Thursday, May 04, 2006

Flashbacks

It’s funny what you carry around with you: a scarred knee from a bicycle accident off the sting ray; a hurriedly-scratched phone number safe in your wallet where it will probably never see daylight; and laugh lines around the eyes....

August 1991: An outing. A Ch-46 flight into northern Iraq via the USS Nassau sitting in the Eastern Med. The next stop in the itinerary is Silopi, an expeditionary airfield technically in Turkey, but so close to the border that Dan Rather would claim he was reporting from Iraq. The war is technically over and the flight into Zahko is uneventful except for a nagging realization that the border landscape looks a lot like southern Idaho.
At the airfield in Zakho, off the main runway, but close enough to be in the prop wash, sits a Marine who has to be a reservist (because of the gray hair). Directly in front of him is a tripod easel. He is busy dabbing watercolor on thick paper. The Marine is Colonel P. M. Gish, a notable combat artist, and he is continuing his graphic depiction of combat Marines that began in SE Asia.

You don’t pick your call signs (nicknames) and you don’t choose your flashbacks....

August 1976: The weather in Jackson Hole is spelled “perfect summer” and the town is awash with people. There are the locals, who brave the economy even off-season, there are the “turkeys” (seriously affectionate term for the tourists), and there are those of us who come in while the nights are still chilly and stay on through Labor Day.
The town is also awash in art galleries. Most of the art is western art, depicting the traditional cowboy or the majestic landscape. Often one will find an old man, stationed in various locations around the town, sitting at a tripod easel, busy dabbing oil on canvas. My first sighting, I studied the canvas over his shoulder and immediately assessed him as a hack. The canvas was a mess of bright colors that made no sense, apparently random in their placement. And then I stepped back. The oils took on an almost photographic quality.

The man is Archie Teater (I had to ask Nancy [Stainbrook]). His resume is impressive and he is maybe one of the more famous to grace Jackson Hole. He had a year-round studio in Southern Idaho designed for him by Frank Lloyd Wright. His love seemed to be landscapes. His career spanned over fifty years, and we were able to glimpse the twilight years in 1976 as we’d come across him painting or view his work in his gallery just down the boardwalk from Dirty Jack’s Wild West theater.

Early in his career he studied in New York, and as a uniquely prolific painter, he capitalized on those settings, an absolute stark contrast to the Tetons of Wyoming. One of his paintings from that period was called simply “Central Park.”

As Bob Adams (the bass player) once said, “just play the damn song.”

One of our beloved cast members was John Dorish. John played the Indian against Jon Stainbrook’s Ben Rumson. John was the perfect straight man. In costume, no one would believe he hadn’t just left the reservation. He seemed to have the funniest lines—so much so, that as the summer went on, Jon and Kathy expanded his part. There was a shtick to counter Jon’s Pollock jokes about seeing a bug and being told to “squash it.” The line devolves into a misunderstanding between “squash it,” and “squaw shit,” and a tag line in the grunting verbals that became a trademark for Dorish of, “squaw shit?,” “ugh--no beetle.” Or the Indian who drank so much tea, he died in his own tea-pee. Stainbrook and Dorish would spin up the audience and those nights became the “long” performances.

Rumor among the band and cast was that John Dorish was a painter...

He is actually a quite successful artist.





We are hoping he wades into this site and shares some memories of Dirty Jack’s--
and maybe some flashbacks...