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project hot air balloon


By 12:57 PM

Originally uploaded by looseid

Two painters, one church basement, first joint show.
Truth be told, it was one skilled painter and one hobbyist who was working through some issues through straight tube color onto store bought canvases. He recently lost a partner to cardiac arrest and subsequently custody of his hounds, home and all belongings through a family feud. He was living a country western song.

The painters were both friends of mine and they planned this last minute. It was Halloween. The lighting, abysmal. And I was dressed up as a Hair Bear Bunch character with a couple of pint-sized Bela Lugosi's in tow between tricks and treats. Not my proudest social appearance.

To make matters worse, we were the only ones there. Maybe we were late? Maybe we missed the mad rush? Maybe there'd been some wine and good snacks. Maybe not.

When I thought things couldn't get any worse, my friend grabbed me by my wrist and led me across the room. He was so excited. He said he had something for me. We stopped in front of this painting and he said that he painted it for me. He was radiant and proud and waiting for my joyful response. But this painting, out of all of the paintings in that truly dismal space brought me down. In spite of its warm sunshine-y hues, the barren landscape and winding path leading to a sudden end, just made me want to walk out of the church and into oncoming traffic.

He comprehended one point perspective. He transitioned nicely from one color to the next. He was pretty bold judging from the large scale for a hobbyist. But his recent loss betrayed his intent. No wall in my life had space for how he was processing through his recent tragedy.

The other painter, the skilled one, extolled the virtues of this piece and said that she wanted to buy it from him. She was "jealous" that I was going to get it. I exclaimed to her, "Then you should have it, because I couldn't possibly accept this as a gift."

Of course, they both thought I was being gracious by refusing the generosity. After an extended remix of "You take it, no you take it" I drove home that night with the painting my back seat. It's been five, six years since the grand gesture and from one basement to another it had been gathering dust. Every time I saw the painting it made me think of my friend's sadness.

I recently got in touch with the painter who was cheated out of the yellow opus. I asked her if she still wanted the painting, if not, I was going to donate it. She said she did. I said something about sharing the wealth and that she would enjoy the piece more than I. Both true statements. She had forgotten about the painting, but she recently got engaged and moved into a new place with her fiance and had room for it. The truth is I never made any room for it in mine.

She's picking it up this weekend.
I wish you the best happiness together.

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  1. It's a sensitive story. I like it very much.