copyright Kern Baxter
In 1977 while setting in a crane, I turned on a small transistor FM radio. A song I had never heard before was playing. It was titled Ghost Riders in the Sky by Vaughn Monroe. The song came to life as my imagination visualized the words.
Fifteen years later on a small Island that was located, 'Somewhere between the Mainland and Paradise", as I liked to describe it, I found the original 33 1/3 recording of it in a thrift shop milk bin. I bought it for 50 cents and walked across the street to my studio apartment and listened to it for the second time in my 42 years. This time, I sketched out the original vision I had. Ten years after that, I started painting the 7' X 7' canvas. Before I explain the painting, I suggest that you first listen to the original recording by Vaughn Monroe as I did. This link should take you to it.
I separated the bottom earthly physical part of the painting from the top 'spiritual' sky part. The spiritual parts are greater and larger in size in relation to the bottom lower parts which are of temporary existence.
The song begins as an old cowpoke rides out one on one dark and windy day. Upon a ridge, he rested as he went along his way.
The painting's meaning became apparent to me only after its completion. The man on the horse is wearing a white hat symbolizing that he believes himself to be a 'good person' as he moves proudly along through life. However, his path is right on the ragged edge of an overhanging dangerous ridge. Upward ahead, the horizon line converges to meet the vanishing point where everything physical ends. This includes his life.
Suddenly, he notices a herd of red-eyed cows, the ghost herd, plowing through the skies with their brands still on fire.
While being painted, in that same direction are formations know as monuments that represent idols. The features of the most dominant one unexpectedly developed a face on it. It was totally unplanned and outside of my control. The image had developed completely by itself due to the technique used to achieve it.
Think about that for a while.....