Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thoughts of a Life so Far...

Sixty years ago to this day, on a bright full moon in Aquarius, like the one over the past few nights, I slipped into this present incarnation, which has been a surprise to me every step of the way. Not particularly pleased with the circumstances I found myself in, I made plans to change them as soon as possible. Most of those plans fell apart, like becoming a doctor, although I couldn't stand the sight of blood, or a brilliant singer, although I couldn't hold a note, or a family man, although my interest were otherwise. Even though I sketched for pleasure it didn't become a career goal until I was a teenage student at Cass Tech. Growing "up south" in Detroit, the limits of my life were implied during segregation, but those suddenly fell open as the wings of revolutionary effort for equality created opportunity for many of us. Being in the right place at the right time has been the key to many successes in my life and probably in yours, too. Though I thought I was doing it on my own, the world conspired in the achievement of my plans, like a silent partner. From acceptance to Parsons to acceptance within a previously barred fashion industry the pull of change took hold of my life. Therefore, at this point, having tried to keep up with the Jones, and for brief moments having been the Jones, I can appreciate the joy of just living.

In some ways, a sideline participant, I have witnessed dramatic social, economic, political and technological changes that only existed in dreams and in science fiction. Social equity as a goal has been a norm since proponents of my generation like Fannie Lou Hammer, Martin Luther King and James Baldwin, and the many that didn't share my pigmentation, fought for inclusion, spoke in our voices and wrote searing commentaries about the unjust burdens of our lives. Economic opportunity has lifted many of us into lifestyles that our parents and grandparents could only dream of, and time has allowed us to know that the ups and downs of life is just that, and not a static commitment to any placement therein. Political advancement has seen the move beyond the first celebrated black local official to the first black president, and has elevated an entire nation in its capacity to appreciate a person for the content of their being and capacity of their skills. And technological advancements has rivaled anything I ever watched in episodes of Buck Rogers or Star Trek. Who knew they where the signal of things to come and not just fantasies to stir our imagination.

These accomplishments would be enough for some but the true joy of witnessing life is the learning that comes with it. Learning that what your parents told you was true, that your friends determine who you become. Thank you to my many friends that has shaped me (you know who you are). Learning that hard times really does create strength and that good times inevitably follows. Learning that less is more and that more has always been there. Learning that what goes around comes around and that you have a choice in the matter. Learning to not blame anyone for anything but yourself, because taking responsibility is the key to success. Learning whether you look to a specific God or the God within you are not alone on this journey, and that the journey itself is the destination. Learning that as the experience of life unfolds, fears recede, and appreciation for life grows. And as the Beatles sang "And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give".

In this bucolic stage of my life, I no longer swat flies and wish the deer that ate my flowers were dead, but realize I have a part in their experience of the miracle of life too, and I couldn't be happier.

Glenn Tunstull, A Personal View of Light and Color Book

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In the Midst of Summer...

Surprisingly comfortable mornings become muggy afternoons and the once crisp shirt I started the day with is sticking to my back by the time I return home. Born during the height of summer (July 29th) in the city, I have always loved the heat that rises from the pavement, warming my ankles and throttling my movements...by slowing my steps as I breathe deeply climbing each inclining block...until I reach an air cooled destination. The initial sensation of falling into a cool pool of water subsides temporarily as my body's attracted heat searches for equilibrium. Moments later I am either still breathing deeply with clammy neck and brow or chilled to a point of discomfort, where only a sweater contest the chilly air.

With the completion of my Parsons summer school session yesterday, I have returned to the Hudson Valley, in hopes of a cooling breeze off the hillsides nearby. So far, the pastoral setting offers calming vistas but not wafts of cool air, and I am lodged inside under the controlled environment of air conditioning. In this setting I am putting the finishing touches on several paintings for the August 21st to August 27th show at Cousen Rose Gallery on the Vineyard. I hope to see many of you there next month. Maybe some of you are lucky enough to get to the beach today, as in the painting above entitled, Beach Frolic.

In advance of that you can see a catalog of my work in my new book, Glenn Tunstull, A Personal View of Light and Color.