"Bremen, Stacked" - mixed media on watercolor paper, 22" x 15". Available here and at Artfinder.
Donkeys. They still call to me. So when Valerie Thomson challenged me to paint the Musicians of Bremen, right away I felt so sad for the donkey in the statue commemorating this legend in Bremen, Germany. Poor donkey, holding up all those other animals since 1953. So consider this piece a reverse Bremen stack. The donkey is happy to whisper into the ear of the pooch. The rooster maybe doesn't like being on the bottom, but it does make him feel important to support all the others (he told me so).
Someone familiar with my donkey obsession recommended the book Saving Simon. It was buried in my stack of books to be read until last week. I barely made it through the first chapter without falling into a heap of tears. But I persisted, and thank goodness. This little book is a wealth of wisdom about compassion and suspending judgement - two things desperately needed in our world.
You've heard these types of stories before, dear reader, so I won't stand on the soapbox of animal rescue today. But how about human rescue? In this book, Katz proposes we find the same amount of compassion for the folks who put these animals into distress as we do for the animals themselves. WHAT? Wait! You might be wondering what the heck Katz is thinking here. And I was, too. Until he wrote about all of the organizations, people, programs and energy available for animals who need rescuing. And then compared that with the national organization for humans who need rescuing. Oh. Right. There isn't one. We see a lost dog on the street and we bring him home, give him shelter and look for his family. If we can't find them, odds are we take him in or find someone else who will. But when we see a lost or homeless person...well, it isn't the same response, is it? I know, it isn't that simple. But maybe it could be. If we felt the same amount of compassion for people.
I haven't finished the book yet, but already I know it will be one I keep in my collection. And not just because it is about a donkey. This gem of a book reminds us of something we all have in common in America - both the left and the right - we agree that animals should not be abused or neglected. So maybe, just maybe, if we start with something we all agree on, we can take baby steps forward until we find common ground about people, too. Just saying.
Now if you've got a lazy afternoon and want to enjoy some nostalgia, here is the Muppet version of the Musicians of Bremen. :)