The M.A.D. House Artists (Mom And Dad)

Grand Lake Artistic Chaos Foundation

John Tracy Ringland


Mr. Ringland is a world traveler, and he didn't wait to begin. In High school John went to Honduras for an exchange and to Thailand for a year with the American Field Service. The Black and white photo is in Thailand, the color photo is (ahem) some years later, in the United States. The tiny flower was sent in an Aerogram. He even managed to send Mom flowers from Thailand. There was a price to pay for all that traveling, in resistant strains of exotic bugs...

When Mom went to college all her friends made entries into what has become her favorite cookbook, but the initial entries were poetry and art. There are several entries from our Artist Of The Month, Mr. Ringland, as they were fond companions and there was the book...


And every time the group of friends got together during college, too.



This is what John was doing in class instead of the classwork at Westchester High School in 1972-73...


Fortunately for everyone concerned, American Field Service scooped him up and sent him to Thailand before things got any worse. These Aerograms are a small sampling of the more than 150 exchanged with Mom over the course of his year in Thailand.

The acquisition of water color pencils was a big improvement on an already well developed talent.



Here is a rare aerogram printed on the paper and cut straight so that it was possible to fold it and seal it without anxiety. (Hence the New Improved moniker.) The number of crooked aerograms was forever a source of irritation to the artist.




There is no way to convey how much Mom came to rely on these missiles for her peace of mind at college. She and Johnny reflected on philosophy and religion, interpersonal relations, language, art and everything. Inside each of these tri-fold single-sheet letters is about ten pages of finely written text, microscope worthy. No wonder mom is wearing tri-focals now...

There is one of these in our house still. The original one that John brought from Thailand in 1973 was left in New Jersey in an hasty move years later in June of 1987, but as soon as another was located it was installed. In fact, there are two now.



This is a rather amazing Rendering of the Stephens College Chapel and the text of the Dean's 1973 'Welcome to Campus' letter, as it is written on an Aerogram and sent from Thailand. Where did he ever get the original?


Here, years before Mom became a professional Bharatha Natyam Dancer, Johnny went to a 1973 concert in Chiang Mai and was as impressed as Mom had been when she wandered into the Stephens Dance Studio the first day of school in 1972 and encountered Nala Najan practicing (with his ever present cigarette in his hand...)

This is the temple next to the home on Rajdamnern Road where American Field Service sent John to live in Chiang Mai. The artist has written some self-deprecating comments in the margin, but the image is splendid.


Another page from the book, drawn in 1972, and a letter from John at college in 1975 after he matriculated at Duke. The theme seems to be related.







And then there was college -- Duke for John, and Stephens for Mom



And the last drawing sent to Mom:


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