Tag Archives: Painting

Courage at Twilight: Quotidian

Quotidian: a word embracing that collection of ordinary and mundane activities and events which one experiences on a routine or daily basis.

“Here you are!” Mom exclaimed as I entered the house after work and sat with her and Dad in the family room.  “Tell me about your day?” I invited.  Mom recounted how, the day being cold but sunny and bright, she and Dad had decided to run some errands.  She drove her Subaru with Dad to pick up her newest needlepoint from the dry cleaner where it had been blocked, then to take it and three other newly-blocked needlepoints to the frame shop and selected frames—they’ll be done in about a month—then to the Burger King drive-through for Impossible burgers and fries and Diet Cokes, and while waiting for their food watching as police officers from three patrol cars placed a man in handcuffs and searched his car in the Burger King parking lot, then came home and fell into their recliners to watch NCIS and eat their Impossible burger meals.  “We’re pooped!” she exclaimed.  Mom then reminisced about Lynn Freeman from her University of Utah days who was a good friend and who had dwarfism and who was on the university swim team and who became a first-rate painter—I have admired his two paintings on their walls for five decades—Lynn gave her one painting as a wedding gift in 1962.  I told them a bit about my work day, and the new book I’m “reading” during my commute: Leadership, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, about the qualities that made Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson such pivotal leaders in American history, being connected in a line of admiration and mentorship back to George Washington.  As stood to go to my rooms, Mom told me they had just ten minutes left of the last episode of the last year of 18 years of NCIS.  She owns all 18 seasons on DVD.

Pictured above: Still Life, by Lynn Freeman.

Pictured below: Scene of Old Park City, by Lynn Freeman.

Courage at Twilight: Wall Hangings

The negotiated terms of my ouster included me rescuing my children’s artwork from the attic storage closet.  I wanted these paintings displayed and my children honored.  They had made oil, acrylic, and collage paintings on old plywood, cardboard, canvas board, and posterboard.  Many pieces were very good.  Determined, I took a framing class at the Tooele Army Depot morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) facility.  I learned to measure and cut the mats and the glass, assemble the frames, and apply the backing.  I felt joyful and proud to hang these excellent art pieces on the walls of my apartment, which my father came to call my “art gallery.”  They included scenes of Lisbon streetcars, Rio de Janeiro’s Cristo Redentor, the romantic streets of Paris, African villages, Korean dancers, and New York City street corners, plus a Panda Bear and a Great Blue Heron.  The most venerable painting hanging on my apartment walls was an oil Dad painted in the 1950s of two children, a boy and a girl, walking hand-in-hand down a forest path.  To move them safely, I wrapped these jewels in plastic and stacked them carefully in the Mom’s and Dad’s basement.  After two weeks, I found myself ready to decorate my two rooms, too small to accommodate all the paintings I had framed.  And I suddenly found that my connection to them was touched with old despair.  For now, I will gently store them to await a time of greater healing and permanence, when I will take them out and again proudly display them.  Now is not the time or the season.  They are like so many priceless museum pieces wrapped in protecting plastic and stowed in crates, awaiting their grand retrospective.  In the meantime, I have hung in my rooms several of Mom’s beautiful needlepoints, prints I bought on various trips, and the old oil of two children walking through the woods, holding hands.

Sphere of Absence

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Sphere of Absence by Erin Frances Baker

I exited a posh downtown law firm revolving door to accompany several high-priced litigators to lunch.  As a municipal attorney, my city was their client, and I its representative.  Hundreds of people walked every which way, moving single-mindedly toward their various destinations.  Car horns honked.  Crosswalk lights chirped.  People talked animatedly.  Buses dieseled by.  Trolley car power cables sizzled.  On the corner, in the middle of the commotion, sat a homeless woman, dirty, dressed in rags, her hair ratty.  She sat and rocked and wailed inconsolably.  No one paid her any mind.  They merely arced around her from their many directions, creating a sphere of absence around her.  I approached her, but not too close, to see her better.  I ached for her, yet feared to enter that intimidating sphere.  I marveled that she remained invisible to the bustling world around her. Still, though I saw her and felt for her, I too arced clear and moved on to my worldly business.  Below is my poem describing the encounter, entitled “Sphere of Absence.”

My daughter, Erin Frances Baker, adapted my poem for her acrylic-on-board masterpiece, changing the character of my homeless woman to the lighter, but still isolated and nearly invisible, figure of a street performer.  I hope you enjoy the poem and the painting.

SPHERE OF ABSENCE

She sat on the corner
of a bustling city street:
a surreal reminder
of an unfriendly reality;
a sad black-and-white cutout,
pasted, out of place,
into the noisy, colorful hustle
of illusory pursuits.
Mute faces ate and laughed
behind thick glass panes;
wingtips and heels stepped past
in all directions,
carving a polygonal sphere,
untouched, unvisited,
seen but ignored, unknown.
Unknowable.
Above the train-wheel grind and clatter,
the honking horns,
the crosswalk chirps,
the biting wind,
and the chatter, rose
a soft, wailing cry,
a muffled desperation,
a distracted pouring-out
of a fractured soul
into the lonely sphere of absence.

 

My book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road, has recently been published in print and for Kindle.  You can read about it here.