In The Beginning
Many of us, in all realms, have been influenced by a particular person, by their loyalty and respect for their passion. Usually it seems to be inborn, a genetic love toward an interest or a selective brain, underneath, and connected to the heart.
Even if that connection is sometimes, or superficially, lost, it is still there. You can’t hide it, it pops up in different arenas, in daily life, even when that person is doing an unrelated activity.
Again, it’s passion. It’s often translated by different-minded folk as weird, annoying, dumb, or a joke. Different-minded people have a passion too, whether it’s collecting Christmas angels, working with the Zuni people in New Mexico, or doing taxes for a living (really, you must have a passion for that, right?).
In my case, obviously, it is art and writing.
My father almost attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His art teachers in high school recommended him; but his father passed away suddenly in my dad’s senior year. It was in the 1930s, and the economy was in the Great Depression. My grandmother didn’t have a job, or even speak English; so my father went to work to help support the family. They lived in mid-Michigan, and my father moved to Detroit to take a then well-paid factory job at Chrysler.
So his pastels and drawings ended up in a storage chest forever. But he always noticed everything interesting or different, smiling, with a look of satisfaction, clearly feeding his heart. It could be a piece of furniture, a new shirt, or the selection of flowers around the house.
Dad had a passion, a longing, for the tropical islands, the water, the always warm temperatures, and welcoming sun. He always wanted to visit Tahiti, maybe a fantasy to live there. The movie “South Pacific” nailed it for him, the islands of love and beauty. He never made it there, but his early longings began in high school art class (above).
I have his pastels of his dreams hanging in the gallery; they were hidden away in his home, found after my parents passed four years ago. They keep me company while I work, and encourage me to keep going, even when the going gets tough.
I had my mentors in art school, who I will always remember, and be grateful to. But I share my father’s blood and his passion.