Island Head - by A.W. Sprague II
“Ego Ergo Imbroglio” – by A.W. Sprague II
First Place – Surreal Circus
“Ego Ergo Imbroglio”
Here I am
and there I go
Ego Ergo Imbroglio
Where ever I am
is where I know
there’s Ego Ergo Imbroglio
A confident man
fumbling a plan
that’s Ego Ergo Imbroglio
when wringing the hands
or making a stand
it’s Ego Ergo Imbroglio
Ego Ergo Imbroglio
my own best friend
my own worst enemy
I’m Ego Ergo Imbroglio
When self is self-centered
expect bad weather
because Ego means Ergo Imbroglio
The best laid plans
whether mouse or man
are Ego Ergo Imbroglio
- by A.W. Sprague II
“The Dramatic Dharma of Dueling Dualism” – by A.W. Sprague II
A.W. Sprague II is an artist and writer who explores Surrealism and investigates big questions – Zen, Dharma, Dali, Kerouac, even Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Within his philosophical ponderings, Sprague – known to his friends as Bill – creates a world, one brilliant with color and vision, complex and perplexed, evocative and elaborate. He labors over the absurd and the meaning of life, finding a place to express himself in art and words.
“Decreased Working Class Dining Fashion Courtesy of Migratory Manufacturing Madness” – by A.W. Sprague II
Bill, you’ve told me about your early childhood in a small town along the Susquehanna River in central New York, near an industrial plant that built parts for the Saturn V space program. I’m struck by the same elements in your art: the pastoral setting of fields and waterways, marked by the grand workings of man in his determination to explore. Do you think your beginnings, in terms of place and experience, have influenced your art? Would you tell us about this?
Absolutely. The Foothills of the Catskills is a region filled with spectacular scenery marked by the progress of mankind. From the trees and grassy meadows, low mountains and babbling brooks, blue skies and midnight moons to the railroad tracks, iron bridges and concrete dam that were all part of my childhood surroundings, those influences appear in many ways, both subtle and gross, in my assembled scenarios. I can also attribute the joy and desire I have for creating art and writing pieces to growing up in that region. There was, and still is, a very strong cultural arts presence in the area; and it imbued me with the perspective that art is both valuable and important.
The proximity of the Saturn V project to my childhood home made the notion of space travel perfectly tangible to me. It gave me an expectation for a science-fiction level future. Another impact of the Saturn V program was learning how manufacturing jobs could bring pride and economic stability to a previously depressed region; and then how those things would fade when the manufacturing jobs disappeared.
“Jimmy Snork Ponders the Moon” – by A.W. Sprague II
Obelisk, icon, or satellite?
Tough question. I love obelisks for what they are, icons for what they do, and satellites because I act like one. I’d like to vote for all three.
“The Memory Pool” – by A.W. Sprague II
Literary influences? And art influences?
The first author to have a profound impact on my life was Steinbeck; and the effect did not come from reading his books, but rather from seeing about one hour’s worth of the black-and-white movie version of The Grapes of Wrath. At the age of nine, I felt that television news was just the plight of strangers who lived in places far away. I had little context for what they were experiencing. The dramatic portrayal of Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl farmers hit me at an emotional level like the proverbial ton of bricks. It vexed me for days and led to several meaningful conversations with my parent about what “real” life was like. I was much less a child after that.
Conscious influences on my art would be the color palette of Maxfield Parrish, the attitude of Robert Rauschenberg, the approach of Dadaism and the presentations of Dali. The inspirations I juggle in my mind when writing include Carlos Castenada, Gene Rodenberry, Roald Dahl, Rod Serling, and Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
“Prometheus’ Pals” – by A.W. Sprague II
the nothing to be alarmed about alarm bell is ringing
the nothing to be alarmed about alarm bell rings
because there is nothing to be alarmed about
so remain calm
- from The Nothing to Be Alarmed About Alarm Bell Rings
– an illustrated book by A.W. Sprague
“An Evolution of Toys” – by A.W. Sprague II
Do you think your experiences while in the Air Force during the 1970′s have shaped your writing in terms of structure and subject? I’m thinking especially of your illustrated book, When the Nothing to Be Alarmed About Alarm Bell Rings.
The idea/subject for “Alarm Bell” originated with the government’s daily terror alerts in the years after September 11, 2001. In concert, both national and local media followed suit with speculations on most likely targets, precautions to take, and things to do if caught in an event or aftermath. This constant barrage of fear-instilling thoughts pushed me to a point where I had to reassure myself that a terrorist act was not likely to happen in my town, or at any of the places I frequented. Remembering the words of a recovering alcoholic I once knew, in how he had conditioned his mind to react to advertisements for alcohol as reminders that he should not drink, I turned my situation on its head by perceiving the alerts as alarms that told me everything was going to be okay.
The inspiration for the structure came from a common element in Dystopian stories, in which a repetitive regimented announcement, usually broadcast by a totalitarian government, drones on for the purpose of conditioning the populace. Influences from my military experience can be found in several of the pictures in this piece.
“Celebratory Minions of The Absurd Embrace The Directions of Sacred Leaders and Venerate an Indicated Untitled” – by A.W. Sprague II
Tell us about your interest in Surrealism and your work with The Surreal Circus.
Surrealism has been a fascination of mine since I was young. The odd objects, strange arrangements, and eerie backdrops usually present a sense of mystery or mysticism, and the puzzle solver within me rises eagerly to the challenge of ferreting out meaning. From an artistic standpoint, I embrace Surrealism because I believe we all need to have our psyches challenged. The history of humanity is filled with incidences where we, as a group, had to alter mental perceptions on the fly in order to accommodate newly discovered, life-changing dimensions of reality, previously hidden or unnoticed. In this light, Surrealism is an evolutionary helper that exercises the part of our mind which digests, interprets, and adapts to unusual and unexpected things from the safety of home, gallery, or museum.
The Surreal Circus was a very active Internet group. I have to say “was” because the Gather.com web site has been stalled under renovations for the past five months; very sad. At the time I stumbled into The Circus, it was being actively managed by an arts and nature blogger, Ann Marcaida (annmarcaida.tumblr.com). Ann’s open and friendly communications set an interactive and encouraging spirit which permeated the overall group. After sharing many works, both artistic and written, and having them well received, I entered a short story in their flash fiction contest and an image in their digital art contest. Honorable mention was awarded to the story, while the image won First Place. Soon after this, I was invited to become one of the moderators.
Moderating for a group is a challenge. Work submitted to the group had to be reviewed and approved; and there were as many as fifty submissions per day. Blatantly off-topic submissions could be rejected easily, while on-topic and near-topic submissions required extra thought and consideration. Moderating to that level of flow and criteria often took hours. My favorite reward was the inspiration that so often came after being saturated in the works of others.
“Jealoedipusib” – by A.W. Sprague II
“I’m a plastic coated dharma bum,
dashboard companion to a station wagon,
bubblin’ down some roads of life.”
“The clerk walked me over and handed me a copy of “On The Road” suggesting it as a good place to start and then left me to it. I read the jacket and hesitantly put it back. “The Dharma Bums” was next to it and that was the book I’d come looking for. I wanted to read the book that supposedly chronicled the start of the Zen lunatics and the rucksack wanderers.
You’ll probably think it pretentious that I think of myself as spiritual kin to Kerouac types. Rest assured, I’m fully aware that compared to their solar brilliance I am but a twinkle in the eye of someone who was looking the other way.”
- from “Plastic Coated Dharma Bum” – by A.W. Sprague II
A.W. Sprague II – Artist & Writer
A.W. Sprague II is a creative artist and writer, currently living in Central Ohio. He uses photo manipulation software and digital illustration techniques to create artwork along the surreal, science fiction, and graphic genres. He also paints with acrylics, builds ceramics, creates mixed media sculptures and writes poetry, essays, non-fiction, and fiction. His award-winning work has been featured in several places on the Internet, as well as published in small, alternative, and amateur presses since 1986. Previous to that, it filled notebooks, decorated walls and gathered dust in piles and boxes.
His art and writing are featured on his website http://tastethebrain.blogspot.com and at http://columbusarts.com/artists/464-aw-sprague-ii/.
The Poppy: An Interview Series
Four to six questions begin as pods, then burst open with answers, bright lapis,
black-stamened, conspicuous—ornament, remembrance, opiate.
This interview first posted at Hothouse Magazine.