Sunday, March 20, 2016

Chorus Of Song

Every created thing has strength to transform. It is spring, and metamorphosis is occurring. For me, it is time to quiet the voices from outside and inside and listen to a pure chorus of song. It is possible.

I am primarily an artist. Painting is how I have earned my living for decades. Along the way, I became a photographer too. My work has appeared on book covers, in magazines and on gallery walls. I am grateful for the life I have lived, and now, I am giving more time to writing. 

I have had so many adventures that just one year of my life would make for a memoir. Thank God, my memory is good and I can draw from a grand storehouse of experiences to write about.

Here is a fun episode:
In February of 2010 I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to attend carnival. It is one of the biggest events on the planet each year. I knew in advance I would be in for a wild ride . . . and had some trepidation, mostly because I have a wild side.
During the trip, I focused on photography, not painting. Each day, I went out in the streets, taking photos. I bought an expensive ticket for one of the premiere nights of carnival in the Sambadrome, when upwards of 50,000 costumed participants parade from sunset to sunrise. I also bought a ticket to one of the samba balls that occur on several nights previous to the parades.
One day, I wandered far from my hotel. I was in “the zone” as I like to say. That is, my body is absorbed in the world, so that the world becomes my senses. I am not conscious of myself as a separate entity. I am not male or female, American, old or young, black or white or any race—all barriers vanish, everything flows in a great current. My eyes look for an opportunity to catch some poetry from the world.
I came to a blanket set out on grass by a street curb. Someone had carefully placed an assortment of objects there; a clock, sandals, torn photograph, fan etc. The things placed on the blanket seemed odd, fascinating, and personal. They looked as though they stayed there day and night. Leaves were scattered over everything. I took pictures. Suddenly, from behind me, a door crashed open and a crazed, bare chested black man with huge afro hairstyle dyed bright fluorescent pink came charging at me. I had no time to say anything—he was livid and yelling non-stop. I managed not to be intimidated by this rabid dog and stayed calm, although a bit fearful of his mental state. Did he sense that I found his objects whimsical and tragic? Soon he was insisting that I pay him for taking the pictures. With a tinge of chagrin, I took some coins out of my pocket and put them in his hand. He started yelling at me again. He wanted more money. At that point, I toughed it out. Holding firmly to my camera, I turned my back to the fellow and walked away. The vision of his crazed countenance stayed with me.
I walked toward my hotel and took more photos. A couple young ladies came up beside me. One of them touched my arm. “Sir, do you speak English?” I replied yes. She held her friend's arm in hers, and said, “I must tell you. What you are doing is dangerous.” At that point, I had left “the zone”, and felt a tinge of danger pass through my veins. “Thank you”,  I replied.
I hugged my expensive camera tighter, feeling torn between needing safety and experiencing the full impact of Rio de Janeiro's street life. I wanted to go into all the places.

This happened one other time. I had started going down concrete stairs into a favela neighborhood, following a trail of fabulous graffiti leading into the heart of darkness. A woman coming up the stairs stopped me. Waving her finger, she frowned to indicate I must not continue. Again, I felt my creative yearning crushed by danger. 
Thumb up . . . streets of Rio de Janeiro

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