It’s not for calling whales, that’s for sure. If it is, it doesn’t work. Because I’ve blown this whistle many times, and no whales ever showed up. So I take it’s purpose as being to call whales to mind. It is very good at making one think about whales, this black shiny carved whistle.
Here’s one of my favorites of my own paintings. With its being so unassuming, how shall I presuade you of its merits? I’m going to be completely immodest and talk about it as though someone else painted it. Otherwise, I’ll never get to its virtues and no one will understand what’s so wonderful about it.
The artist has hastily assembled some ordinary yet secretly meaningful objects, haphazardly arranged (however the artist is ignorant of what meanings lie hidden here). The bottle is transparent, yet the artist has taken few pains to tell it. The whale whistle is picturesque, yet it’s painted in simple, loosely stroked shades of black and gray. The deep red cloth has a few, quickly rendered folds. The little white milk pitcher is boldly out of proportion, but somehow it doesn’t matter.
It’s just a painting to like for its directness, its lack of presumption, for merely being the reminder of one day.
[Whale Whistle Still life by Aletha Kuschan]