Tag Archives: fire

I WILL KEEP DANCING: Grace. Happy Mother’s Day to my little boy.


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How To Disappear Completely

How To Disappear Completely.

(On the third anniversary of this photograph, now fully recovered.)

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2014 in Review: Saints and Sinners (janice j. cunningham)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Do you like art and the creative process? Does the “eccentric” life of the “typical” artist intrigue you? Scare you? Amuse you? Inspire you? Read on…

Allo allo!

I would like to cordially invite you to join my ARTISTS’ group on Facebook:


It is a private, invitation-only group,  but if you request membership, an admin will approve you as long as you’re not a bot.

Not only do I post my own work and artistic musings, as well as upcoming shows and #contemporary #art news, but I have SO MANY uber-talented friends worldwide, whose work I love to share with the public every day.

You could be one of them! All art is the soul, ergo beautiful.

So far the group has almost 4k  (!!! — so grateful) members, so if you would like to either be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, please be my guest.

To me, my readers and followers are all VIPs.

Try it out and see if you like it…you can always leave! Ain’t no Hotel California, lol…

Feel free to also follow me on #Twittter: @jjgrape.

(I heretofore take no responsibility for any profanities or insanities contained therein. Twitter is fun! No rules. Just what we painters like best.)  😀

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OPHELIA SWIMS. 2013. Oil, gold leaf, tears, and poppy dust on wood. 18x24

It’s my happy place — besides the library, the easel, or in front of my iMac. 🙂

Above are a few samplings of my paintings, but this group is dedicated to sharing the work of my many artist friends from all around the globe: a virtual #gallery of sorts! What fun.

(But it is strictly bring your own wine and cheese… 😦  Sincere apologies. Hehe.)



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To be able to feel others’ feelings

as your own

in this odd world , quite frankly,

 is no party.

A demise born into, most certainly not chosen.

i am a human pin cushion,

 far too-easily bruised.

Bananas? Perhaps.

But, I am so sorry, sir:

  Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas…

Talking to no one today,
i take refuge in my stacks of books and
jars of paintbrushes

tubes of paint are loyal friends.

i will go running after dark
to a chorus of peepers
under the moon,


i will paint my life a different color
if i want to,
because i need to.

people  hurt,

like hot pebbles on August asphalt,
stuck in skinned knees

or a tiny shard of
a broken wine glass,


stepped on,
barefoot and inebriated

— so in love you don’t notice

 until  bloody footprints

  dance around your flat

in all their crimson splendor.

Love leaves.

Blood stains,


and souls.

This pain can be ignored or deflected,
i choose to use it
as fuel.

Do not play with fire
unless you enjoy

a gentle admonition delivered

with piercing eyes.

Do as thou wilt,
is the whole of The Law–

but harm none.

JJC   9.14

OPHELIA SWIMS. 2013. Oil, gold leaf, tears, and poppy dust on wood. 18×24


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Sunny summer’s day,
i hide between dark library stacks

protected, or so it seems,

by walls of the yellowing pages

of other people’s lives.

Echoes of little boys’ laughter
in the treetops in the park
made me weep

so i fled.

i miss you,
my only son

and how i love you
than you will ever




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The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial

The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial.

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The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial


…just came across this one, written in the bleak summer of 2012 and never posted.

Difficult to read this, it was…i have since nearly forgotten the horrors that my eyes have seen in the past 12 months alone.

THIS, I will NEVER EVER forget: the horror of BURNING ALIVE for almost five minutes while remaining fully conscious.
I went into paralytic shock and simply stared at the hungry orange flames, greedily licking my arms and reaching for my face.
My silk tee shirt melted into my chest.
My grandmother’s antique 24K gold crucifix glowed hot in the flames, presumably almost molten. I have a burn scar underneath where it hung.
Alas, it did not survive the inferno that my little body miraculously did.
I will never forget that image of a glowing tiny Jesus, helpless on the cross, looking up at me from my own chest in my burning kitchen.

“STOP, DROP, AND ROLL”, the epic drill taught to us in elementary school during the Cold War Era,
completely slipped my mind.

However, ON A POSITIVE NOTE!!! — I am delighted to say that through the use of beautiful images and positive thinking, as well as the purest love of my three year old son, William James, I have made it through another personal Hell. Through the the magickal world that is photography, painting, and digital imagery, I have crawled, bloody and charred, from the bottom of the blackest of millennial holes. AGAIN I WILL STAND IN LIGHT. Painting religiously, writing, and shooting, while exercising like a madwoman and plying myself with vegan meals and phytonutrients, I have overcome burn injuries that would frighten Freddie Krueger into submission. (I sustained third degree burns on 80% of my body above the torso, excluding, somehow, my head — and have healed 1000% following the most gruesome nightmare i ever had while awake.)

My left arm, once slated for amputation, was surgically receated in January, using flesh and skin grafts from my lower and mid-lumbar region, and I sweated through 8 months of grueling physical therapy. I graduated!
My melted and charred body, has somehow (!!!???) completely regenerated itself almost as if the fire itself was eons ago in a distant forest.

SO, here goes…thank God it is over. One more nightmare under my belt.
Hold on, little Susie — this old leather belt is running out of notches.
There will probably not be One More Chance.
For my life, I am eternally grateful.
Here is the BEFORE pic of my arm, post-surgery just 10 months ago.
The last four photos are the AFTER pics, now.

July 14, 2012

“I am trying to remember — one step at a time today — that the body is merely a temple for the soul. I feel that my temple has been blasted with a wrecking ball and am sick of pretending I am fine.

Everyone thinks I am such a hero, and so beautiful, and I am sorry to tell you that it is bullshit.
I am alive. That does not make me a hero.
I have been hiding in my house in the heat trying not to cry because the painkillers do not work, and posting pretty pictures to make myself happy. I stared at my ceiling fan all night in bed, sleepless, praying that the itching and the pins and needles would stop. But every time I drifted off, BAM!!! A stab here, a pinched nerve there. I got so mad, I screamed, got out of bed, threw my pillow against the wall and made a pot of coffee. Called it quits. Heroic behavior? I think not.

I am looking at a body that was once athletic and proud and is now a shriveled mass of gristle and scar tissue. How can I sit back and allow you all to shower me with accolades simply for staying alive? How can I allow you all to tell me how beautiful I am? I look in the mirror now and I want to vomit.

I think maybe I am a writer, painter and  photographer because I can create a more beautiful world than the one that actually exists. I look at the photos I post and sometimes think, “Gee, I wish that was my life.” Maybe I have disassociative disorder. Maybe, as a photographer, I am merely a liar with a camera and a paintbrush.  I have been told that the world I have created is indeed a beautiful one, so that leaves me to ponder further on whether or not the filter of intense physical pain causes me to see everything as ruined and distorted — hence my unending surprise when I do see my photographs uploaded on to the screen.  “Who’s life IS that? Certainly not mine!”

I am not fine. I am in pain. And I am sick of being strong today. I just can’t.

Sorry. I am going to let myself hide, let myself cry, and
just keep trying to photograph myself onto another quantum plane. Lord knows this one is feeling mighty sucky today.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. The truth comes out. If people run from me now, as I expect they may, I will smile in recognition of the fact that when you laugh, the world laughs with you.
And when you cry, you surely cry alone.
I have my paints. I have my books. I have my son.
I have God. At least I thought I did.
I am beginning to wonder.”


November 23, 2012. 9:20:48 P.M. EST

ALLES IN ORDNUNG. I am A-otay, Buckwheat.

Âllo, Herr FIRE???
Was ist das?
Who is laughing now?

Yours truly,
The Original NYC COCKROACH — unkillable.

Janice J. Cunningham
Planet Earth

Take THAT, mighty god of HELLFIIIAH! Mwahahaha. :O


Filed under art, cool stuff, diary, duality, existentialism, imperfection, life, love, photography, stupidity

The Fine Art of Disappearing

Today is Tuesday. I am embarrassed to admit that sometimes, I am not sure of dates, days, time. I have been living days at a stretch in a space that simply cannot be defined in linear or quantitative terms.  This is not escapism, but rather, a survival measure.

Physical pain has subsided after last night’s unexpected dip into a fresh inferno of screaming nerve damage and charred skin.

Emotional pain: thankfully, nonexistent any more. Just a vaccuum where that was — an expectant, quietly joyful void. It is all good. Very, very good.

I am painting outdoors in the cloudy Long Island chill, the air heavy with rain not yet fallen. I will complete three canvasses before I leave New York: nine ladybugs, one big red crab, and a third, a magic spell of sorts: a  portrait of two souls who parted ways in a silent blaze of anger and sadness, leaving behind a broken antique wrought iron bed and a child of pure light — a little boy of three who does not know his father.

I painted the lovers first surrounded by my favorite colors, Alizarin crimson and napthol scarlet…passionate, but also angry and volatile. This disturbed me — flashbacks. New York City nights of joy and lovemaking, ending on the floor in a heap of tears and sorrow washed over me and i could smell the scent of incense, Nat Shermans, and Bombay Sapphire and tonic. I inhaled the warmth of the crook in his neck just beneath his Adam’s apple. La Vache Qui Rit spread upon Carr’s water crackers, hand-fed to a post-comatose 80 lb doll of dancing bones. And lilacs. Fresh lilacs! How could I forget the lilacs? They were everywhere, it seemed. To this day, their heady perfume makes me want to cry.

once there were two. (graphite on canvas. 2012. NFS)

I placed the parted lovers on another quantum plane. The need to do this was urgent: around their heads I painted light blue, for peace. I then left the garden for a cigarette and stayed away for the rest of the morning.

Far more painful than the careless slip of a paring knife was this traipse into a buried past, but one must do what one must do.  Life is short, and sometimes drastic measures are necessary to abide in peace.

I crept back into the garden, afraid to look, feeling like a voyeur. The man/boy’s profile? Perfect in its unscathed youth, gorgeous, that of an absolute David — it had been clandestinely gazed upon in his slumber so many times.  She had memorized every detail of his countenance, like a virtuoso without sheet music. In fact, he had grown irritated by the woman’s absent-minded habit of “staring at him” in public. He had gone so far as to call her “creepy”, when in fact, she was merely filing away the pixels of his aqualine profile to keep in the jewel box of her mind as a secret treasure. She knew he would be leaving.  Her memories were hers to keep.

Her lovers were not.

But back to the canvas at hand. The woman’s profile? Absolutely unrecognizable.  A veritable mess.  In fact, I am about to paint over it. White paint, titanium white. Pure white. Making sure the paintbrush is absolutely pristine, virgin.

In the space where her head should have been, eyes closed in reverie and love, I shall leave a blank space on the canvas.  I don’t know yet where she is going. I’m not sure I even know where her disappearing act has taken her. But this I know is true: it is into another more beautiful painting — with thicker paint, and more layers of light. I will be sure to use a better quality paint with higher permanency rating and a greater lightfastness in its colors. Most importantly, it will be a much bigger canvas, with heavy-duty stretcher bars and the finest quality linen, hand-stretched lovingly and stapled well.

Yes, indeed. I so love my paints. They always , without fail, treat me kindly.

And they always love me back, despite the fact that i am now very badly scarred and so, so far from perfect — physically or otherwise.




then there was one…

and then, there were two minus one = three, minus one.

thinking about getting close enough to say it to your face…

closer, still…

and the sweet virtual kiss goodbye that shall eternally turn the boy, whom I thought was my prince, back into a frog. Goodbye, lover…thank you for my son, but fare thee well.

JJC                     Long Island, New York  6.19.2012


Filed under art, diary, life, love

give me a reason to love you


“It appears my brain has been left behind in dreamtime,”
she said sleepily, to the empty house that held her like a baby bird.
The chimney swifts that had taken up residence in the flue of her fireplace
chirped their too-cheerful agreement.
She downed hot cup of Eight O’Clock French roast,  number three.
Immunity had set in to her last remaining vice.
Save for cigarettes.
Damned devil sticks were next on the list, but not just yet.
Tethers to this earthly plane, they were.  Veritable strings on a floaty red balloon.
A strange and lovely silent tsunami was rolling in.
Slowlyquickly, in stop motion, each second of the rolling monster
a separate sepia-colored print on faded and torn photo paper.
From a great distance, yes,
but the tide
was all-powerful nonetheless. She welcomed it, yearned for it,
arms open wide.
Anything to be engulfed. Anything.
She waited.   Painting, drawing, not sleeping, sleeping in fits, crying, listening to birds, painting, watching rabbits in the yard, feeding peanuts to squirrels, painting, missing the dead, crying, laughing, feeling too much.
Smoking, feeling nothing.  Then back. Bungee jumping of the  most uncomfortable yet beautiful kind. She waited until the bungee cord was stretched so far that she could see the tiny expressions on the carpenter ants’ shiny black faces, looks of shock and surprise at the giant human falling out of their sky.
Only then, THEN, she would snap back. BACKBACKBACK.  Sometimes it was almost too late.
A coma here, some morphine there, a miracle baby, a few teeth knocked out, a charred limb or two.
But snap back she did.
So far.

She anticipated the arrival of the silently roaring tidal wave with quiet yet barely suppressed joy.
Inside the breaking curl of salt and sea was the quantum plane she sought.
Timelessness. No-time. Dreamtime.

Snapping out of her reverie, she placed the empty coffee cup in the sink and glanced at her watch.
Glinting in the sunshine, the tiny gold numbers
suddenly made no sense to her.

Losing her mind was not something that frightened her any longer these days.
She half-assumed it was already long gone anyway.
Things were different now, though.
She was Somebody’s Mother.

“It’s all good. It’s all good. It’s all good….”

Without further thought, she changed into her camos and a flowered tank top, washed her face, and went outside to work.

She bent over her drafting table, sketching a small black cat.

“Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death…”
Maybe if she said this THAT MANY TIMES,
she and her son would be okay.
It worked in the big city at the convent, all alone.

If only she said it THAT MANY TIMES.

That many times that many times that many times.

Maybe it would work here too.

THE THINKER. 2007. Gouache on paper, 5×7. Sold. Collection Jackson Zimmerman, PA.

Just give me a reason to love you, and I will stay.  Better yet, give me a reason to love me.
JJC                           Cleveland, Ohio   6.04.2012


BAD KITTY II. 2008. Prismacolor on paper, 7×9.


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