Self portraits

Self portraits

Monday, January 9, 2012


It was the spring of 1972 -- and, I had taken the 17 bus down Lake Street from high school, where I was supposed to be, to sit on the grass at Lake of the Isles, to enjoy the outdoors and read (Henry Miller, as I recall). This was where I met a student from the art school (MCAD), who tried to seduce me. The following year, I was completely seduced -- but, by Picasso, Manet, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Chagall, and Klimt; yet couldn't quite find my own groove with painting. Also, that same year, I was injured in an assault, fell out of art school, and, moved to Wisconsin to try to find myself again. 

Portrait of Joe
Living in the woods and back country of western Wisconsin is better in memory than in actuality. I've forgotten the ticks, the poison ivy, the dead skunks, the loneliness, the flypaper. I might not remember driving into ruts, but do recall neighbors getting their chains and dragging me out. . .forgotten living without running water, but remember some refreshing outdoor showers. I've forgotten waking up to frosty air, but do recall the smell of the wood stoves, amazing meals, and cozy nights. I've forgotten the pain in my hands from milking goats, the bee stings, the goose shit, being lost in the woods, the exhaustion, sore muscles, overall general muck, and wet feet of farm life, not to mention that smell that got on everything.

But, wait a minute.  . remembering those funky smells brings me back to more memories of the grace of country life -- the order of things, skinny dipping, and drinking right from the lake. The wild asparagus coming up, and the watercress in the spring. . the crazy neighbors -- the ones who used to fight, loudly, and, the ancient brothers who lived together in the house down the road by the tamarack trees. (May have been inspiration for Brother's Keeper).

Country life was an inspiration in so many ways, but I don't think I came back to myself until many years and lots of therapy later. Making art has saved my life in a way, but I'll save that for a future rant.
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