Monday, April 14, 2008
Art makers for life - rejoice!
Dear art makers for life,
I was moved to write this letter to honor all of you who create forever, and don't stop. I was inspired to do this while going through my father's belongings after his death last month. I came upon many photographs, as he was an avid picture taker.
This photo of me made me smile, and it made me see that I am really that same person - I have changed little as far as my essence goes. I can tell exactly what I am thinking and feeling. I know the field I'm standing in, and I know the dog at my feet. The untidy under shirt and baggy pants - not too unlike the outfit you'll find me in now some 50 years later. I hate to admit it, but that little roll in my middle at age 3 that disappeared in my younger beauty days, well, it's back now. So, I am just like her.
I scribbled on paper back then, and painted things. I still do. I haven't given up. I am not a 'dabbler'. It's my biggest asset to myself - "I will always draw or paint something." Like the knowledge one owns the house and has a small nest egg in the bank, I have this thing I do and it brings me...stability. While the financial ups and downs are constant, the art making itself is like an electric cord from the grounded earth to my hands, and the art is like the music that goes back out to the wind. Without the art, I don't think I'd stay tethered too long to any one spot on the ground. I would be alone without it. Completely alone.
My father was an artist. He painted and drew. He was an architect of great success and designed many of the buildings at Mayo Clinic and Notre Dame. He travelled extensively in Europe for his job with 3M and he always had sketches and things around. Our art was very different, he understood perspectives and could draw a room to scale in seconds. I never had a real interest in perspective, but admired his abilities. When I went to help clean out his belongings, my mother casually showed me a small drawing he had done just two days before his death. He was unable to speak much then, and hospice had brought in a hospital bed for him. My mother, who had lived with this person for 53 years and knew him well, gave him a pad of paper to show her how they should situate the hospital bed in the living room. When I saw the little drawing, my heart smashed in pieces, but more out of pride and love, not sadness. It looks like that of the child's hand, abstract. I felt like I had stumbled on a Picasso, and quietly asked if I could have it.
While the drawing was just a sweet story for my mother to tell me, to me it was the culmination of a life. For even in his final days, as he struggled to sketch where his death bed should be placed, drawing was his means to communicate.
I think it is his most humble creation, but his most beautiful.
Like the drawings I was doing at the age the picture was taken here, it is very raw, and it made sense to the maker.