Two Years - 2020, 2021

Artist: Jason Godeke

Location: 400 E Laurel St. Fort Bragg CA,  across the street from Bainbridge Park

Inspiration for this installation

Is this dyptich simply two paintings of random dreamlike imagery? Yes and no. Every element of Two Years is a reflection of Jason’s (and our collective) lived experience and reactions to the COVID pandemic. The dotted red line that traces the mountain ridge connecting both murals is taken directly from the national Covid death chart for the years 2020 and 2021.

The Virus

This is Jason’s vision of the COVID virus. Unlike the green blob with red dots, which can seem to connote malevolent stickiness, Jason depicts it as a passive cloud of, mechanical programming. Often our language around viruses can anthropomorphize them, as if they are “looking for a new host.” In truth, they are simple biological systems, passively transported to environments where they infect and replicate, or inhospitable locations where they are destroyed by the elements. In 2020, they loom over the landscape like the low clouds of an approaching storm.

Alert levels

The crocodile is a reference to the health alert levels of yellow, orange, red and purple that were used to communicate the rates of infection within Mendocino county. Like many of us, Jason distinctly remembers  watching with increasing alarm as we edged closer and closer into the purple zone.

Jason was inspired by mural fragments found in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan. Check out the De Young’s incredible collection here.


Virus particulate drifts out of the crocodile’s mouth, curling towards flowers, abalone, starfish, California poppies, and a child in a mask, a reference to the phase of the pandemic when we hadn’t yet fully identified the virus’s methods of transmission or persistence on surfaces. Every footstep outside the house felt suffused with risk.

Bubble life

This alarmed creature with it’s head in a glass bell is a reference to the feeling of moon-suit sensory deprivation feeling you can get when walking around wearing a mask, glasses, and often earpods.

It’s also a direct reference to Heironymous Bosch’s famous tryptich The Garden of Earthly Delights, painted 1490-1500AD.
​As the daily fear and anxiety of 2020 gave way to pandemic exhaustion in 2021, many people tried to reestablish social connections through small group pods, with varying degrees of success.

Jason remembers feeling like one strange creature out of many, drifting across the landscape of Fort Bragg, greeting friends from inside a self-imposed bubble of personal space.

Rolling the dice

The bubonic plague or Black Death swept through Europe in waves of infection and re-infection between 1345 and 1353. Though Bosch’s famous work is a warning against sinfulness and lust, it was within the context of a society still reeling from a pandemic catastrophe which seemed to the people at the time to choose its victims at random. Many people then, like now, chose to confront the randomness by throwing caution to the wind and living for maximum pleasure.

by Ron Morita

Something stirred like one of Angelina’s sons when he lived in her body, pulling her
down the steps to the stone wall she restored. Ghostly wisps flew up the hill, dancing like angels.
Following gray cobblestones past houses with red tile roofs, she spotted what appeared to be a
man in a white shirt. He retreated, drawing her down the road. Perhaps the mysterious figure was
tall and handsome, with a lock of black hair falling over a bronzed forehead. After a long walk
she spotted the handyman’s cottage, its curtains closed. No doubt he was in bed with his wife,
snoring to wake the dead. All fogs are one, he had told her, so that if you stand in it and let your
spirit soar, you can feel the thoughts of someone in that same mist anywhere in the world.
At length she heard the whisper of surf and arrived at the road’s ugly scar across a black
sand beach. A cloud–or perhaps the sail of an unseen fishing boat–floated above the waves.
Mist thickened as she neared the water until it was hard to tell sea from shore, up from down.
Before she knew it water lapped at her thighs. The image of Jesus flashed before her. Quickly
she crossed herself.
Our Father, I am only sixty-one and in excellent health. Why have you come for me?
A man’s voice, sounding far away, called her name.

This excerpt appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, January 2014


Poetry and Prose generously donated by members of Writers of the Mendocino CoastLearn more about this fantastic group!