Book Sales

CHANCE & CHOICE, chapbook of poems, cover art by Moonway, character in OPPRESSION FOR THE HEAVEN OF IT. Proceeds from author sales of both books go to Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. To order from author, email

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THE GREAT FLIPPED BLIP ~ on Art, Religion, & Politics

Probably like you, I get Facebook posts from Christian friends denouncing on Christian grounds the values and policies promoted by our president elect about all the most controversial issues of our time: the environment, taxes, jobs and the economy, interpretations of the 1st and 2nd amendments of the constitution, health care quality and accessibility, welfare, women’s reproductive rights, voting rights, workers rights, and many more. And I get posts from other Christian friends defending and promoting on Christian grounds the very same values and policies promoted by our president elect and reflected in his cabinet picks.

My son, Moonway in the book Oppression for the Heaven of It, was preoccupied in  his art with paradoxes and tensions inherent in his Christian faith: responsibility for evil and suffering; the relationship between Christ and Satan; angels and demons; Adam, Eve, and the serpent. A youthful convert, he painted the suffering Christ with blood pouring from his heart. He painted Christ wearing the crown of thorns, a halo beaming out of the back of his head. He painted repeated images of Christ with one side of his face in light, the other in shadow and often broken. He painted a disembodied head of Christ with blank white disks where eyes should have been, head bent downward toward 3 diminutive crosses on a diminutive hill. He drew impressionist Christs, cubist Christs, charcoal Christs, ghostly Christs. He drew Christ surrounded by demons in cages.  He drew many demons, many of them labeled “Dragons of Madness.” He drew Adam and a snake-like Eve dancing with the serpent; this one became a cover on a forthcoming chapbook of poems.

He painted lovely serpent couples rising out of water, posed as if dancing in a courtship ritual:

He said William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven & Hell was his favorite art work and, “There can be no peace on earth until Christ and Satan reconcile.” Once in a letter, he wrote me, “Take the best they gave you in love and support, and leave the rest to the devil to carry away into hell or wherever he does the dirty work of God who I often call the Great Flipped Blip.”

Moonway was never really comfortable in his Christianity. He loved the passion and fellowship he found in his early years in the church, but he yearned for resolution and reconciliation of the contradictions. He also yearned for the certainty he thought he saw in other Christians. Not finding it, he sought his own theology that grew increasingly strange to other parishioners, and he eventually drifted away from the church and turned increasingly to art, drawing and painting his discomfort in symbolic images by which his schizophrenic mind tried to make sense of a real world striven with the same kinds of paradoxes, contradictions, and conflicts of his faith.

I remember presidents back to the time of Franklin Roosevelt. I remember  partisan conflicts of the MCarthy era during Eisenhower’s time. I remember the Kennedy and Johnson sixties with revolutionary activity for social justice. I remember Nixon’s Watergate. I remember all the international conflicts of those times and our own.  Watching the PBS series From Jesus to Christ, I remember that Christianity itself proceeded throughout its history riddled by and feeding into the same kind of conflict and division we see in our political life today.

For how to live with others, I take Jesus to be an important moral guide in the world and in my life but I am not a believer in Christianity. Moonway often said to me about his hallucinations, Mom, I wish you would believe this is real. I think he was a Christian believer like he believed in the reality of everything he saw in his mind and art. But he never asked me to believe in his faith. We talked often and peacefully about how to practice what Christ taught: Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless. Love your neighbor, and your enemy.

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422 Main Street, Presque Isle, Maine


including work not previously displayed in public.

Reception: First Friday Art Walk, December 2, 5:00 to 9:00

  Music & light refreshments. 

7:15 to 8:00, Alice Bolstridge  

will read and discuss writing about art 

including poems from her forthcoming book, 


Silent auction of art work until December 21.

Profits from sales of art and the book 

Oppression for the Heaven of It 

will be donated to 

The Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care

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Gallery Talk at Wintergreen Arts Center May 6, 2016

Thank you all for being here: Family and Friends. Wintergreen. Martha Grant and the PIBQ. All my encouraging FB friends. In Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud says, ‘It is rather the rule than the exception for the past to be preserved in mental life.’ Alan’s art suggests to me endless interpretations about how his character was affected and formed by past traumatic events and in the interplay between disabilities from his illness and his artistic abilities.

My concerns about Alan’s mental and emotional health started when he was very young. At 4 years old, he was diagnosed with nephritis, a kidney disease. He was hospitalized several times over the next 2 years and treated continuously with steroid drugs. The last time he was hospitalized, he was not expected to live, and they tried an experimental treatment, painful injections of albumin into his veins that required a large needle. This treatment worked and he recovered. The steroid treatment continued for another 2 years until he was pronounced cured from the nephritis at 8 years old. The hospital experience was very traumatic for him and for the whole family. Even his pediatrician would get wet with sweat from the strain and tension of injecting a struggling 6-year old while I held him down.

The treatment saved his life. But during this time, I noticed a change in him from an outgoing cheerful little boy to a withdrawn, fearful child which showed in his art even at that young age. Before his illness he loved making colorful pictures with smiling faces and lots of sunshine. By the end of the treatment he was drawing frightful monsters in black and white. I spoke to his pediatrician about my concern for his emotional health. He shrugged off my concern, said, “Kids change as they grow. Just be glad for his recovery from the nephritis.”

No one knows with any scientific certainty what causes mental illness. My family has a history of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, so there is quite likely a genetic predisposition. But Alan’s early trauma certainly affected his sense of himself for all of his life. He often asked questions about it, and he would say, “You don’t believe me Mom, but I know I died back then, went to Heaven, went to Hell.

I recently read a novel in which a character isAbstract self
described as having a moon face and drawing
wavy lines on paper. I immediately thought of
Alan’s self portrait with wavy lines over his
abstract face. The moon face he often expressed
in his art is literally tied with that nephritis
experience. The steroids gave him a pronounced moon face, and for the first time I made the connection between his moon face in
many of his SP in YellowGreenself-portraits and one of his most consistent  aliases for himself. He often signed his name on letters as Moonway. We gave that
name to the character in the book which he and I
collaborated on, and which is for sale here,
Oppression for the Heaven of It.

Another image which recalls his early Nursehospital time is the Nurse in Red Cross colors in foreground with self in background, and the large hypodermic needle. Needles remained a dreaded preoccupation throughout his adult life.

His early monsters morphed into a lifelong preoccupation in his art with demons, serpents and dragons. He never lost his love of color, though,
and he eventually integrated his demons into his colorful worlds. His splashes of color in the Abstracts & Fantasies are crowded with people and creatures, and they reflect tensions with Family, Community, and Cultural values and Expectations. “Feminist Alchemist Seducer& her
Feminist SeducerFamily” and “Woman in Green with Religious Figure in Front” remind me of his disturbance at times by my lack of religious belief: the woman in green might be me with my sometimes big curly hair back in the 70s. He would often say about our religious or political differences, “I wish you would believe me, Mom.”
Woman in Green

In his art and in his life he was conflicted about Vampire Couple
couples’ relationships as in the “Couple in Black,
White, and Red.” Is that a vampire image?

In Western Lapland, they practice a therapy they call open-dialogue which has proved very successful as measured against American medicalized treatment. In this therapy, they believe psychosis arises from severely frayed social relationships. A psychiatrist there, Tapio Salo says, “Psychosis lives in the in-between of family members, and in the in-between of people. It is in the relationship, and the one who is psychotic makes the bad condition visible. He or she ‘wears the symptoms and has the burden to carry them.”
Families are the primal unit of all cultures and the first purveyors of cultural values and expectations that Alan often found too burdensome and contradictory to live up to. I suspect we all experience these tensions in our relationships, but those of us thought to be sane find a way to function and carry on the work of our civilization. People with serious and chronic mental illnesses are said to be dysfunctional; that is in large part how they are diagnosed.

Many of these pictures might suggest chaotic disorder at first glance, but the more I study them and remember him, the more I believe he used his art for trying to work through the disorder in his mind. He often said about problems and tensions he felt, “I have to work it out.”

Mary withDragons

Sketches in one of the folders labeled Dragons of Madness indicate his preoccupation with good and evil. He tried to reconcile the contradictions in a kind of personal theology such as “Mary with Sword Confronting Dragons.”

Cross on Hill
In this landscape, is Christ carrying Alan before
he climbs to the cross? Or is Alan carrying
Christ from the cross, He did have delusions of grandeur, and he saw himself at times as some kind of divine savior.

In his art and writing, Alan tried to develop a grand unified theory of everything like the physicists and religious leaders in all faiths attempt. Alan declared, “Buddha unites” (in “The Feminist Alchemist . . .”above) . On a portrait in one of the folders he wrote, “The abolition of war leaves the arts free to unite the classical with the modern. The unity of the cosmos consists not in law but rather in grace, mercy, and love.” He believed Christ and Satan had to reconcile for there to be peace on earth, and he often referred to the poet William Blake’s, “The Marriage of Heaven & Hell.”

Pin Snake couple

The pink serpent couple is to me an image of relationship harmony.
Alan called his creature with the bug eyes on antennae Speam.

Speam& Dragon @road to Heaven

Pictured here a benign looking dragon offers a rose to Speam,  one of the many demonic creatures in his art.They are both at the bottom of stepping stones leading to Heaven. I think this is a good image to end this talk.

Do you have questions, observations, interpretations, or stories about his life you would like to share?

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Art Show Event

Celebrating the Life and Art of Alan Mountain, 1956-2015
Alan Mountain aka Moonway in Oppression for the Heaven of It


Wintergreen Arts Center in the Barresi Gallery

149 State St., Presque Isle, in May, Mental Health Awareness Month

Reception: Friday, May 6, 2016, 6:00 to 8:00 PM


 Light Refreshments Served

 All proceeds from sales to be divided equally between
Wintergreen Arts Center & Catholic

Music by PIBQ

Wintergreen flyer


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Letter to Health and Human Services Committee at the State Legislature

My son, diagnosed with serious and chronic mental illness since 1976, died July 10, 2015. I write this to do what I can to honor his life by advocating for improved quality of care for the mentally ill and to beg you to provide some kind of legislative fix for the impossibly dysfunctional DHHS system of care.

The quality of my son’s care was never sufficient to meet his needs, and it became increasingly more difficult to find adequate care as time went on because the system became increasingly inadequate, complex, cumbersome, and expensive. He had a limited guardianship from DHHS during the 1990s and early 2000s which provided financial services and some help with obtaining other needed services. DHHS dropped this guardianship, and I gradually took over more and more responsibility for his care. To provide stable housing I bought him a home which I had to manage. I did a lot of case management trying to obtain needed services, even when he had assigned case management services. I became his representative payee. Last spring, some health problems made my responsibility for his care increasingly burdensome, and I begged for additional services to take over what I was doing and for DHHS to resume limited guardianship.

This patient’s family and his advocate were told that he couldn’t get more units of CIS (Community Integration Specialist) time to fill in for some of the services I could no longer provide because what was requested was not appropriate for his care. they said he needed an ACT team. I had messages from DHHS (Field Service Manager Region 3, Office of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services) that explain why ACT is not available here—too expensive, not “cost effective.” The patient was in a “catch 22” situation in terms of getting effective services for his needs. On the one hand DHHS said he didn’t need any kind of guardian because he could get the services he needed. On the other hand DHHS said he couldn’t get the services he needed, ie. neither an ACT team, nor added units of CIS time.

The patient’s need of housekeeping and personal hygiene services is just one example of the complexity, inefficiency, cost ineffectiveness, and ultimate incompetence of this whole system of care. The system pays a case management agency, Life by Design, to pay a Community Integration Specialist who coordinates with another agency, Goold Assessment (paid by the system), which approves a personal services specialist (PSS). CIS then coordinates with another agency paid by the system, Elder Independence of Maine, which hires another agency paid by the system, Comforting Choices, which finally hires a personal services specialist when they can find one—4 different agencies with their associated administrative costs getting paid to find one provider of direct patient care. And I ended up doing most of that care myself; the PSS seldom lasted longer than a few weeks because (at least in part) the workers are woefully underpaid which is relevant to the difficulty of maintaining quality services. The workers in the system who spend the most time providing direct patient care are the lowest paid in the system. A PSS worker was just one need that he had been approved for. He had multiple other needs, some of them not approved for, that were not being met either because they were denied or because it became increasingly difficult to obtain competent and consistent providers. It became significantly more difficult as years went by to provide for his needs even as multiple systems were being paid to provide them.

In this system patients are as much victims of the system as of their illness. At this time, I am not directing this criticism at any individuals working in the system, though I may at some point feel the need to do that. But I strongly suspect that most individual workers in this system are victims, too, especially the workers who provide the most direct patient care.

My son’s case is not unique. There is ample evidence that the system of care for the mentally ill is expensive, dysfunctional, and frequently ends up making the patient more ill, disabled, and unhappy. It is a state and national disgrace that most patients with serious and chronic mental illness never get the care they need, end up homeless or housed in jail, and become an increasing economic and social burden to families and communities. See Frontline shows at Our own Maine is featured in one of them.

This system has proved itself to be incapable of improving and correcting itself. It is not cost effective for taxpayers, nor effective in providing for patient needs. It needs to be rooted out and replaced with competent ACT teams everywhere in Maine or with something else that works. Legislative action is the only remedy I can see. Please fix this dysfunctional system.

I look forward to hearing from you about this important issue.

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A Facebook comment on a post about “Oppression for the Heaven of It.”

from Bob Colgan: “Loved reading the forward ! A most insightful book——about as politically incorrect as they come. A brave work.”

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