Portrait of a Dancer – Oil on canvas – 32 x 40 inches.
This image is a portrait of my niece Ruth, painted in what used to be my studio on the Gran Via in Valencia, Spain. We sense that she’s a pensive young woman, but we don’t know her thoughts. We also can’t share the thoughts of the cat. We suspect, however, that the cat — being a cat — knows whatever there is to know.
Purple iris, red tulips, fragrant lilac, and the music of birds have arrived in our little town in the foothills, about 2,500 feet above the level of the sea. If you welcome Spring, but are not ready to let go of Winter, you need only ascend another 1,500 feet higher into the mountains to find snow and cold.
Perhaps you’ll encounter fox tracks in the snow, and if you walk quietly, a deer and her fawn may pause to appraise you before they disappear into the trees. Branches whisper in the wind. Perhaps you’ll come upon a stream, and be able to hear the murmur of water as it wrinkles around the stones on its way to the sea.
Winter melts in the sunlight, gradually easing it grip on us. But I don’t want to let go of its white fingers and I don’t want Winter to let go of me. I want to feel still alive, like the snow, alive a little while longer.
The Walker — Soria, Spain – Oil on canvas – 21 x 31 inches.
Spaces: In the space between the buildings, there were bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms, a home on each floor, where families used to live.
Then there’s the space between the man and the dog, even though their separate shadows have merged into one.
Also, there are several meters of space between the artist and the street scene he painted, but just as fascinating, there’s a space of time between now and when he originally created the painting — more than thirty-five years ago.
For the past few weeks, the spaces between people in Soria and everywhere else in Spain has widened. The city, like the rest of the country, is under strict quarantine while the virus sweeps through the streets, gathering its victims. As of today, at the end of the first week in April, 2020, more than 120,000 Spaniards have been infected and more than 11,000 have lost their lives. This in a country 1/20th the size of the United States.
The man and the dog no longer walk the streets of Soria. The families who used to live in the empty space between the buildings are probably not with us either. “Eventually,” my friend Maya tells me from Madrid, “the spaces between all of us alive on earth and all those buried beneath it will not exist. Every one of us, everywhere, will join them. Only not now, we hope. Not soon. But eventually…”