about the author

and artist

Stephen Silke is a San Diego native, working toward his MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. His work has been previously published in Carnival, Intellectual Refuge, Le Scat Noir, and Portland Review.

Andrew Stovesand has a graduate degree in Media Arts and Animation from The Art Institute of Santa Ana. He has been animating and illustrating since he graduated school in 2007 and loves bringing things to life, whether that is through computer animation, painting, or digital illustration.

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An Artist Prepares

Stephen Silke

Illustration by Andrew Stovesand

One pushes a barrow.

One holds a spade.

One swings a lantern.

One is idle.

His feet are crossed.

He holds a pipe.

There is no shame.

Secure the bid.

Compose the bill.

Sketch the aim.

Think of the myth—the origins.

Big feet if the figure stands.

Maddeningly small ones, if reclining.

Swiss or German?

No one knows.

Hump the clay.

Slouch the posture.

Red hats like fly-agarics.

They are mute.

Hide in plain sight.

Their implements vary.


They wield the weed and blow.

Scar the lump.

Cut the line.

Cut the line.

Cut the line.

Hollow the body.

Pop the art.


Trim the lines.

Full the shape.

Empty the mold.

Pour the sand.

Cleave the mold.

Wipe the form.

Let it set.

Trim the line of the cleft of the ear.

Wield the weed and blow.

Mix the glaze.

More the ochre.

Sodden the top.

Sop the front.

Sop the back.

Sop the sides.

Sop the bottom.

Wash the hands.

Wield the weed and blow.

Whimsy the form.

Twinkle the eye.

Stow the brush.

Wash the hands.

Cloth on the rack.

Wait for the set.

Cast the figure.

Fire the kiln.

Void the sand.

Fill the void.

Wipe the mold.

Wash the hands.

On the fan.

Set them around.

Gwee takes the photos.


Stack and tie.

Stack and tie.

Stack and tie.

Stack and tie and phone the call and post the post.

Don the suit.

Heft the forms.

And the duffels are in the van.

On the road.

The van is on the road.

The road is in the mirror.

And then here we are.

And the schlepping.

And then these.

And then these.

And then these.

And then the notes are in the duffels.

And the duffels are in the hands.

And again the schlepping.

And, transact.

And again the van.

The van is on the road.

Count the notes.

Count the notes.

Count the notes.

Count the notes.

Count the notes.

And the beach.

And the watching of the sun.

And the waves.

And the feeling of the breeze and the sand and the band plays.

And the notes are in the duffels.

So then they all arrive, and the sand, and there are the unspent notes.

So then they all come out and talk.

And whatnot.

And again the schlepping and then the notes.

And again we transact.

And the notes are in the fire.

And the notes are in the fire and Gwee on the camera.

And to make something of millions.

Millions of times.


And then the spectacle dims.

And then it is dark.

Wield the weed and blow.

And the fire and the breathing again.

And then millions are in the fires and millions of burnings.

And it is burning time. And then the burning increases. And it is spectacle.

Because the center of the heart is off.

And the hat slouches to the side.

And in the endless notes and the endless hours of crafting there are endless rings of fire and ash.

Until the end.

And we are all notes in the fire.

And are we not all fire in the ring?

And do we care?

And the spades and the buckets and the fire and the ash of it.

And the kilns and the presses and the clay and the ink and the photographs and the lines of it.

And the currency.

And the manacles of it.

So that the concept of the notes ends, perhaps.

So that the train can run without the rails of it.

And then it goes as it goes for hours.

Wield the weed and blow.

And there are hours to go and there is twinkling and then the settling in for the burning of it.

But then the surprise of it—it of the fuzz—and my hands are in the air.

And my hands are in the air.

And my hands are in the air and my hands—

                             Artist Clete Twombly Apprehended

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA—Sculptor and performance artist “‘Clete” Twombly was captured Saturday by F.B.I. agents for destroying millions of one dollar U.S. promissory notes.

Clete Twombly

At was what billed as a 24-hour “happening” the artist hosted a bacchanal on a semi-private beach in Santa Monica. A calypso band played as attendees were ushered to 36 bonfire rings—each with a private bar—all scattered about the beach. Hundreds of duffel bags were distributed. The bags, filled with one dollar bills, were meant to be burned in the bonfires. Millions of bills kept the bonfires ablaze throughout seven hours of debauchery.

Authorities were tipped off when drunk drivers, some high on marijuana, caused accidents on various beach access roads. Many of the drivers emerged from their cars with pockets stuffed with one dollar bank notes. After responding to multiple accidents, police engaged in extended questioning, leading to a raid on Twombly’s beach party.

The artist’s notoriety has grown in the last few months. Art historian Geomondus Artaud of The Royal College of Art, London, explained that the intention of the project was to “incinerate any and every piece of paper currency [indecipherable] could attain.” When Artaud was pressed to explicate the project’s meaning, he pressed fast his hair to his head and suggested a cursory course on art history. “Those already inclined toward disinterest in art should deign not press the question.”

Twombly’s career includes decidedly opaque high-concept work. Early pieces centered around the implications of acoustic resonance. His 1988 piece Reflect was an installation at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, where hundreds of cubic meters of Jell-O quivered from contact with sound waves generated by Czech political dissident Václav Havel’s 1990 speech “We Live in a Contaminated Moral Environment.” Video footage of the work was broadcast simultaneously on 2,323 public-access television stations internationally on January 7, 1990, one week after Havel’s speech. Twombly warned that the post-speech Jell-O was poison and should not be sold, curated, donated to charity, or even fed to the homeless. It was destroyed in incinerators.

His breakthrough work was a collaboration with the audio artist Murke, where the two artists recorded silences produced by the infantile children of celebrities, such as a swaddled baby turning over in his sleep, the quiet of a baby exhaling while suckling at mother’s breast, and the pause when a crawling toddler turns her head to reorient. The work was done guerilla-style—without the permission of famous parents such as Princess Diana of Wales, Norman Mailer, Bob Marley, Annie Leibovitz, Margaret Thatcher, and Prince. The genesis of Murke’s work has been memorialized in Heinrich Böll’s 1966 story “Murke’s Collected Silences.” Twombly and Murke settled civil suits with each celebrity out of court and were acquitted on a variety of other charges due to idiosyncrasies in parody law. Murke went missing in 1996, and is unavailable for comment.

Twombly spent six seminal years in the 1970s studying the applied arts at New York’s The Blentner Academy, more famously known as TBA, where he never took a degree. There he made lifelong contacts in art circles and befriended an extensive list of patrons.

His money-burning beach bonfire event was the culmination of a seven-year-long currency-defacement performance art piece that has reportedly left Twombly bankrupt and alienated from his patrons, many of whom financed the work. Authorities are also investigating his Ojai, California, creative warehouse that became the largest garden gnome production facility in the world, where large quantities of handcrafted terracotta statuary were sold on a strictly cash-and-carry basis.

Police have estimated that upwards of 3.5 million one dollar promissory notes were destroyed at the April 29 beach party, and between 40 and 60 million dollars of various U.S. currency denominations have allegedly been immolated by way of Twombly’s work. Also detained for questioning is Twombly’s Latvian assistant, Gwee Zed. The artist’s bail has been set at $100,000.



                                   ///TRANSCRIPTION BEGINS///

There sits a self-powered high-fidelity speaker pointed at a closed door. This is in a hallway within the residential wing of a building that looks like a vacation resort, but is surrounded by guard towers and barbed wire. On the top of the high-fidelity speaker there is a bright green diode emitting light. The light indicates that the speaker is broadcasting.

The speaker is pointed at the door.

A man wearing a white robe and slippers opens the door. The man is alone in his room. He is the aesthete, ‘Clete Twombly.

The aesthete positions himself on the floor horizontally. He puts his ear to the self-contained high-fidelity speaker. He listens to what sounds like nothing.

He stands and takes the speaker into his room, closing the door behind him. There is a heart-shaped badge attached to the back of the self-powered high-fidelity speaker with anti-static tape. The badge looks something like a sacred heart. The words I prayed for you at St. James Church are printed upon it.

The aesthete walks to his closet and opens the door, removing a houndstooth jacket. He takes the sacred heart and attaches it to the lapel of the jacket, then returns the jacket to the closet.

The aesthete positions the speaker on a dining table and then sits in his armchair facing a sliding glass door at the far end of the room. Beyond the glass door is a cement deck and a swimming pool. Other prisoners are engaged in conversation, calisthenics, bocce ball. Beyond the yard is a tall fence topped with barbed wire. Beyond the fence is the flat desert floor. Waves of light shimmer as heat reflects into the empty expanse.

The aesthete whispers the name “Murke.”

                                   ///END OF TRANSCRIPTION///

—and I can see that it comes.

I can see that it is maybe not good that it comes. But I can see.

And it is in the coming where the fear is.

And it is in me, the fear. It is.

And the coming of it is not synthetic, it is in real time, the coming is, no lie.

And I am starting anew in the coming, and the going, and the starting, and the stopping of it.

And the opposites are at odds.

And I can see it as coming, though I was so nearly stopping. But not.

And I am beyond me stopping. I am moving fast and far away from stopping. I’m moving on. And then.


And then there is the bracing for what is coming, and the possible impact, and the possibility of it, and the possible end of the stopping. And there is in the silence the possibility that it contains everything.

And now there is the preparation in the quiet for the working and the making and the preparing.

And the hoping.

And the hoping that it will not stop—that something will come next. And—

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