Melchior Diaz. The story of a man killed by a dog, a greyhound to be exact. The year, 1542. Melchior sets off west across the evil desert of death with twenty-five rejects from the army of Coronado (retreating south after the Death of the Moor) to meet up with Alarcon at the gulf of the Colorado. It’s winter, so presumably they took advantage of what little water is ever in the Cabeza and reached the Colorado, called the Firebrand. They meet giant Yumans, they presumably cross the great river and get to the Imperial Valley in California before turning around and fleeing East. They come to burning ground and heaving and smoking. A greyhound owned by one of the soldiers chases the herd of sheep that’s with them and Melchior, on horseback, at full speed, hurls a lance at the greyhound. It sticks in the desert and Melchior goes right into it, the horse being unable to stop in time. The back end of the spear punctures the conquistador bladder and the soldiers, fighting Yumans and probably Seri and maybe O’odhams all the way, carry him for twenty days until he dies.
Did they kill him and bury him somewhere near our Designer Border? Is he still there? Oona often paints the Ajo Mountains when we’re camped at Lone Ranger National Monument. One of the odd mountains in this painting is named Diaz Spire. Is the old dead Spaniard still out there?
The greyhound probably made it to Acapulco and his descendants are probably still there, racing probably, wearing tropical shorts and sunglasses and para-sailing or some damn thing. Doing the Macarena, probably.
Melchior is dust, one way or another.
The discovery of a relative, relatively speaking
Last night, I discovered that my great-uncle, Charles Percy Austin, whom I had known was an artist, is in fact a minor part of the southern california Arts and Crafts movement, he being one of the founders of the Laguna Beach Art Association and the inheritor (or purchaser) of the Granville Redmond Studio. Whether this studio was an imaginary phenomenon, whether it was the studio supposedly established for Redmond by Charlie himself at the Chaplin Studios in Hollywood or whether it was in Santa Monica, where I have an address on Hill St. for Austin, I do not know. His paintings, such as I have seen, are pretty unremarkable. He is said to have lived for a time – or at least to have been a frequent visitor – at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, from whence the sparrows come and go, and he painted a picture in California Plein Aire (have I got that right?) style of a Mary Pickford wedding at the Mission. I’ll go find it on the web and post it up here and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Somewhere in my dad’s effects, I’ve got a picture of Charles Percy in black and white with his dancer wife in front of a very Arts and Crafts looking bungalow. Could this be the Granville Redmond studio?
His paintings seem to sell in the two to three thousand dollar range. Granville’s paintings seem to be up in the half million area. Granville was entirely deaf, and, like Charles P., schooled in Paris. I have one of Charles Percy’s paintings, pretty small. My dad was a reticent, angry man who seemed entirely estranged from his family. I never met my grandfather, much less Great-Uncle Chuckie P. My aged mother only remembers that he painted a series of paintings that were displayed on cardboard display advertising in drug stores of the forties portraying the history of Pharmacy, or something like it. He died in ’48, the year the Blonde Bombshell is born, the year I remember my dad bringing home commemorative coins celebrating the centennial of the State of California.
Who is this guy, Charles Percy Austin?
Posted by Phil Austin on 7/9/02; 7:24:06 PM
from the The Department of Mysteries dept.