The Road and the Sky

The Road and The Sky – Acrylic/paper – 18 x 24 inches.

When we were children, my little friends and I would talk about what we would become when we grew up. No butcher, baker or candlestick-maker for us — (and no one wanted to be a cop or a fireman or the president of the United States). No: in our future there was a race car driver, a parish priest, a millionaire, a pilot flying jet aircraft against the Communists and a star center fielder for the Chicago White Sox.

Because I knew they would laugh at me, I dared not say that when I grew up I wanted to be a tree. I would grow tall and slender like a proper oak or maple and my green hair and my hundred arms would welcome owls and spiders, squirrels and ravens and all kinds of wiggly bugs. I would also have legs and feet instead of roots so I could wander through the world.

Life had other plans for us of course, and no millionaire or baseball player grew out of our dreams. My hair did not turn green either, although it shares the same fate as leaves in Autumn. My feet are still on the road and my head is in the sky, clouds in my eyes, looking at stars. Still thirsty for a cup of light. An answer.

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Night: Venice

Night: Venice – Watercolor – 10 x 15 inches.

Only a short walk from this little street, the Piazza San Marco opens its wide arms to a few tourists who don’t mind a light rain. A five-piece band dressed in white sport coats, black trousers, and black bow ties plays under an awning in front of a restaurant for an audience of one. A little girl clutching a stuffed bear sits at a table in the front row and gazes raptly up at the violinist, who plays directly, and only, to her.

You pause for a few moments. Where are her parents? you wonder, then keep on walking. You’re a traveler, not a tourist. It’s midday at your mother’s home on the other side of the world, where it’s sunny, and pumpkins decorate porches, and green maples are turning orange and scarlet.

Here in the rain, a family gathers around a table under a red awning. You pause for a few moments and listen, but not knowing Italian, you don’t understand their chatter, only their smiles and laughter, their being together. You remind yourself that you are here, not in Reykjavik or Amsterdam.

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The House of Bernarda Lorca

The House of Bernarda Lorca – Watercolor – 21 x 29 inches.

Two months before he was assassinated in 1936, Federico García Lorca finished writing his last play, “The House of Bernarda Alba.” It’s a drama of cruelty: a family of women imprisoned in their home in a village in Andalucia by Bernarda, the dominating matriarch of the family. Allegorically, the House was Spain itself. Like Janus, Lorca evoked the subjugation of women in the past and also prophesied what life in Spain would soon become for them, and for everyone else as well.

Who murdered the poet? Evidence points to official orders of right-wing military authorities under the command of General Francisco Franco. Franco’s forces had overthrown a liberal democracy in order to turn back the clock three hundred years to conservative, religious Spain. During Franco’s dictatorship, (1939 until his death in 1975) socialists, radicals, intellectuals, communists, free-thinkers, liberals, homosexuals, atheists, the insufficiently-pious and other “progressives” were murdered by the thousands. Since 2000 more than 735 mass graves, containing the remains of some 9,000 people, have been opened. Officially, 114,226 people are still missing. García Lorca’s body has never been found. Franco’s malignant ghost still haunts Spain.

This night scene was not painted in Andalucia during the Civil War, but on a street corner in Valencia more than fifty years later. Its subject is neither the dictator nor the poet, only a little girl, alone on her bicycle. She’s lost in a world of her own and not aware of the men with guns, at least not yet. Would it comfort us to hope that the men are marching on the street in order to protect her?

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