I was working on a drawing I had planned many months before, of a deer skull and antlers that my father once gave me. It was the skull of a deer that I helped him dress and skin many years ago, one of the largest he ever encountered.
A friend had been asking about my fascination with antlers, why I like and collect them when I am not really a hunter in practice. My friend wanted to understand what the appeal was. I had never really thought it through before, but as I put together my answer for him it felt worth writing down.
Apart from the fact that I love the lines and forms that antlers make from different angles, I find them compelling emotionally because they grew from the very body of a magnificent creature, long since dead. They are like a crown - though one generated by and sprouting from the very nature of the being itself, made of his essential substance and energy. Not a crown bestowed from without, but extruded from, indeed a picture of, his inner life and essence.
Dry, dead antlers on the forest floor (or on the wall above my fireplace) are the remnants of glory that remain after the demise of a beautiful, majestic being. They outlast him, and are a testament to all that he was, and attained.
The drawing I was working on was planned long ago, for all of these reasons. But it took on new meaning for me with the sudden passing of my brother Troy that year, a few weeks before I finished it.
I ended up titling it 1965-2013.