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|