Today, March 16th, would have been my dad’s 106th birthday. Work was hard to find when he was a young man. Dad worked as a farmer and took a job for a while doing construction work in Michigan before coming back to Missouri in 1942 to work in a plant that made asbestos shingles in St. Louis. He worked there for 31 years until he had a heart attack and was forced to retire at the age of 61.
He had only been to the doctor once (for a relatively minor foot injury) in all the years he worked at the shingle plant until he had the heart attack. It was at that time that he was also diagnosed with mesothelioma.
He spent the rest of his years on a farm they had purchased in Southeast Missouri around 1970. His health declined in the late 1980’s and he died in 1990 at the age of 78.
The photo is of my dad and mom – date unknown. Click to enlarge.
I met an artist in 1985, and the rest is history, as they say. I wouldn’t start writing until 1992, seven years later, but once I started an attraction to artists, and art it never really stopped. One of the first artists I met and had a serious relationship with left a bundle of sketches with me back in 1987. I still have them and I kept them safe all these years. She and I got back together for a while and she was stunned I still had them after thirty years. It was in 1989 or 1990, a friend of mine gave me a painting, and I still have that one, too. Over the years, I’ve collected paintings, and I have two my mama painted, which almost started a war with my sisters, but all in all, I’ve managed to go through artists and art, and I’ve never bought a single painting ever.
The Turner Center, in Valdosta, isn’t The Louvre by any means, but I have never gone into the building and walked out disappointed. They did a showing of the work of local High School seniors a few years back and I was blown away. They did a showing of African Art once that left me wondering how much more I haven’t seen in my life. But mostly, no matter how great art is, no matter how much it speaks to me, I never have the money, or I always wait too late.
Until now, that is.
In late December, I went to see the latest exhibit, and as usual, I was blown away. There was also a section dedicated to disabled artists, and it was impossible to tell there was any flaw in the physical form of any of the artists, and suddenly, there was this painting.
I won’t tell you how much it cost, but I really couldn’t afford it, and right after Christmas and all. But the painting stuck in my mind, so two weeks or so ago I contacted the artist, a wonder, wonderful, human being named Deanna Griffin, and she told me the painting was still on tour. I contacted the tour and they sent me the paperwork and…
On the 12th of March, 2018, I bought my first painting.
One day, I might know more about the painting, the woman whose face was captured there, perhaps, one day, but what I can tell you is this painting speaks to me. It tells me to keep looking, to keep wondering, to look at the shadows and the light, the color and the depth, the strokes of the brush and the stroke of genius.
There is something always unfinished about your life if you paint, or write, or draw or take photos, or carve. You are always alive, always about to complete a project, begin a new one, edit an old one, or think about what’s next.
This is the painting that says this to me.
That’s why it’s the first one I ever bought.
Paul Harris, who happened to be the best radio broadcaster in the St. Louis area IMHO before he retired does a daily (weekday) trivia contest consisting of just five questions. He used to do it on his daily radio show and I played won the radio contest a couple of times over the years. See the instructions below.
Welcome to the Harris Challenge. Every day you get a new category, containing five trivia questions. Question 1 is worth 1 point, Question 2 is worth 2 points, and so on. Get 8 or more points to reveal a bonus category! There are new Harris Challenge categories every weekday. Good luck!
Play the Harris Challenge