In the summer of 1982, the Denver Art Museum put out a cartoon like sculpture by the artist Red Grooms. It was a rather large piece depicting a covered wagon with a protruding cowboy arm shooting a revolver with bullets shooting out suspended in the air. Opposite the cowboy arm was an Indian arm shooting with a bow and arrows at the cowboy. It was cute, funny, cartoony and clever. It was also offensive. At least to the Native American community. Demonstrations and complaints arose both pro and con. The odd thing to me was that if this had been the sixties, there would no doubt have been unity and mutual support of the raciest element in the piece from both the art students and the Indian community. Not this time. The art students were on the side of the institution and stood against the anti-racism factions. It got pretty nasty.
At that time my best friend was a man named Tony Shearer. This was the man who created the entire Aztec Calendar end of the World controversy that swept the world from the 1987 convergence to the Mayan end date of 2012. And yet very few are aware of this. Where Tony went magic happened. Not tricks but real magic which I will write about in due time. Tony was well known by both the students of the University of Colorado in Denver (UCD) and the Native American Community. When the demonstrations were happening, Tony was asked to talk to the group by his friend Frank Black Elk. Frank was the great grandson of the legendary Medicine Man Black Elk of Black Elk Speaks and the leader of the Native American community. He was also the leader of the demonstrations. Tony got up and made his usual remarkable speech and ended it with the outrageous statement, “If they don't remove that thing I'm going to paint it black!” That statement upset a lot of people especially the Skinheads and the Neo-Nazis. Tony started getting death threats. One time he was followed then chased in his car by Skinheads through downtown Denver. He was receiving nasty threatening phone calls. Tony started sleeping with a gun under his pillow. I never saw this normally joyous man so paranoid and I was afraid for him even though he always assured me everything would be alright.
I was still worried when Arlette and I took a little trip to her folk's cabin near Conifer on the North Fork of the South Platte River. I don't remember the exact date of this occurrence but I do know it was early summer. It was warm and sunny but my concern for Tony overshadowed my attention. After we got there we walked over to the suspension bridge not far from the cabin. We crossed over to the other side of the river and looked for a place to sit and look at the river. We found a nice spot and Arlette sat down but I was so agitated I was pacing up and down. We were in a sort of a clearing about ten to twenty yards from the trees and the river was very noisy because of the rocky section of the river. I had to talk very loud so Arlette could hear me.
She was sitting there looking up at me when I looked down at her and said, “Is a rose by any other name still rose?”