Friday, September 28, 2012

Bowl 24: Miriam

I stop to help her with the parking meter.
It's the kind we all have trouble with.
And in the end her cards are unusable,
but it finally takes some bills
and spits out a receipt for her car.

As we begin to talk, she reveals that she is an artist --
a painter of icons.
It is something I know little about,
except what I've read in art history books
and what I've seen when I looked at them from time to time in museums.

I've heard that painting icons is a spiritual journey,
and she confirms this,
and she says that icons also reflect the culture of the country where the painter lives.
That people can tell from her images that her roots are here in the US,
rather than in Russia, or Bulgaria, or Greece.

And she tells me about some of her spiritual journey,
and of how she was drawn to the Eastern Church
a church that has maintained its connection to its mystical traditions, even in this modern age.
and she speaks of painting icons and how it keeps her in touch with the mystery.
and I can feel her groundedness both in the reality of this world and in its mystery.
And I walk away, lighter, happier, and feeling grounded as well
 in both the reality and the mystery of it all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bowl 23: Jose

He is looking at a bamboo sculpture when I approach.
What do you think, I ask.
It reminds me of a tree house, he replies . . . like those we used to build
when I was a boy in Puerto Rico . . .
we'd start them and then leave them partly finished.
Then move on and start another somewhere else.

Then he points to another sculpture . . .
and says how much he likes it . . .
 and tells me that it reminds him of nests that the tortolitos make . . .
he tells me that they're little birds that live on the island
and that hundreds of them live in a single nest.

Art is whatever you see in it, he tells me.

As an artist I sometimes think people will see what I want them to see.
But really, I think he's right.
And I love that he sees what he sees.
And that you see what you see,
no matter what I see
or what I think I've put out there.
It makes it all so much richer,
the coming together of different lives 
and different points of view.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bowl 22: Paul

He is lying on a bench,
looking up at the trees.

that's an ancient one, he says.
not too many that old around here.
and this one,
I think it's sassafras. . .
and I learn that sassafras has three different kinds of leaves --
one oval, one mitten shaped, and one with three lobes.

then he tells me about a banyan tree where he grew up in Florida . . .
so big it spread across three yards!
we used to climb them and crawl along the branches
 to the mango trees in our neighbor's yards . . .
delicious! and we never needed to touch the ground.

we talk of clay, and of seeing contemporary ceramics in ancient settings --
he in Oaxaca, me in Certaldo,
and of a Chinese teacup he once held that was made for an emperor
so fine that when you held it to the light, the emperor's portrait was visible in the porcelain.

he talks on, about music and musical geniuses he's met,
about painting houses for billionaires
and at a certain point I begin to wonder how much he is making up
for my benefit
and how gullible I am for believing it all . . .

and then I decide
it doesn't matter in the least
the stories are fascinating
the day is beautiful
and I am totally enjoying our encounter.