Tarot Art Calendar 2005 by Arnell Ando and Leslie Cochran
Review by Diane Wilkes

It is no secret that, while I am always delighted to receive tarot-themed calendars, there's only one for which I wait with bated breath. That calendar is what has become the yearly offering from Arnell Ando and Leslie Cochran.

Other calendars may have more "meat," in terms of spreads, lunar cycles, articles, and so forth, but in this case, fodder for my mind is less important than art for my soul.

The 2005 Tarot Art Calendar is similar to last year's in several ways--Ando and Cochran each contribute six cards, the artwork is signed and printed on 8 x 11 inches of glossy paper, the artists add their thoughts on each card, and the production is fabulous. But I actually prefer these images (on the whole) to last year's. The images seem darker, richer--and it seems, at least in Arnell's case, that our political climate has heightened and influenced the images. Since that coincides nicely with my own state of mind, I find the images powerfully resonant, though they are subtle enough not to obtrude or offend.

For example, February's Lovers card's black and white nostalgia highlights love of all kinds, but seems to focus on a lesbian couple, one who can't plan a wedding on the beach in which they are ensconced. April's Fool contains symbols of the Moon, dark undertones that gently mock the concept of lighthearted faith. Malcolm X's famous phrase, "By Any Means Necessary" is etched onto a tree in the background of The Chariot and Justice is a combination of modernization and timelessness, complete with a stack of newspapers, at the top of which contains a War! headline.    

Death is the card, though, that haunts me the most. Appropriately gracing the month of October (Halloween/Samhain), a levitating body hovers over a manual typewriter, holding a cast-off mask. Transformative words are written on a page (numbered 13!) that emerges from the old typewriter--not a Remington or Underwood, but a genuine Arnell Ando.

Cochran's contributions are not political, but they are powerful in another way. Many of them are personal: the Magician features her brother; the Hermit, her husband. Yet they are not merely private portraits, but archetypal portrayals; the Magician reminds me of one of those old, classic Dylan album covers, stark and authentic, and the Hermit travels easily from homespun domesticity to the otherworld.

One of my favorites of Cochran's cards is the Empress, which contains the familiar woman of leisure lounging comfortably in a flowering field. A red ribbon loops abut one arm, attached to a tiny, naked baby. But the odd sky and positioning of the ribbon demands the question: Is she connected, bonded, or yoked?

The Wheel of Fortune gives us a sense of timelessness, as well as an understanding of the human yearnings to attempt to control our own fate. The use of antique watch frames containing archetypal imagery is particularly clever.

Many of the images in this calendar have a nostalgic tinge, yet they are also very fresh and exciting. I look forward to the coming year, where I will be able to change these potent images on a monthly basis, and perhaps, change my world as well.

You can order this limited edition calendar from either artist, Arnell Ando or Leslie Cochran. There will only be 100 copies made, so I'd urge you to order now. If you pre-ordered the calendar, you get lots of little goodies, too, but it's too late for them now. There's always next year...thank goddess.

Images 2004 Leslie Cochran and Arnell Ando
Review and page 2004 Diane Wilkes