Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de Los Muertos y Aquellos Viviendo


Little Yellow Zinnias, oil on linen panel, 3"x5"
I read the most beautiful obituary this weekend in the New York Times. Does this mean I'm an elderly person? Yeah, maybe. Yet, the NYT's Obits are so well written! They are like great short stories that leave you asking questions, curious to know more.

In the past few weeks, there have been several artists who have past away. I didn't know any of their names.

There were these: Nancy Spero, Ruth Duckworth, Amos Ferguson and, an actor from way back--Lou Jacobi

And then there was Albert York. As the author of the obit, Roberta Smith, wrote, he was "...a painter of small mysterious landscapes who shunned the art world yet had a fervent following within it." He was so uninterested in fame and glory that his one and only gallery representative quietly, and mostly without his knowledge, exhibited and handled his work. What I found so endearing and profound were the following:

He worked at his own pace.
He was emotionally engaged with his subject.
He kept on painting even though he had to work a "real" job.
He didn't quit painting despite being "perpetually dissatisfied with his work, prone to scraping down his wood panels..."

Sound familiar?

In Tucson, Dia de Los Muertos is a pretty big deal. I like that we honor those who have died with a parade and celebration of their lives. I also like honoring the living by encouraging perseverance.

Now, I couldn't resist including Lou Jacobi. He was one of those character actors everyone recognized, but rarely could name. As one critic wrote, "Mr. Barnes... added: “He has a face of sublime weariness and the manner of a man who has seen everything, done nothing and is now only worried about his heartburn."" Wow. Can you imagine being so good as to convey such nuance? He was a funny, and serious man who, in real life, did everything he could to live well.

May we all endeavor to do the same, even if we scrape a few paintings now and again.

This small, 4" x 6" oil on panel, is from an image of yellow zinnias from this summer. The flowers are now dying, but I still remember.

16 comments:

Edgar said...

How thoughtful of you to provide such a beautiful memorial to those that have passed... and a great lesson in how we all live interesting and varied lives, while struggling with many of the same things.

You keep the web beautiful for me, Melinda. May your scraped paintings be few, and your discoveries be many.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar. I would really like that, "...fewer scraped paintings" (unless it's on purpose) and many more discoveries.

Maybe you'll have time to start blogging again soon.

Jeane Myers said...

you are as wonderful a story teller as you are an artist :)

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

Love that background and the flower colours poping out...as always your informative and interesting blog leaves me contemplating and trying to fit more in my day...

Jeffrey

Linny D. Vine said...

Melinda,
Your words carry with them so much emotion as do your beautiful paintings!

Melinda said...

I am humbled by your comment, Jeane. Thank you for coming by. I think of you as so inspirational--a wonderful artist and a very, very good writer!

Melinda said...

Thanks, Jeffrey! So, does this mean I should contact the NY Times and ask for commissions on new subscriptions?! :)

This panel had been scraped and scraped with many layers still hanging on. I added some more paint and then used Q-tips (cotton swabs) to wipe away some paint to reveal the background colors. It was fun.

Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Linny. I'm glad that you sensed how deeply these stories can reach.

I can only dream of doing so with paint, but I'll keep trying. You're very kind.

loriann signori said...

Loved reading your post Melinda... thought provoking. Thanks you.
Beautiful, juicy thick paint ...mmmmm.

Melinda said...

'Yum' like frosting, yes, Loriann?! Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you like the painting.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

Where have I been? I don't know how I missed this. But...how incredibly lovely this painting is. Just magical. I love the ribbons of mauve in the background, the pattern, and the lush thick paint for the flowers in their pot.

You are kind to honour the artists who are gone. That's a beautiful passage. This time of year here does lend itself to these thoughts, and deep kindness. I drove through a sea of brown and gold fields under a thick, low, grey cloud skudding sky today, and that was the good part. The bad part is cheap housing and industry encroaching on the fields, and farmland. Yikes.

Still the air with a significant bite to it makes the cheeks rosy, and helps us to forget our intense H1N1 discussions everywhere. We are sick of hearing about sickness.
We know it's serious, but we want some relief. Maybe some sunshine tomorrow, but no. Snow is in the forecast north of the city. Big, bad, snow!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxBarbara

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. That sounds so familiar. Thank you for sharing those "endearing and profound" words. One of my art heroes, Maira Kalman, is a huge fan of the NY Times obituaries. Your painting is so colorful and cheery -- a nice counterpoint to these shorter, darker days.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Barbara! I got to thinking about all of this after your recent and thoughtful posts.

I like to think of Canada as having smarter development policies. It's sad to hear that some of our bad behavior has crept north.

Wishing you many warm family gatherings even though there is s n o w, all around. Yikes.

And, please, stay well!!

Melinda said...

Oh, I'm so glad to hear that others enjoy reading the NY Time's obits as much as I do.

Thank you for commenting. It's nice to have a little cheer to balance the colder weather. Wait. We don't have cold weather, but almost everyone else does!

Stay warm!

Janelle Goodwin said...

Great post, Melinda! I enjoyed it very much. And awesome painting!

Melinda said...

Hi Janelle,
Thank you so much! I appreciate your stopping by and will have to go check out what you've been up to lately...