Coso Stoics

Coso StoicsPhineas and Sukey Smith take a breather at “Coso Stoics,” the artwork of Don McCauley which decorates a utility box on the corner of Downs and Drummond. McCauley’s creations can be seen all over town, incorporating influences of the historic rock art left by the early inhabitants of our valley. However, McCauley notes the story behind this one is a little different from the others. “My daughter and son-in-law and family lived on nearby Cimarron Court, and their last name is farmer,” he told the News Review. “Early in the project in 2015 they wondered if I could paint something related to farming for that location” — something he always takes under consideration when deciding on a viewpoint for his work. Grant Wood’s iconic “American Gothic” was one of the first visions that popped into his head. “But I discounted it, and puzzled what to do for the duration of the project.” Wood’s famous image came back to McCauley’s mind when he saw one of the fork-like tools held by an anthropomorphic petroglyph image. “I said, ‘let me see what I can do with it,’” said McCauley. “I credit Grant Wood with the composition for all to see, and think he and the spirits of our ancient Coso paleo natives would understand its meaning and smile.” For the backstory for his “Coso Stoics,” McCauley imagines that “living as one with Nature for thousands of years, the Neolithic Coso likely share strains of Stoicism — here depicted in graphic composition metaphor after the representational art of midwestern farmers … Wood intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values — an image of reassurance at a time of great dislocation and disillusionment. The man and woman, in their solid and well-crafted world, with all their strengths and weaknesses, represent survivors.” Editorial note: as the interaction of our community has changed in recent months, so have the methods of gathering and reporting on human interest features. We are thankful to live in a community where pulling on one thread can yield so many stories of the heroes and contributors who live here. Thank you to all who have voiced perspectives and experiences based on these reports. We look forward to hearing more.

Story First Published: 2020-05-08