Re-entering the real world after so many hours, weeks, months spent by my mom’s side has been more of a struggle than I might have imagined. There was, of course, a desire for a return to normality, to get back to a world in which each ring of the phone didn’t follow with a sense of fear and foreboding. But lurking constantly, just beneath the surface, are emotions that threaten to float to the top of my throat, sting my eyes, and take over.
I’m trying to walk the line between acknowledging and allowing those emotions but not giving them complete control. It is natural to feel this swirl of hurt for someone I loved so fiercely and miss so terribly. But as much as she would appreciate and understand those emotions, she would absolutely hate to see me overcome by them. So I let them come and then I let them go.
The images above are photographs by artist Kim Keever. See more of Kim’s work at his website.
If I could think of any one way to honor my mom’s memory in my life going forward– it could be summed up in one word. MORE.
These paintings by Melbourne artist Amanda Krantz teem with color, movement, and life, seeming ready to burst from their canvases. They embody what I would like my own life to be.
In the last year of Mom’s life, there was less of the good, less of what she loved and enjoyed. That was perhaps one of the toughest challenges we, as those who loved her, faced. Watching that light fade as she couldn’t eat what she wanted, couldn’t go and do as she had always done, her life seemed merely a struggle for survival.
For her, and for myself, I want what is left of my own existence to be abundantly more. More colorful, more adventurous, more days spent doing what I love rather than merely surviving.
We have a tendency to make snap judgements, to see in monochromes. You believe “A”, so you must be “B”. We quickly demonize and categorize without knowing the full story.
In her monochromatic pastel and ink drawings, artist Mila Libman finishes with what is so often our beginning, a distillation of an impression.
How often do we refuse to see past our initial perception, to give another the opportunity to be understood and appreciated? Social media these days is a firestorm of quick judgements often based on very little truth. Perhaps we have only ourselves to blame, selves that are so wrapped up in our surfaces that we fail to allow our depths to be explored.
As humans, none of us are one dimensional. We are a mashed up conglomerate of peaks and valleys, opposing polarities that often don’t make sense. It is when we reach below the surface, into the crevices where the true self often hides, that we see ourselves and our fellow beings in reality, for better or worse.
In his wood sculptures, San Francisco artist Sean Newport begins with individual geometric shapes, building them up and arranging them into a finished whole.
Varied colored surfaces reinforce patterns and illusions created by the undulating geometrics. Our perception of the shapes changing with differing perspectives. Just as opening our eyes to a different view of another may alter the way we see them, or at the very least, help us to understand the crevices behind their own facade.
This is my first blog post since my mom left this earth. It has been seventeen days. We were lucky in that we had time to prepare, time to say goodbye, but it still doesn’t seem real. I can still hear her voice in my head, that musical little “Hi Les!” that always greeted me on the other end of the phone line. I still see her in my dreams, but she is never sick, always whole, always the way I most remember her, the way I want to remember.
It was a harrowing, heartbreaking experience, to watch someone you love so much slowly slip away. The hospice nurses marveled that she held on as long as she did– that she must have had some sort of unfinished business to tend to. But those who knew her well knew that she would let go of her tortured body in her own good time. Always the boss, always organized and in control, she would decide when.
If there is anything I’ve taken away from this last year of my mom’s life, it is that we have no guarantees. She never should have been gone at only sixty seven. There were still plans to be made, life to be lived, grandchildren to watch grow up. If my mom could be gone, then so could my husband, so could my brothers, so could I. I’ve been left with a resolve to follow my passions more fully, bask in each day more completely, love more abundantly. I have today and for now it is enough.
These photographs by Bill Armstrong reminded me of the fleeting nature of our lives on this earth. To see more of his work, please visit his website.
We are all in some ways living transitory lives. None of us are here forever, though some, like Mr. F and I, find ourselves moving from place to place quite often. Sometimes we stay in one spot long enough that we begin to be recognized at the local coffee shop, but about the time that begins to happen, we move on to the next locale.
Vaiven, New Paintings from Mexico, a new series of paintings by artist Ann Chamberlin now showing at Lora Schlesinger Gallery take their inspiration by the transitory places we find ourselves in– hotels, airports, campgrounds– and the lives and tales unfolding as people drift in and out.
Chamberlin’s paintings, seen from a not-quite-bird’s-eye view, show a quick glimpse into a moment in these places. The unremarkable moments are seen, the instances that don’t necessarily burn into our memory, yet are essential to the way these places of transitions feel and function. For a time we are part of a collective when we find ourselves in these spots. There’s a kind of kindredship and bonding that happens when we meet others moving through the same space, coming and going to and from so many varied experiences.
A dear friend told me a few years ago that I seemed swirly happy. It was less than a year after Mr. F and I had married and started traveling. My world had completely changed and though I was still getting used to the changes, my giddiness at my new life must have been pretty obvious.
Mr. F still makes me swirly, as does our crazy adventure filled life. But over the last few years , we’ve encountered a few storms that have left us whirling instead of swirling.
Back in those early days, we were working to pay off debt, but otherwise pretty carefree and swirly. Then Mr. F thought he might go back to school– whirl. We thought staying in Seattle would be for us, but it turned out it wasn’t– whirl. I started picking up freelance work– whirl ( and swirl, but somedays more whirl than swirl 😉 ). We began seriously saving for a home– whirl. The Mr.’s stepmom got sick, our best friends’ sister/sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and their son diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy, my mom began her own fight with cancer and is losing– whirl whirl whirl whirl.
These days it often seems the whirls outnumber the swirls. It’s easy to get swept up in the tornado of stress and worry that plagues each day. But then we go for a walk under a gentle breeze and a bright blue sky and the swirls return.
The paintings featured above are by Providence artist Rosalind Breen. To see more of her work, please visit her website.
As we travel, each place becomes a part of who we are, who we are becoming. We carry their influence with us. Some penetrate and saturate us more than others. These pastels by Texas artist Kathleen Holder catch me right in the soul with their soft light and eerie depth.
Every person has a different way of experiencing each place. The way we are affected might be due to the place itself or some other influence. Some eyes are drawn to stark contrasts, while others look more for the slight changes in light and tone around them. Through burnished layers of pastel, Holder creates monochromatic, saturated abstracts that seem to go on into infinity. It almost seems that if we stepped into their plane, we might come out covered in color.
It’s funny how we try to make sense of everything these days. The mystery has been removed from so many elements of life that we have this need to have an explanation for everything. We ask why and then are frustrated if we can’t find the answer. In her series of works on paper, Atlanta artist Caroline Bullock explores the hidden geometries in nature and how we connect ourselves within these structures.
It’s fascinating to think about how everything in the natural world often seems so random, yet there is so much order to be found. This flower blooms at this time every year. These animals only like this particular area of a vast world. Orcas know instinctually to migrate thousands of miles each year. Why can’t we be more like that? We rely so much of facts and perceived truths, we rarely seek out answers by our own faith and intuition. Perhaps if we did we might be as successful at life as those redwoods reaching for the sky.
Beauty is often found in its purest form– a hidden waterfall, the smiling face of a child, the soft wrinkles of a grandmother’s hand. But other times, perfection is manufactured and beauty hides a darker truth. In his ColorSafe series, Los Angeles artist James Rieck spins the glossy glamour of 1960s and 70s catalogue models into a look at social contradictions happening then and now still.
Rieck takes the ubiquitous catalogue model poses and reinterprets them– painting them in such a hyperrealistic way that they take on a now too-glossy, unreal quality. In pairs, one light skinned model, one dark, the figures wear the same brightly colored and patterned fashions of the day, similar smiles on their cropped faces. The playing field seems oddly leveled– equality, acceptance and coexistence seemingly achieved. But there’s an underlying tension. The dark skinned figure usually slightly behind the lighter or somehow leaning in to her counterpart. Subtle, but there. Equality in idea, but not in reality.