September 22, 2010

* Caught between the Moon and New York City

Have any of you wondered "Why is she doing this?".  "What's this all about?"  "What kind of subject matter is this for a painting?"  "She's really gone off this time!".  "Sometimes I wonder what goes on in that woman's head."  Oh, come on, I know some of you have.  And that's OK.  We all have our own opinions on subject matter for a piece of art.  

"Caught between the Moon and New York City" is about much more that it would appear.  It's about a young woman, twenty-one to be exact, leaving her home and her community.  It's about getting on a train, crossing Canada to New York and sailing away to Europe.  It's about a dream she had ever since she entered this world.  It's about the rebel in her.  It's about leaving on this journey against her parents wishes.  It's about her parents refusing to be there to see her off.  It's about wanting something so badly, she defied everything and did it anyway. It's about going away for three months and falling so deeply in love with the continent, she stayed for three years.  If it had not been for the 'global fishing rod' her parents possessed, she probably would have stayed there somewhere. It's about me.

It's about New York City in the 60's when the tallest and most spectacular building in existence was the Empire State Building.  Broadway, central park, Harlem and 5th avenue.  It's about rude taxi drivers I had no idea existed.  It's about empty lots and tenement buildings crumbling and decaying.  It's about having my eyes opened wide.  It's about growing up and falling in love with the world.  It's about the beginning of a journey which brought me to where I am today.  Oh, I didn't know it.  It was the beginning of my earthly lessons, the good, the bad, the sublime, the ridiculous.

It's about sailing from New York on my first ocean liner, the Christophoro Columbo, then the Italian Line (in later years bought out by Princess Lines).   The crowd of people on the docks, the crowd of people on the ship all wanting a place at the rails to hold a streamer with their loved ones.  When the ship sailed the streamers slipped away or broke. People clung to each other.  Bands played.  There were tears.  It was emotional.  Some of those people would never see each other again.

It's about a handsome young Italian who wanted to carry my suitcase on to the ship.  It's about me being afraid and embarrassed, putting my nose in the air and with great outward confidence snatching my suitcase back.  It's about the very handsome Italian man still on shore who locked eyes with me and would not remove them until we could no longer see each other.  No matter what I did, or where I looked, because I was very uncomfortable, when I looked back, this handsome Italians' big black eyes burrowed into my soul.  He made love to me from the shore.

It's about sailing past the Statue of Liberty having shivers run up my spine, a lump in my throat, and a tear down my cheek. It was knowing what the plaque of dedication said and believing every word of it.  It was the thought of every person who ever came through Ellis Island carrying with them Hope and Courage.  It is about my own naivety.

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
It is about opening the brown bag, a gift from an old male friend, and finding my first bottle of Dom Perignon.  I had assumed it was wine.  It's the people on the ship, mostly Italians and Greeks.  Some Portugese and Spanish.  AM, the Aussie who is still a huge part of my life.  The Greek and Roman gods, Michaele and Nicos, who cared for me like brothers, and made love to me every day with their eyes.  It was my introduction to Mediterranean gods, who, unlike polite Canadian men, undressed me unabashedly with their eyes, threw me on the ground and made love to me in their minds, while I stood there uncomfortable and shy wanting to run away to the nearest olive grove.  It was the dancing, the singing, the playing of music, the concerts, the art, the architecture, the food, the culture, the languages, the newness beside the ancientness, the tears I shed as I sat in the old marble stadium in Athens feeling the  ethereal energy of two thousand years.It's about the awakening of my senses, the opening up of my spirit, the increase in my tolerance for just about everything. It's about the wonderful women I lived with, and what they taught me with such love and patience.  It was my introduction to the world.  It was my inner debutant's journey, having so many opportunities for growth presented to me. It's about falling in love with things I didn't know existed.  It's about opening up and expanding in ways I never could have had I stayed in Canada. It is about the education of my soul.  It's about learning to make love to a whole new world and being embraced by it.  It's about the beginning of a journey which is still leading me to exciting unexpected places.Now do you understand a little bit more?   I've finished the painting.  It will hang in my home.
"Caught between the Moon and New York City"  acrylic on canvas 2010


"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."  ~ Aristotle

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