Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Magic box

The day unfolded like a circus act, with friends arriving early in the day and continuing throughout until it was time to make our way to the gallery. “It’s your day” was the tag line so many uttered when offering me encouragement for a good day and great show. Like from a magic box that holds unseen wonders, beach chairs, umbrellas, music, food and drinks appeared in amounts unimagined moments before. A constant influx of friends arriving on island for the show descended on the house turning it into a full-fledged beach party. The wonder of it all was that it was completely unplanned. Because many artists suffer from anxiety on opening nights, my friends sought to make sure that it was minimized for me by celebrating our lives together all day.

As a result, when I walked in and saw the colorful paintings arrayed about the gallery it was a continuation of the fun, light and color that had been my life for the last year. The festive colorations worn by so many of the guests, suggested by the shows title, Vineyard Colors, filled the rooms and overflowed onto the outside garden and street. Color radiated from friends like Connie and Preston Williams and later the McLaurin family that had just returned from meeting with President Obama, wearing that inevitable glow that comes from proximity to the pinnacles of power and celebrity. Zita Cousen wore the same luminosity for the same reason, as she graciously greeted me at the front door.

The many faces of friends warmed me as they shared abbreviated conversations, well wishes and admiration for the new work. Stories of how, where and when they became collectors allowed me to see more clearly how welcomed the work has been over the years. These created children of my mind and spirit had found homes that they were loved in and somehow, for some, begged for new siblings to share wall space with. It is hard to let go of your children but one must, for by giving them the gift of life you give them the power to enhance other lives and spread your influence further than if you did it alone. To touch a life with love, is all we need aspire to, for a happy life.

At the end of the night as the last person walked out the gallery, and we said good night to Zita and her wonderful husband Michael Brown, the circus of light, fun and love, magically went back into the box, but the memories remain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A respite of activity

Returning to our place, from the beach, on the second crystal clear day since the rains, we rushed outside to wave to the helicopter, flying along the route of the lagoon out back, bearing our President's arrival to the island. The discussion all day on the sandy beach had been about when the Obamas would finally arrive, with people reading the tea leaves of parked vans, helicoptors, secret service movements, etc - divining his imminent arrival amidst reports of last minute scheduled economic meetings and redundant right wing objections to his vacation. On an island of otherwise nonplussed residents, the frenzy, albeit much calmer, could still be felt. Though some of the enthusiasm has been dampened by decisions made and on-going challenges on the financial and global scene, the support for him and hope for the change he represents still exist, though with a more realistic awareness of what's capable by one man and one branch of government. Universally agreed, however, was the fact that he needed a break for regeneration as much as any other person.

Having dropped off my work to the Cousen Rose Gallery for the show earlier in the day, I was relieved of anymore responsibility regarding it. A sort of floating on freedom sensation took over momentarily. I don't know if it was not having something to do or no longer having my creations around me, who have kept me company for the past year, with their individual demands for attention. With this emptiness in mind we made our way to the opening of Jeanine Primm Jones' portraits at the Featherstone Gallery. Her reception was well attended by her subjects, soon to be subjects and the culturally heeled residents of our community here.

Since arriving five days ago, it has been a nonstop flurry of events that started with Myrna Morris' modern dance themed paintings that opened the day we arrived, and the Faith Ringgold presentation of her famous quilted artworks at the gallery next door, and Carole Simpson signing her new book, News Lady, that same evening, as we spoke of a painting I had started of her. Though the heavy rains dampened outdoor activity for a couple of days, it was back with a vengeance with the Illumination Night celebration in the campgrounds that brought thousands of people out to ogle at the lit lanterns festooned along the bric-a brac detailed Victorian cottages. Starting with a crew from Bill and Brenda Cavette's BBQ we made our way through the festivities to Wesley and Judy's annual party. Everyone seemed to be warmed by the nostalgic impression of a bygone time when summer evenings glowed by candlelit porches and happy greetings from passer-bys. The Disneyland like atmosphere of this experience today, however, only allows for the dimmest idea of what it once was.

Leading up to my show on Saturday has been yoga and beach visits, meeting many friends, like Nancy Boxill and Dennis Thompson from Atlanta, a bid-whist party we threw and going to the Charles Ogletree panel discussion on race and the media that started with a tribute to Berry Gordy at the local high school, along with Amy Goldson, and my partner Joe Steele in tow. Adrienne Childs was astonishing the jewelry loving women on the island with her original creations, among her many talents, at a trunk show she held at Cousen Rose Gallery.

Notwithstanding a few road blocks for the Presidential caravans that are likely to occur, we are venturing out for the many other events that will culminate in my own show on Saturday. Forging ahead with confidence in a future we collectively build one by one, on the wings of ancestoral dreams - today will be even brighter tomorrow.