August 06, 2021

Mother Earth Aches—Tree Farts, Sea Snot and Missing Monarchs

Mother Earth usually starts her day with a good “tree fart.” 

This foul odor emanates from “ghost forests”

—dead trees along her coastal shores that give off carbon emissions. 

The rise in sea level caused by climate change is poisoning the soil with saltwater and leaving stands of rotting trees in its wake. Mother Earth is mourning her trees— their last toxic breath—another warning sign.

"Boundaries"  Pigment Print on Rag Paper

By mid-afternoon it’s time to unload her “sea snot”

—a nasty mucus-excreting organism (phytoplankton bloom) 

that has become a threat to her coastal flanks. 

Agriculture and sewage runoff are feeding the algae in her seas forming “sea snot,” a gelatinous blanket attracting viruses and bacteria that are taking over large bodies of water—polluting them, blocking out the sun, depleting oxygen, and suffocating coral and fish.

While sipping her evening cocktail, Mother Earth, with an aching sadness 

for her beloved missing Monarch butterflies, 

keeps asking—“where have they gone?” 

Climate change, pesticides, and habitat destruction have ravaged this once thriving population. Where once there were over 4 million Monarchs in 1980 there are now fewer than 2000—a drop of 99%. Mother Earth asks all of us to plant milkweed and pollinator-friendly native flowers, food for the monarch larvae in the hope that once again she can see and hear the flutter of golden wings.

Jeff Key's work can be seen at the Ruth Bancroft Garden through August 29th

Ruth Bancroft Garden1552 Bancroft Rd., Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Additional work can be seen at:  Sculpturesite Gallery:

Jeff Key— Website:

July 02, 2021

Patriotism—Whose Flag Is It?

There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious [individuals] are often mistaken for patriotism."Alexander Hamilton

"You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. 

Wrong is wrong no matter who says it."  —Malcolm X

As we observe the Fourth of July the question of how we define patriotism in America has become an ongoing debate and a source of division within the country. 

Whose beliefs are more patriotic—someone who carries the flag into the capital because they think the election was"stolen," someone who carries the flag to protest racism and injustice, or someone who kneels during the national anthem?

An old Saturday night live skit asked the question, Who is more macho? 

Today the question is—Who is more patriotic?

Is it someone like Michael Flynn, former US National Security Advisor, who appeared at a “For God and Country Patriotic Roundup,” suggesting that we call for the military to overthrow our democratically elected president, or is it someone like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who asks, “What’s more patriotic: fighting for the inclusion and rights of ‘more’ Americans, or working to exclude and marginalize fellow Americans based on their beliefs and identity.” 

"Vessel #18—Leeward"

The answers to these questions are open to each individual’s interpretation of patriotism—but on the Fourth of July—fly our flag for your beliefs, honor our freedom—but also recognize that our freedom is not perfect, and there are many among us who feel that they have been marginalized or denied justice. 

As Amanda Gorman so eloquently said in her Inauguration poem— 

"While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be. A country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce and free."


Jeff Key's work can be seen at:

For ticket information to the Ruth Bancroft Garden:

Additional work can be seen at:
Jeff Key Website:
Sculpturesite Gallery:

June 04, 2021

 Catch A Wave”—Summer 2021

We're waxin' down our surfboards. We can't wait for June. We’ll all be gone for the summer. We’re on surfari to stay.” —Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA 

                “We all have a wave in our life; and you learn to surf that wave to shore.”                                                                                     —Paul Theroux, author of “Under the Wave at Waimea”

As we enter the summer of 2021 the wave of the Covid-19 Pandemic is finally cresting. The tension of the past year ebbs and flows like the tides trying to placate a restless moon. 

We grab our boards and head for the beach hoping that the sun and surf will begin to heal our psychic and physical wounds. 

Can the sound of the ocean drown out the the anguish lingering in our heads from Covid-19, systemic racism, gun violence, insurrection, climate change, and the continual threat of raging fires?

For a few brief moments when the light hits the water and temporarily lifts the weight of the world off our shoulders, the summer sounds of the Beach Boys spin in our head as we catch a wave and sit on top of the world.”

For ticket information to the Ruth Bancroft Garden:

April 03, 2021

March Madness Becomes An April Fool

 "The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected."  —Will Rogers

“The wise talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.” –  Plato

They emerged from a swamp—lost in the belief that the world as they knew it was slipping through their fingers.

They marched into the Capitol dressed as shamans with horns, faces painted like America flags, armed with automatic weapons, chemical spray, clubs, and shields while chanting, “Stop the Steal,” and threatening to kill our elected legislators.

Standing right behind them, as incredulous as it might seem, were members of the House and Senate, and propping them up was the biggest fool of them all—an orange-haired buffoon spilling lies and drumming up fear.   

How did America, the pillar of the free world, become the land of 
collective delusion and bad dreams?

America has a history of following hucksters: from supernatural religious leaders, to conspiracy theorists, and now social media truth benders.

QAnon, a cabal of conspiracy theorists that the FBI has listed as a domestic terrorism threat, now boasts two members of Congress— Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who vows to “carry my Glock to Congress;” and Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) who believes that the California fires were started by PG&E using a space laser in order to clear room for a high-speed rail project.

No—the Covid-19 Pandemic was not a politically motivated hoax, 5G wireless broadband does not spread the virus, and Covid-vaccines do not harbor microchips that can monitor your actions.

Yes—Climate change is real, systemic racism is real, universal health care is a human right, and voting is a basic democratic right.

April Fools Day is over—it’s time to wake up—question what we see, hear, and read—and stop the disconnect from truth and reality.

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork:

February 19, 2021

President's Day—Celebrating Mortals   

                                        “Character is the tree, reputation is the shadow.”                                         —Abraham Lincoln,16th US President, 1809-1865 

                                     “Good wombs have borne bad sons.”                                                —William Shakespeare,The Tempest, 1610-11, (Act I, Scene 12)  

On February 15th we celebrated President’s Day. Originally established in 1885 to recognize George Washington’s birthday (February 22). In 1968 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act added Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) and permanently moved the holiday to a Monday so we could have a three-day weekend honoring all US presidents. 

 With the departure of arguably the worst president in US history and the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th US president, it’s a good time to pause and look at the office of the president and the standards we hold for the occupant of the White House.

In the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor America’s history of racism, injustice, and persecution against people of color came to the forefront of our consciousness and made us reconsider our honored heroes and how they conducted their lives. 

Were our revered presidents model citizens, or did they harbor traits that in today’s world would be considered not only contemptible—but criminal?

A number of US presidents were slave owners. Some harbored racist attitudes and made racist commentsPresidents have also been accused of corruption, while others were known to have engaged in sexual misconduct. 

Their names now grace monuments, buildings, airports, schools, streets, and US currency. Should their character flaws be enough for us to delete their namesake?

We need to teach our children that our presidents and leaders did great things, but like most mortals, they also had character flaws?

Having taken the day off to honor our presidents and the role of leadership, consider the words of former First Lady, Michelle Obama, “I’ve seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.”

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork:

January 22, 2021

Scherzo—First Steps Into The New Year

“If you look at a dancer in silence, his or her body will be the music. 

If you turn the music on, that body will become an extension of what you’re hearing.

—Judith Jamison (American Dancer and Choreographer—

Artistic Director Emerita—Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)

We danced in 2020 with high hopes for a new decade. Then the music stopped, we lost the beat, and the dance was over. Sheltered-in-place, rocked by injustice, and drowned out by a constant chorus of lies we shut down for the year.

2021 arrived with the attempted subversion of the electoral process followed by domestic terrorism in the US Capitol. The events of January 6 temporarily overshadowed Georgia turning blue, the rebalancing of the Senate, and the message of healing from the new administration in the White House. 

"Scherzo—First Steps Into The New Year"

Music can be heard once again in the distance. A new host of partners has arrived on the scene telling us that we can defeat Covid, justice and equity are possible, violence and mob rule will not be tolerated, access to clean air, water, and healthcare are basic human rights, and that truth and decency have returned.

"Vessel #91—Scherzo"     Wood & Flax,  42" x 33" x 27"

Replacing formality and pomposity with humor was the order of the day in the 17th Century. The French “Minuet,” an upbeat number, was soon followed by the Italian “Scherzo,” a light-hearted symphonic movement that got people up and dancing with abandon.

As the first notes of 2021 fill the air may laughter and optimism return as we put on our dancing shoes and take the first steps into a new year. 


Two oboes and a bassoon creep in with the nascent light,

waking the dreamer with a trio buzzing in her head.

Faster and more light-hearted than a minuet,

she chews on the tempo with her morning toast.

Each bite harmonizes with the chorus of birds

shaking off dawn to announce a new day.

Scrambled through branches a yolk-colored sun sets the beat—

One-two-three, one-two-three—the dance has begun.

(left)   "Vessel #84—Icehouse"    Wood & Flax, 42" x 18" x 4"
(right).  "Vessel #92—Locus"    Wood & Flax, 40" x 28" x 6"

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork:

December 18, 2020

A New Chapter—The Season of Light

          What the caterpillar calls the end—the rest of the world calls a butterfly.                   —Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 6th-Century, BC

Every once in a while The Book of Life needs to skip a chapter, learn from its mistakes, and move on…….2020 was one of those chapters. 

 As Charles Dickens wrote in his 1859 introduction to A Tale of Two Cities, a saga of the French Revolution, “It was the worst of times, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of darkness, it was the winter of despair.”

Words that framed 2020 need to be struck from our lexicon—excised from history—

Covid-19, Pandemic, Autocratic Rule, Deceit, Hubris, Hypocrisy, Economic Despair, Racial Injustice, Inequality, Voter Suppression, Hurricanes, Fires, Floods.

It’s time to write a new chapter—new words—new paragraphs—a new beginning. As 2021 unfolds we can once again look to Dickens for how to begin with the hope that we are entering “the age of wisdom, the epoch of belief, the season of light.”

To see more of Jeff Key's artwork check out: