A Dance in Two Parts – 2

In last week’s post, I wrote about my painting of people dancing at the Nevada County Fair. The work had been commissioned by the county’s Board of Supervisors to decorate the county’s newly constructed  administrative center. After the painting was installed, I left California  and spent a few months painting in Spain. When I returned to the U.S., a message on my studio’s answering machine cast a shadow on my happy homecoming. A gruff male voice in a menacing tone demanded that I phone him: “Hey, are you the guy that did that painting that’s in the new county building? The people dancing? Well, I got something to tell you. You call me right away, you hear?”

I couldn’t imagine why this man was angry, but his tone of voice led me to expect the worst.  Had I painted him dancing with someone else’s wife? Or equally unfortunate, had I depicted his wife dancing with someone she wasn’t supposed to be dancing with?

I waited until the next day to return his call.

A Dance at the Fair – Oil/canvas – 30 x 60 inches

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A Dance In Two Parts – 1

Imagine the unthinkable: Imagine that we human beings didn’t have to work for a living. Imagine that everything we needed to prosper in life was already there for us, like Eden. Imagine a world without money where we could pay for whatever we needed with only a smile. I wonder, what would we do with all the “free time” we had?  How many of us would decide to become policemen or to sell insurance?

If we didn’t have to work, I imagine that we would sleep a lot; we’d putter in the garden, goof off with the kids, play tennis and golf, enjoy long lunches, and do fun stuff, like fishing and playing cards. We’d weave and knit beautiful things and tell stories to each other. And no matter what, we’d play music and sing and we’d dance.

Pieter Bruegel – Wedding Dance – Oil/ wood – c. 1550

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Last Days of a Fading Year

“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”  Albert King… and others.

As many of us already know, the word Halloween is an English language contraction of the Christian “All-Hallows Eve.” Hallowed meaning holy, as in, “Our Father, hallowed be thy name.”

But the roots of the holiness of Halloween lie deeper than we usually suspect, and predate the arrival of Christianity in Europe by at least two thousand years, probably even longer. The ancient Celts who inhabited Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man marked Samhain, or “Summer’s End,” with a celebration of fire and feasting. In October, the gifts of Summer– wheat, hay, potatoes, pears and apples– had been harvested, but each day the Sun sank lower, dimmer, toward the edge of the southern horizon. The dark half of the year was becoming stronger. Nights grew longer and colder and the first fingers of Winter began to pry open the gates that would unleash storms and snow and ice and the fear that perhaps the Sun and its power would not return to the North.

During the bright, Summer half of the year, now fading to its end, a thin veil separated this world– Ourworld– from the Otherworld. But on the night of Samhain the veil shredded. The dead, who had left this world, and all the ghosts and goblins, fairies and other hidden souls found themselves able to wander freely out into the night to mingle with the rest of us, those of us still alive. Read More