Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century
Dark. Forest green. Mint green. There is a soft LED light glow coming from the right side of the picture. A reflected light from a TV screen would be brighter. Is the person a man or a woman? Is the other person holding up the alien's head in the foreground ? What are they doing ? Where are the two figures ? There's no discernible clothing. The figures are neither smiling nor frowning. Stare at the picture for several minutes. What do you see? Do both figures have open eyes? No ? Yes ? One, but not the other.
On a pleasant, warm day in December, my son drives from the city to Grandpa's Farm as my granddaughter calls it. I excel at being silly. I ask her, Where are the cows? Are there any pigs ? " Nooo," she replies with a silly sarcastic 3 year old voice. Are there any chickens? "Nooo," she says again. "It's a farm Grandpa!" she asserts.
Before the holiday, my son spends several days here at the farm helping me with a load of firewood. I give him a T-shirt with the transfer image of Dawn's painting of The Id and the Ego . He says people were curious about the artwork. "Oh that," says Dawn. "I painted that years ago." I'm guessing it was painted during her tenure as a student of fine arts at the university. It says a lot to me. But that's for me to know and for you to find out. Nyaah. Twhfft.
(That means I'm sticking my tongue out at you.)
One gift to Dawn from my son is an art book of paintings of women reading. The title paraphrased because I'm too lazy to get up and verify my failing memory is, Dangerous Women Who Read. The book and a gift of four coffee blends causes my eyes to well. One of the coffee blends is a Milwaukee Blend. At the bottom of a picture of a classic Milwaukee bungalow is the caption...snowed in, twenty below zero, school's closed, a typical Milwaukee snowstorm. I remember those delicious snow days. It's a day when you got the chance to greet your neighbor outside shoveling snow and find out what's transpired the past two months.
I miss parts of the city. I love living in the jewel of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin but I miss the amenities, the neighborhoods, the people. Dawn tells her boss that she has run into far more weird people in this area than she ever knew in the city. When Dawn elaborates, her boss sighs , "Oh my!" The paintings in the book are from famous artists of the past. Dawn notes that one painting, according to the artist Vincent Van Gogh, took 45 minutes to complete. Forty five minutes ! she exclaims. " I wish we could do a book like that," I tell Dawn. She scoffs. I don't have enough material. Material! I echo. " Look around you." I've never been concerned that anyone reads what I write. It's purely a selfish expression. I've been entertaining myself with these musings for 37 years. Think about that. On my report card at the Pearly Gates St. Peter reads, Keeps himself amused. Yet I'm frustrated by the response or lack thereof, to Dawn's serious artwork. The gnomes are well received. Fame is not the question nor the answer. 37 paintings discovered in storage after the artist passed away is not what I imagine for these works.
I make it an affirmation of fact in 2009 and put it out to those salient beings who have guided us in the past , in the present in the future. Dawn's artistic works will receive the recognition she deserves.
Lessons from Alabama
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