my surgery my PSA level was over 18. That meant rampant cancer in my prostate and probably out of my prostate. My PSA level now is less than .13 (notice the point is before the numbers). WOOHOO!!!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Creating (and selling) Art in Coaldale

The following is an article written by Mike Rosso and published in the July edition of Colorado Central Magazine:

Tooling along U.S. Hwy 50 between Canon City and Salida at 60 mph, it's easy to zoom right past the hamlet of Coaldale, nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River. But adventurous travelers might want to consider taking a break from the hot asphalt and stop under some cool, shady cottonwood trees to visit the Art Post Gallery at Itty Bitty Lakes and artist Robert Parker. Bob's got his art studio and gallery pen to the public most hours and for those willing to linger a while longer, might get a chance to tour; his wood-sculpting studio, his painting studio,and his monument and steel sculpting studios. Visitors might even get to meet the resident llama, Braveheart and Andalusian Donkey, Bailey. Bob and his wife Kay might be tempted to show off the small lakes, once part of a fish hatchery. All this in what was once the Coaldale Post Office. The point is - sometimes it's worth slowing down to experience the real deal - an artist committed to his work and a rural lifestyle that is the envy of many a strung-out urban resident. His whimsical metal sculptures, hand carved birdhouses and spiraling wood walking staffs are just some of the ways he chooses to express himself through art - talents he has been honing for many years.

We caught up with Bob in Coaldale during a rare moment of inactivity on his part to pose some questions about his background and his work.
"Matilda" 8 foot tall steel sculpture

When did your art career begin?
 I have needed to express myself visually probably since I was born. I sold a few pieces in high school and then more work at Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona while getting my BFA w/ Honors. The last time I was employed by anyone other than myself, I worked for Arizona Training Program at Tucson.  I created a couple dozen wall murals for the students and the residents. That kicked off my career. That was in 1973 or 1974.

Did you have an alternate career path?
 Throughout most of college I had a double major - Creative Writing and Sculpture. One day, almost four years into the process, I decided to become a writer. I transferred to U of A in Tucson where they had a great Creative Writing Department. In Admissions they determined I could not get a writing degree unless I completed two years of a foreign language. My memorization skills are very weak so that day I became an artist.

Any formal schooling/training?
BFA w/Honors in Sculpture from Northern Arizona University

How long you have owned Itty Bitty and a little background on the building and how you came to own it. 
I first came to Bighorn Sheep Canyon on New Years Day 1980. We settled in Cotopaxi and started the purchasing process in 1984. It was a process because I had little money and no credit. In effect I rented the property with an option to purchase with the monies paid applicable to the principal. I had no equity until 15 years later we paid the note off. It was a huge risk, but I always believed that if I worked hard enough we would be able to own Itty Bitty Lakes outright. Kay was a wonderful help and because of her we were able to own it five years earlier than originally planned.

The property was a State leased fish hatchery in the 1930s. Through the years a campground was added, the main building was added to and became a community grocery store, pool hall, post office, diesel garage, information center, real estate office, apartment rental and finally home, studios and gallery for Kay and I.

Did you do shows on the road? If so, where and for how long?
I have shown  and sold in museums, art centers, National Parks, National Monuments, Indian Reservations, wildlife preserves, galleries, stores, convention centers, hotels, officers clubs, military bases, university campuses, residential treatment centers, renaissance fairs, corporate offices, race tracks, city streets, city parks, sculpture parks, shopping malls, strip centers, casinos, coffee houses, restaurants, bars, Arabian ranches and private homes. I have pretty much continuously owned an art gallery (sometimes two) since 1988. I think that brings the total to over 600 shows spanning about 40 years.
Harvester Kachina (not in original article) 24" x 48" acrylic on canvas

How did your interest in portraying native Americans begin?
I grew up in Tucson close to the Papago (Tohono O’Odham) and Yaqui lands. College was just off of the Hopi, Navajo and Apache lands. I lived with a couple of Anthropology graduate students and one Saturday they asked if I wanted to go with them to a Hopi Kachina Ceremony. From that day I was captivated. I also studied ancient European and British cultures and mythologies, but couldn’t afford to go to Europe to study castles, ruins and artifacts. I could study the ancient cultures and mythologies, ruins and artifacts that were virtually in my own back yard. The Hopi Ceremonial Dancers were my first focus. Later, my focus became the Anasazi ruins, artifacts and primarily their ceramics.
Eventually it all led me to Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde became a major force in my artistic life that continues even to the present.

You work in a variety of mediums - do you have a favorite and why? 
For many years I worked in a dozen mediums. Even though my degree was in sculpture, it was very difficult for a young artist to sell sculpture and even more difficult to have the space and tools to create sculpture. Most art buyers at my level were more interested in paintings, drawings and fine crafts and paintings could be created on the road with less need for expensive equipment and space. Over the years the mediums became fewer with my focus being acrylics and pastels two dimensionally and bronzes, wildwoods and eventually steel three dimensionally. For the past six years almost all of my energies have gone into monumental wildwood projects and whimsical steel sculpture.
At work on Harriet, a big steel bird. Photo by Kay Parker

How long have you been able to make a living in art? (by make a living I mean not having to work for someone else)
It has been 36 years since I have been otherwise employed and before that art was the focus of my employment and education.

Who are some of your artistic influences?
Sculptors from Michelangelo, to Rodin, to Henry Moore, to George Lundeen all have a place in my work. I have also studied painters galore. When it comes to wildwoods and steel I am pretty much on my own. At my age it is probably better that way. It is important to study who has gone before and closely watch my contemporaries, but at some point one needs to take that mass of research and study, shake it all up and create one’s own work.

How about some thoughts on the art market in general?
Ploowy! The art market and I don’t see eye to eye. I am too old and cantankerous to worry about it. I won’t change it and it definitely will not change me. I live to create and be a viable member of my family and community. That is enough.

What inspired you to do the large tree pieces (what do you call them anyway?)
Mesa Verde and a 700 year old juniper forest that was uncut, ungroomed and virgin. I started seriously sculpting and finishing wildwoods thirty years ago. I started with a hiking staff format, went to vases and other small sculptures, on to larger works, always asking the tree what where it wanted to take me. It became a joint project, the tree and I, until finally the entire tree became the subject. I would create more sculptures in this genre, but space, location and funding for interior monumental work is very scarce.
"Can't Get These Damn Crows Off My Tail" 4 ft Juniper

Any other thoughts you'd like add would be helpful.
People are often surprised that I work in a variety of mediums. For me this is simply a sane approach to making the creative statement. What can be said in pastels and acrylics not only differs from each in two dimensions, but is different both in form and viewpoint than what can be said in Bronze. Focusing in,- what can be said in bronze, which is an additive form of sculpture with translations from one substance - malleable clay - to another - molten bronze,  and what can be said in steel which is also additive, but requires working in an incredibly rigid substance that refuses to be bent in three directions simultaneously, to wildwood which is totally subtractive and infused with the personality, limitations and history of the individual tree I am working with (all make my complete artistic statement).

Into the above creative equations I mix emotion and the human experience with attention to detail and finish. My individual works are often diverse, sometimes to the extreme, but as a body of work it all flows to become a single lifetime’s observation of the universe and how this artist is reacting to it.

I enjoyed the above article, as I enjoy virtually every article in "Colorado Central Magazine". I highly recommend it to any of you who are interested in the various aspects of life, history, politics, travel and most other elements of Central Colorado. You can subscribe to the magazine at  .

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let Freedoms Work

Last year Kay and I were passionately fighting for healthcare reform. We signed countless petitions and wrote letters to our Congressmen and to our President. We went to rallies both as supporters of health reform and as protestors of the anti-reform movement. We listened to speeches of candidates and office holders alike. I even made a few. Our initial dream was for a single payer system as personified in John Conyers’ HR676. But as the months wore on Single Payer was dropped and we continued to fight for first a Public Option and later extending Medicare to cover far more people. These efforts failed yet still we were able to bring into being, real (though flawed and diluted) healthcare reform. We call it Obamacare.

One of the many reasons we fought so hard was that we were two of the 45 million Americans who were un-insured.  We were insured in the past but realized that while taking a large portion of our monthly income the insurance policy we had would eventually only pay less than half of any major hospital bills we might incur in the future. We canceled the policy and went looking for more reputable insurers. This was when we found that for us they simply did not exist. An agent from Blue Cross Blue Shield came to our home to sign us up. During the interview and application process we were informed that because we both had skin cancers previously removed Blue Cross would never cover either of us for any cancer ever. Then when informed that I had once had mildly high cholesterol which had been lowered successfully with diet and exercise, the agent told us Blue Cross would never cover any heart related condition or event ever. Kay has the mildest of asthma so Blue Cross refused to treat any respiratory ailment of Kay’s ever. Needless to say , we bid the agent a polite farewell.

So there we were healthy (I had never spent any time in a hospital) and active, hoping to stay that way until we would qualify for Medicare.

Every April, 9Healthfair comes to our canyon and to Salida. This year along with my usual blood work, I had a PSA test done. I had it done a few years ago and really knew nothing about it. I didn’t know what PSA was or how it mattered. It was recommended so I said, “Sure go ahead.”

A few days later I received a phone call from 9Healthfair telling me to see my doctor immediately. I had a PSA level of 13. That phone call sent me on a journey that changed my life for ever. I had prostate cancer. I was un-insured. My urologist after reading my biopsy (a process that took two months itself) told us my cancer was aggressive and there was no cure. He said there was an 85% chance the cancer had spread outside my prostate. He shook his head a lot and while giving me treatment options implied I was going to die.

We were shocked, stunned depressed and scared. We knew nothing good of the system and nothing about prostate cancer, where to go for treatment or how we would pay for any treatment we received. The biopsy alone set us back significantly even though the good doctor gave us a deal.

It is now more than six months later.  Due to intensive research by my sister Dr. Cindy Parker, my brother-in-law Dr. Steve Shapiro, Kay and myself; Due to incredible support by family, friends and even people we do not know well or in some cases know at all; Due to Obamacare’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance that in Colorado is called GettingUSCovered; Due to one of the nation’s finest surgeons undertaking a new minimally invasive surgery; And due to finally being accepted as a patient at one of Colorado’s premier hospitals I am at least technically cancer free and back to leading a productive life.

As I have written earlier, I believe the corporate right is effectively keeping progressive media on an unequal footing with what has become the NeoCon’s Tea Party Propaganda machine. If an American has access to a television or radio they can and most likely will be subjected to the likes of Fox News, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly or AM radio’s Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and a host of other mouth pieces for the likes of Big Oil, Big Health Insurance and the Republican Party. The same is nowhere as true for progressive media. Obamacare’s unpopularity can be easily traced to this problem. The right spins deceit and lies about Obamacare while the left has a much smaller platform to inform the public about what is in the healthcare bill and how Obamacare is saving lives and improving the quality of life for probably millions already and most people in the future.

Here is where we come in. We are poor and definitely not famous. We have very limited media contacts, but we do have a story, we are creative and we can work hard, so we are organizing a group of people to work to bring explanations and defense of Obamacare on a point by point basis and to bring progressive thinking to more people in our region. While our base is the active Democrats of Fremont County we will also be working with people of many diverse disciplines and areas of expertise.

For months we have been nibbling verbally around the edges of this problem, discussing possibilities and obstacles.  Now we are beginning to act. On Thursday December 2, 2010 we held our first meeting to begin the hard planning towards increasing our progressive media footprint.

First, Kay and I along with Gloria Stultz and Dick Carney are going to go public with our story and to help show people what Obamacare really is and how it works. It did save my life after all.

Second, we hope to buy a column in the local newspaper (s) that will be dedicated to explaining the new healthcare system on a point by point basis and other progressive issues. We want the column to build into a once a week affair.

Third, we are starting a feasibility committee to look into the possibility of starting up a community radio station in Canon City and any other ways of reaching people through their radios and their computers.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Do I Create One Masterpiece - Or Lots Of Little Works?

Fish Songbird Home in Rocky Mountain Juniper and walnut
It is time to talk about art, creativity and some of the decisions needed to constantly balance creation and business.

On the rare occasions when I create something that virtually sings, friends and family will suggest, “Why don’t you make fifteen or twenty of these? It will really give your gallery a wonderful statement.” Invariably they will be talking about a sculpture that took several months to create.

Some artists make small inexpensive work. Some artists only do grand major pieces. I have always been caught in the middle. I must confess I am a slow creator. Most people think that creating art is similar to making fast food. Pop those puppies out as fast as possible and you will get rich. For some craft persons that actually is how they operate and I am in awe (of course they are almost never rewarded with the “rich” part). To pull this off it takes repetition and the creativity takes a very back seat.

Having never broken into the big time I have always needed small and inexpensive pieces of art to pay the daily bills. The majority of my customers are not wealthy. Smaller work or reproductions are a way someone who appreciates what I do can afford to both support me and to take something home to enjoy.

However, I am obsessed with creating major, life size and monumental works. Why bother with a work of art unless it can be the very best I can do?  My very best requires uniqueness, visual movement, manipulating my mediums to the max and great attention to detail. Creating a work with the above elements takes a huge amount of creative thought, experimental time where an idea may hit a wall of impossibility and large amounts of time, money and attention to details. For these works I must charge at least a reasonable sum and quite often quite a lot (sometimes simply to make minimum wage).

So you see my quandary. If I work months or years on a piece, there will be no time to make the quicker more sell-able works. If I make the smaller pieces I stand a greater chance of enough sales to pay some bills, but have no time to create the works I love and that really move the passions within the viewer.

Doing both is my only logical answer. The smaller works must be the best I can do within the work’s limitations too - so – there is never enough work finished in one place at one time.

As an artist I must be true to self. I must continue to love what I do.  Now I must find the time to pull it all off.

"Entessence" 15' x 10' x 6' Rocky Mountain Juniper