Saturday, November 28, 2020

Birth Control Glasses

 One of the things that every Navy sailor or veterans knows about is the curious case of Navy-issued glasses, known to sailors as "Birth Control Glasses" or "BCG."

Somehow these nerdy glasses became hip in the 2000s, a great testimonial to the overwhelming power of Millennials and follow-on generations to enjoy what their predecessors abhorred and detested.

Upon arrival to boot camp, one of the first things confiscated - if you wore glasses - were your nice, hopefully cool "civilian" glasses. They were almost overnight replaced with BCGs, which had the magical power of turning anyone, no matter how beautiful or handsome, into an immediate geek, not worth procreation.

Therefore, one of the first things that most sailors then did upon graduation from boot camp was to head to the Navy Exchange, find the eye doctor, and order some "civilian" glasses. Only those unfortunately born to be nerds, kept their BCGs, and I suspect that the BCGs and their original glasses were quite similar.

When I was stationed in San Diego in the late 1970s, our gang of squids and leather necks used to have as part of our group a Third Class Hospital Corpsman (HM3) who worked at the medical facility next to the San Diego boot camp area, which I think also served the Marine Corps boots in the Marine base on Barnett Avenue next to the Navy base then in Point Loma and now closed for many years.

This HM3 managed to have access to all the BCGs that boots would discard when they got their civilian glasses at the Point Loma base, and he'd rescue them from the garbage dumps and save them in a box.

Why would an HM3 save BCGs by the dozens each week you ask?

Each weekend, my then girlfriend Andrea, who was the only one among us losers who actually had a car, would pack her Toyota with my friends and I and drive us to the border with Mexico, where we'd head for Tijuana, or "TJ" as sailors call it, for a night of drinking and fooling around - is was essentially the only option for the under 21 crowd, as back then the only place around San Diego where a Navy sailor under 21 could get a drink was at the Enlisted Club on base (weird to think that back then a sailor could drink booze on base, but not out in town if you were under 21).

Going to the Enlisted Club deserves another story... suffice to say that usually there were usually a few hundred sailors and Marines in there and four women. If you brought a girl to the club, you better be ready to fight a few dozen drunks messing with your girl every few minutes.

So we'd go to TJ, and Andrea (who was perhaps the nicest person whom I've ever met) would drop us off at the border crossing and either agree to pick us up early the next day... or sometimes wait in the parking lot while she studied (she was in college).

When I say nice, I mean super nice!

We'd then head to the border crossing and once in Mexico hail a taxi.  As most of us were usually busted a few days after payday, the "in-betweens" is where the BCGs came into play.  First we'd hail a taxi and - since I spoke Spanish - I'd explain to the cab driver that we'd trade him a few pairs of prescription glasses for a ride to town.

That's some of us in the pic below...

It always worked - every single time! A few times (to my surprise) the driver would even start trying glasses until he found his prescription - that always left a bit of squirm in the pit of your stomach to realize that the driver needed glasses and didn't have any until that point.

At the bar(s) we'd bring out the box and start trading drinks for glasses... with the bar tender, with the bouncers, with the bar girls, with the customers... essentially with anyone interested... and who needed glasses.

It always worked!

The trick was to estimate (and we got good at it) how many glasses we'd need at one or two o'clock in the morning when we'd need them to get a cab back to the border crossing.

And that's how discarded BCGs bought all kinds of things in trade for a bunch of broke-ass American sailors in search of a drink!

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Macha

The Macha c. 2019 Original charcoal and conte on unfired Bisque by F. Lennox Campello
The Macha
c. 2019 Original charcoal and conte on unfired Bisque

"The Macha" is an original charcoal and conte drawing on unfired broken Bisque - the plate is curved and sticks out about 1 inch from the wall once hung -- It is signed and dated in pencil recto and titled, signed and dated in marker recto on the verso. Again... the work hangs on the wall and projects about 1 inch off the wall, so it's a bit three-dimensional... 

The Macha is the Celtic Goddess who is the protector of women and children.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Feet wet

 Sometimes people ask me why I'm always drawing mostly women... like the Carlos Gardel song says: "Si soy así ¿qué voy a hacer? pa' mí la vida tiene forma de mujer..."

"Feet wet (soon to be feet dry): Cuba loses another daughter" by F. Lennox Campello
"Feet wet (soon to be feet dry): Cuba loses another daughter" Charcoal and conte on paper 1990s In a private collection in Boston

This is "Feet wet (soon to be feet dry): Cuba loses another daughter" circa late 1990s, done after President Clinton imposed the "feet dry/feet wet" policy which condemned to jail thousands of Cubans trying to escape from Castro's Workers' Paradise and who were caught "feet wet" and returned to the prison island. It is in a private collection in Boston. 18x24 inches, charcoal on paper.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

My grandfather

My paternal grandfather - a Galician immigrant to Cuba. Together with his brother he started out as a ditch digger in Guantanamo at the beginning of the last century, sleeping in the woods and saving money to eventually buy a cow, and then they began to sell milk while they alternated working as ditch diggers in the growing city, which was one of the first in all the Americas with underground sewers. 

By 1959 he owned a large estate and provided milk for most of the region around Guantanamo. By 1961 the Socialists of the Castro Revolution had shown their true cards and declared themselves Communists and confiscated all of his assets. Within two years there were milk shortages all over the island and they remain to this day.

This is what we Americans of Cuban ancestry mean when we say that "we've seen that movie and know how it ends..."

Monday, November 02, 2020

Calls for Entry: HoCo Open

 All Howard County artists are invited to participate in HoCo Open 2021, HCAC’s annual, non-juried exhibit showcasing local artists. In lieu of a one-day drop-off, entries will be accepted online beginning November 5th on a first-come basis, one entry per artist, until 100 submissions have been received. The drop-off dates for the exhibit are December 17 & 18. Accepted artists will be provided with instructions for scheduling a specific time to drop off their artwork at the Center for the Arts.

HoCo Open will be on display from January 9 – February 20, 2021. For the full prospectus and to apply, visit their website.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Now Open: Artist Applications for the 2021 Festival

Let's go back to normal in 2021! Apply for the annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival.

Now in its 30th year, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival has a long-standing reputation for showcasing high quality, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind artwork in a dynamic outdoor setting. The Festival provides an opportunity to engage directly with exceptional artists, as juried in by leading art practitioners and artists in the visual arts field, that meet a high level of artistic standards. This unique open-air event is presented in Reston Town Center and attracts affluent patrons and knowledgeable collectors from the Washington, DC metropolitan region and beyond. 

This year, the 2021 Festival will implement new health and safety adaptations for the care and consideration of all. 

Artist applications are accepted through ZAPPlication through December 27, 2020

Saturday, October 31, 2020

2021 Susan Beech Mid-Career Grant

 Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) is pleased to announce the 2021 Susan Beech Mid-Career Artist Grant opportunity for mid-career artists.  The purpose of this grant, established by San Francisco-based jewelry collector Susan Beech, is to recognize a mid-career artist who has made a substantial contribution to the field and to provide resources to develop and implement a significant jewelry-related project that the artist would not otherwise have the ability to undertake.

The 2021 Susan Beech Mid-Career Artist Grant is open to makers between the ages of 35 and 55 at the time of the proposal deadline, and must have an active and ongoing record of activity in the field. 

The proposed project should be about jewelry, loosely defined. There must be a specific outcome to the project, and it must be completed within a two-year time frame. Examples could include (but are not limited to) creation of a new body of work; a book, catalog, or other publication; research and development (including travel study); performance art involving jewelry; or an educational/social initiative involving jewelry. A proposed budget must be included as part of the proposal. 

A proposal that was previously submitted may be submitted again.

The grant recipient will receive a cash grant of $20,000, to be paid over the two years in which the project will be implemented.

Grant proposals must include:

  • A biography of the artist 
  • A project proposal outlining the project, including an explanation of how the grant will help support the artist’s work and career and enhance the field  
  • A detailed budget 
  • A project proposal portfolio of five - ten images that support/define/clarify the project proposal 

The jury of distinguished professionals for this grant cycle will be: grant founder and collector Susan Beech (United States); internationally recognized maker and educator, Daniel Kruger (Germany); and curator of jewelry at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Emily Stoehrer (United States). 

The deadline to apply is midnight, MST (Denver, CO, USA), on January 10, 2021. More information and complete guidelines can be found at