Captain Kangaroo and the Dancing Bear, 2005 Oil on linen 52 × 42 inches
Captain Kangaroo and the Dancing Bear, 2005
Oil on linen 52 × 42 inches

I found all these photos in a thrift store in Lake Elsinore, California from a portfolio of a Hungarian-born actor named Janos Prohaska, who worked as a costume actor in the 60’s and 70’s. He was "Dancing Bear" (although maybe not the official one) on the Captain Kangaroo show, in addition to being various apes, monkeys, aliens, mummies, and a sasquatch for movies and television. This is from one of these photos. As I’m thinking this show as being allegorical in some ways for the "Last Judgment" I was thinking of the Captain as Archangel Michael and the bear representing humanity trying to get into heaven. "Gold" on his book represents Mammon to me, as in "No man can serve two masters… Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24. The Captain is hopefully letting him in, especially since the painting seems to be running out and dancing bear is shuffling his feet, hoping that the Captain will let him through before he looses his footing and spills out into nothingness.

I was also teaching precollege kids comics during the time I painted this, and listened to the entirety of the latest Harry Potter book on cd while actually creating the image, so I would feel that the fantasy world the kids engage in, and the hero-relevance of Captain Kangaroo, and how he helped to give generations of children their agency is also hopefully embedded in the piece… (2005)