Election Day


House of Fire, James Rosenquist, 1981

House of Fire, James Rosenquist, 1981

Today (Thank, God!) is Election Day and Anne got up this morning at uh-oh dark-thirty, because while most of us consider that doing our civic duty is to simply just vote, she feels the need to go that extra mile. Today, she is an Election Official, a poll worker in the vernacular, the Democratic supervisor at the polling place where she is working. She will put in a 15+ hour workday. On Sunday, while I was out bicycling, she was inside studying her election manual, getting ready for today. The Saint Louis Election Commission is introducing a new iPad based voter sign-in system today, replacing the traditional hardcopy one. Anne got in today even earlier than normal, just to have extra time to set that new system up. There will be no “rigging” of the election under her watch. By contrast my day was much more laid back. I voted this morning and then I got my “l Voted Today!” sticker, but while I was waiting in line to vote (It took only about twenty minutes), the guy who was standing in line behind me already had his I Voted sticker on. I left the polling place wondering a little whether or not I should be worried about that, but in the end decided that it was nothing. I was just being overly sensitive. In the afternoon, I had to run an extension cord and plug strip over to Anne’s polling place, because of an electrical problem with one of their voting machines. Now and for most of the day, I’ve tried to stay busy, so that the hours pass quickly, the polls close and then when Anne comes home again, we can watch the election returns come in tonight together.

Trained as a billboard painter, Rosenquist created this large-scale, lavishly composed work of Pop art. House of Fire exudes the dynamism and sensuous polish that have characterized his work since the sixties. In this allegorical triptych, prosaic objects become strangely treacherous: a grocery bag is mysteriously suspended upside-down, a supernaturally radiant bucket of molten steel descends through a window, and fiery lipsticks align like a battery of guns. These allusions to violence, sex, and consumerism produce a heightened sense of seduction and danger. After this torturous election season, with all of its import, the anxiety embodied in this painting typifies the way I feel tonight.

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