Uncle Art: There’s a story here

So, when I was packing, I found this amazing triptych piece my Uncle painted back in the 70’s. Fierce, no? This bad boy hung above our kitchen table for most of the 80’s until one of the cats knocked it over into a cheese casserole and that was the end of that. It’s been in and out of closets ever since.
One time, when he was over for a visit, I asked him what it was about and he said the purple guy on the pedestal was the caterpillar, (as in, The Caterpillar from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”). I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now, knowing a little more about Alice, and recognizing that in the 70’s my Uncle smoked everything but his shoes, I can’t help but wonder: Um, wtf is going on here?
Half the painting is dudes with spears, the other half are dudes with ladders, then there is one lonely lady in yellow at the base of the pedestal all sad and forlorn and faceless.
What’s up with that?
It’s a good weird, but a weird weird too. It’s some sort of idol worship something I think. The idea that I ate most of my childhood cheerios under it makes me wonder even more. Who is the lady in yellow? Is Alice the lady in yellow? Why do they have their spears out? What’s up with the Caterpillar in the Shriner’s hat? Where does one even get a purple Shriner’s hat?
I just don’t know where to begin. Thoughts, anyone? What is the story here?


  1. Jonesy says

    I think it looks Japanese. I’ll bet there is some mythology behind it.

  2. says

    I’m not sure about the lady in yellow but it looks like the two groups are divided by either wanting to end or own the caterpillar. It’s interesting that everyone other than the caterpillar is a woman. The style is similar to the style I use in my paintings… a sort of neo-byzantine.

  3. says

    Cindy D is exactly right. The pillar is correct, the arches mimic the arches at St. Simeon’s Church. He included the famous ladder. You now have a late 70’s religious triptych. Treat it with dignity, no Muppets or cat houses within ten feet.

  4. says

    Uh oh, I don’t think I can find a ten foot stretch without muppets or a cat house! Might have to make one. I sure hope St. Simeon approves of sequins.

  5. says

    St. Simeon looking Japanese… this is really great.

  6. says

    I’m learning all kinds of history today. I’m Catholic and had never heard of St Simeon before now. Apparently we Catholics celebrate St Simeon on January 5th… And he holds the Guinness record for longest “pole sit” at 39 years. Can you imagine?. Didn’t even know that “pole sitting” was a thing…

    I love the triptych. It is fierce!

  7. says

    Oh the wonders of the internet – knew someone would have the answer! I had no F-ing clue what this could be about lol. Never heard of St. Simeon either. After reading the wikipedia article, the lady in yellow must be his mother.

  8. Cindy D says

    OK… I have to admit… I googled it. After 4 years of art history classes I couldn’t believe a triptych with this story never came up in one of those lectures (or maybe it did and I was sleeping :). I do love it… and it’s so cool that your Uncle wanted you to have it….. and now you know the story!

  9. says

    Such a delightful story… what a wonderful piece of art to hold onto!
    I myself, am not really sure where this design/concept came from… a movie, catalog… it is priceless tho. *hugs*

  10. says

    apart from what is truly a delightful story and the deep insight my fellow readers have provided, there is positively a dirty element there. That mustard lady shows way too much affection to the rather obviously shaped screw… I mean pole. Are you sure your uncle stopped short of smoking his shoes? Btw, this must be one of your best posts ever. And not only for obvious reasons 😉

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