Two weeks ago, I sold a painting. This was not any painting...it was my "Buddha" painting: one of my favorites, and one that I put a lot into. Karen, the woman who bought it, is great. She really "gets" my work, and I know "Buddha" will have a good, loving home. The thrill of selling a piece is wonderful and unlike any other feeling I have experienced. I spent that sunny, beautiful afternoon hiking with my friend Heather and that evening I went to the vigorous class at Jai Yoga. The poem Jen read at the end of the class really resonated with me ("everything you need you have, right now, in this moment"). I left in a peaceful, contemplative state and I was ready to toast the sale of my painting over dinner with my husband Terry.
I walked in the door and in an instant the phone was ringing. I ran for it with my coat still on and heard my brother Frank's voice on the other end. The news he gave me made my heart drop. Our cousin Christopher passed away at 4 pm after a 13-year long battle with leukemia. He was 19 years old. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I tried to grasp this concept. "I thought he was getting better," I kept hearing myself say. We spoke for a little while and then I called Betty, Christopher's mom. I was at a complete loss as to what to say. Everything sounded so hollow and meaningless. Before we hung up, she said, "Go give your husband a hug." I took her advice and collapsed. There would be no celebration tonight.
The wake and the funeral were packed to the gills with grief-stricken people trying to wrap their heads around what had happened (a testament to how many lives he touched, how many people he loved and how many people loved him). Photographs around the room showed a curly-headed, smiling child; a happy, athletic young man; a son, a brother, a friend...and, as I now realize, a teacher. I have a lot to learn from him and the way he lived his life. Christopher didn't let his illness stop him from doing the things he loved. He never complained about the hand he was dealt, he just kept on fighting. He was tough, brave, strong, and sweet. He loved life, and he lived it to the fullest: playing baseball, golf, basketball and laser tag, enjoying trips to Cooperstown and Yankee games, spending time with family and friends. Christopher knew about "having everything you need, right now, in this moment" without anyone having to tell him that was the case.
I'm struggling to find the lesson here and to make sense of everything that's happened, but what I keep coming back to is this: the best way to pay tribute to Chris is to keep his memory alive and to adopt his approach to life. Live to the fullest. Be brave, courageous, and strong. Be loving and kind. Discover what you enjoy and grab it with both hands...and don't forget to celebrate.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here are the four new collages I worked on during my time at the Art, Mind and Soul Studio for Arts Downtown and All Around. They all have a similar quality and I think that must have something to do with the fact that they were all at least started (if not completely finished) during the course of my two days there.
Two of these pieces ("Smile My Love" and "You Are A Gift") will be on display at my next show, which is a group show at the Community Wellness Center in Farmingdale. Please check the show listings page on my website for more details (www.brushstrokesbymaria.com). "You Are A Gift" is pictured twice here. The first photo is the original way it is meant to be hung; the second photo reveals a small round mirror inside of the gift box. I like the feeling of intimacy and secrecy this gives the piece and I hope that feeling comes across to the viewer (yes, that means you).
Monday, December 7, 2009
I had a great time at the Arts Downtown and All Around fair this past weekend! I was in the Art, Mind and Soul Studio inside Fort Andross, and I'm really happy to have been there. Thank you, Heather, for your hospitality! I met some great people, I sold a few pieces, and I even got some work done. I will try to post photos of the new pieces (or a link to the photos, more likely) later this week. In the meantime, here are some more new collages: http://picasaweb.google.com/brushstrokesbymaria/BrushstrokesByMaria?authkey=Gv1sRgCPupwMaqi6y-0QE&feat=directlink