Ethel Spowers’ “Gust of Wind” (8 5/8 in. by 6 ½ in.) sold for $107,707 at Bonhams’ Auction of Prints in London on Nov. 27, 2012. The Australian Spowers is best known for her bold linocut prints. Linocut is a labor-intensive process during which the artist carves an image into a piece of linoleum mounted on a wooden block, then covers the carved block in ink to create a giant stamp of sorts. Here’s the catch: To make the final print look right, the image must be carved into the linoleum backwards, as if it were a reflection in a mirror. This is an enormous amount of effort to create a simple image, but the end result can be striking. 

As we approach the “fiscal cliff” at the time of this writing, one could be forgiven for wondering if our legislature is employing a similarly over-complicated methodology. Indeed, the glacial pace with which our nation’s problems are being addressed, exacerbated by election-related inactivity, gives the impression that Congress may be using a figurative linocut method, when pen and paper would certainly suffice. As a result, advisors and clients alike are left to guess at a myriad of swirling possibilities for the rest of this year, much like the unlucky individual depicted on our cover, as Congress doesn’t seem to be offering any answers of its own.